Home > Trinity 1-5 > Excused From the Kingdom Of God. Trinity 2, 2014.

Excused From the Kingdom Of God. Trinity 2, 2014.


agape feast marcellinus catacombThe Second Sunday after Trinity (Commemoration of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession)

St. Peter Lutheran Church, Joliet, Illinois

St. Luke 14: 15-24

June 29, 2014

“Excused from the Kingdom of God”

 

Iesu Iuva!

 

Jesus is at a Sabbath dinner hosted by Pharisees.  For our Lord this isn’t just an opportunity to eat bread but to break and distribute the bread of life, God’s Word.  It’s natural for Him to talk about the Kingdom of God at a dinner, because the Kingdom of God is a great banquet, according to Isaiah 25:

 

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.  And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.  He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.  Is. 25: 6-8

 

But they don’t understand what Jesus is teaching.  They don’t understand the feast of God’s kingdom is in their presence right at that very moment.  So one of the people at the table starts talking about how great it will be for everyone who gets to eat at the dinner of the Kingdom of God.

 

And Jesus says, “Let me tell you a story.  There once was a man who made a big dinner, and he sent his servants out to say to the people who were invited, ‘Come, because everything is already prepared.’ But everyone who was invited started to make excuses about why they couldn’t come.”

 

Jesus is saying, “You have asked to be excused from God’s kingdom for the sake of earthly possessions, but God is gathering the poor, crippled, broken, and sinful to eat at His spiritual banquet.”

 

Jesus knows that the Pharisees would agree with the idea that you should give some of your wealth to God and to help the poor.  They’re big on sacrifices and tithing and keeping the letter of the law about providing for the poor.  But it’s possible to do those things and still have an unchanged heart that loves earthly goods more than God and one’s neighbor.

 

That’s just the problem for the Pharisees.

They’re willing to give God a tenth of everything and leave the corners of their fields for the poor, as the Old Testament law required.  But they’re not willing or able to keep the spirit of the law.  Because the law requires more than ten percent and corners of fields.  The law requires that you love God with all your heart.  It demands not just ten percent but everything.

 

By human standards the Pharisees are ready to give a lot.  But they aren’t ready to give God everything—all of their possessions and all of their hearts.

 

So they pass on the kingdom of God; they ask to be excused.

 

It’s not that we have to abandon our property or business or family to be in God’s kingdom.  God does command us to manage our earthly affairs.  But we are supposed to do it in such a way that nothing comes before God’s kingdom and righteousness.

 

Imagine if when Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee and called Peter, Peter said, “I will follow you in my heart Lord, but I can’t leave my nets and my father right now.  Maybe when I get the boat paid off I can follow you.”  What kind of faith would that be?

 

The invitation to come to Christ is free, with no strings: “Come, for everything is already prepared!”  But no one can come to the feast of the kingdom of God without leaving behind his oxen, his field, his wife, his father and mother, even his own life.  Sometimes that means physically leaving them.  But always it means at least leaving it internally, so that while we have earthly things, it is as if we did not have them, as if we were managing them for someone else for a short time.

 

Jesus makes this explicit in the passage that follows.  When great crowds were following Him, Jesus turned to the and said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife, and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple…So therefore, anyone of you who does not renounce everything he has cannot be my disciple.”

 

This is why in another place Jesus says, “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  It’s why His disciples responded, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus answered, “With man this is impossible.  But not with God, for all things are possible with God.”

 

This impossible thing of a person leaving everything and coming to God’s feast was happening in front of the very eyes of the Pharisees, even though they couldn’t see it.  Jesus was gathering to His feast people from among the poor and sinful in Israel.  From the tax collectors and prostitutes, from unlearned Galilean fishermen, even here and there from the Pharisees.  But it was not many wise, not many learned, not many noble.

 

It was from among those who were constrained to come because they were in need and had no other business more pressing than to receive the forgiveness of their sins.

 

They saw what the Pharisees refused to see: that the kingdom of God was in the midst of them in the person of Jesus.  In Him God was freely receiving all sinners who wanted to come and be forgiven.

 

The feast was all ready, they saw.  They only had to come and eat.

 

In the same way the invitation to the feast of God goes out in our presence.  And God constrains us to come in. He shows us that with all our earthly possessions, accomplishments, relationships,w e remain under judgment and death, with no way out.

 

And then He puts before our hungry souls the feast of everlasting life: Jesus.

 

To destitute, broken, crippled, blind sinners He says, “Come, everything is ready.”  The feast is prepared.  The finest wine is mixed and poured out for you.  The lamb for the feast has been slain and prepared.  The shroud covering all nations, death, has been swallowed up forever, and soon every tear will be wiped from the eyes of all who come to be fed.

 

Come and believe in Jesus Christ.  Feast on Him and delight yourself in the richest of food.  Delight yourself in the cleansing of all your sins.  Feast on God’s pleasure and favor.  Eat and drink and rejoice with a joyful and clean conscience, for in Him all your guilt is removed, and nothing remains that could stain you before the holy eyes of God.

 

It is yours, famished and miserable sinners.  Nothing your soul needs will God refuse you for the sake of His Son, at whose cost this feast is prepared.

 

He has prepared everything your soul needs in the death of His Son.  There is cleansing from every sin.  There is the Holy Spirit’s power to create in you a new heart that fears and loves God, a heart that is joyful and patient in suffering and temptation, a heart that forsakes earthly things for the sake of the heavenly joys of God’s banquet.

 

Come to His table and eat.  Eat the body of God’s Son, which was slain for You, O helpless sinner, and which was shed to cleanse You.  Come and eat and be forgiven; you who constantly stumble and fall into the love of earthly things more than God, come here and be helped.  This holy Sacrament was instituted to help and strengthen poor sinners.  It is here so that our consciences can become strong and brave and so that our souls may develop a taste for heavenly things instead of the idolatrous craving for earthly things.

 

See, Jesus is at the table with you just as he was at table with the Pharisees.  But they would not see that the kingdom of God and His banquet was open before them.  It is open before you, and He gives you a free invitation to come and dine with Him and He with you.  No matter what the sins of your past or your present, come.  Christ invites you.  He is your all in all—your righteousness, your justification, your cleansing now, your sanctification now, the assurance of the renewal of your life in the future, the assurance that you will persevere to the end and taste His banquet in eternity.

 

Your dear Son Himself has given

And extends his gracious call,

To his supper leads us all.

 

And to this our soul’s salvation

Witnesses your Spirit, Lord

In Your sacraments and Word.

There He sends true consolation,

Giving us the gift of faith

That we fear not hell nor death.  (LSB 559)

 

 

Soli Deo Gloria

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