THE 19TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST AD 2017
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
Isaiah 25:6-9 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.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Philippians 4:4-13 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know h.ow to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Matthew 22:1-14 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
A shopkeeper likes to see his shop filled especially as the days grow colder and people start looking for something for everyone on their list. A shopkeeper whose store is empty in November or horror of horrors in December would be desperate for customers. This does not mean though, that he’d be happy to have his store filled with people who would fill their pockets with whatever they wanted and simply walk out the door. He’d be desperate for customers but he’d want customers not shoplifters.
The king in Jesus parable wanted guests for his son’s wedding feast. He wanted the wedding hall filled with people. He made sure he invited lots of them. He let them know well ahead of time. He even sent out servants not once but twice to make sure that they knew to come. The servants told them all about the wonderful feast that was ready and waiting for them. But those who were invited thought they had better things to do. Many just ignored the servants, while others treated them shamefully and killed them. Well, it didn’t turn out so well for them in the end. It’s not a good idea to refuse your King’s invitation.
Now the King is desperate to fill up the wedding hall so he sends his servants out to the main roads to invite anyone that they could find. The feast is ready and waiting all that he needs is wedding guests. And it works. After the servants are done the hall is filled up. There are plenty of guests. But as the King looks out he sees one man who hasn’t bothered to get dressed up for the occasion. He didn’t bother to put on his wedding garment. Although the King was desperate for guests, this man made the mistake of treating the king like he was “desperate”; thinking that if he’s so desperate for guests then it doesn’t matter how I show up. The king was desperate - desperate for wedding guests ready to celebrate with joy the wedding feast of his son - but he wanted guests not ignorant wedding crashers.
A shopkeeper can be desperate for customers but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care if the person who comes in the door is just filling his pockets without paying. A girl can be desperate for a date but heaven help the guy who treats her like she’s “desperate”- showing up late looking like a slob. So too with the Lord, beloved, we must remember that He is looking for children for His table, sheep for His fold and saints for His courts. He hasn’t set a spot for the dogs. He’s not leading swine out to His green pastures and still waters. He’s not filling His courts with demons. The Lord is looking for wedding guests - wedding guests wearing their wedding garments.
The Lord is desperate to fill up His feast. He wants every spot to be taken. He doesn’t want an empty seat in the place. He wants heaven to be full. He was desperate enough to send His only begotten Son to suffer and die on the cross so that the doors could be flung open wide to allow as many as possible to get in. He sent His Son to pay for the sins of the whole world so that there could be a place for everyone at His wedding feast. Yes, God is desperate in the Gospel. He is desperate for every place to be taken which is why when the Jews refused His invitation … when they beat up and killed His prophets … when they crucified His only begotten Son … He sent His servants to the main roads. He sent them to the gentiles … to us … to invite … to bring us to His feast.
Yes, God is desperate for guests at His banquet. He is desperate with longing to save us all but we must not, beloved, no, we must not make the mistake of treating Him like He’s “desperate". The Lord is looking for wedding guests who will come to His feast in their wedding garment. Now what garment is that? Can it be anything other than the robe of Christ’s righteousness that He clothed you with in the waters of Holy Baptism? No, it’s not, beloved. It is nothing but that. It is the life of Christ that He has placed on you when the water poured over you and you were reborn into Jesus as a child of God. The wedding garment is life of Jesus that He has placed on you and made your own.
God is desperate in the Gospel … desperate to save you … desperate to see you at His table. His whole being longs for it. The cross of Jesus can leave you in no doubt about that, but the Lord warns you today, not to make the mistake of treating Him like He is “desperate”. Do not live as though it doesn’t matter what you say or do; thinking that He’s so desperate He’ll just let you into His feast anyway no matter what you are wearing … no matter what your lives look like. The Lord in His mercy has not only given you a place at His feast, He’s also given you a wedding garment to wear - the life of Jesus … your baptismal robes.
What we need to understand, beloved, is that, that life, those robes look like something. The life we were clothed with in Baptism is a life of love. You can’t wear that life and hate your brother at the same time. Those robes are the robes of Christ’s righteousness you can’t wear them and wallow in sin at the same time. No, beloved, we are called to repent of such things. We are called to grieve over them when we see them in our lives, receive God’s forgiveness, while praying that He would pour out His Spirit on us so that we might live our baptismal life … so that Christ would display His love in us and reveal His righteousness in us.
This is the life that God has chosen us for in Christ Jesus … a life of love … a life of righteousness … a life set free from slavery to hate and sin. Many are called but few are chosen. Are you chosen? Well, are you baptized? Then you are chosen. God chose you in Christ when He made you His child. Now as His child He is speaking to you through His Word calling you to look to Him for all that you need to live as His child … calling you to trust in Him to give you all that you need to live the life He has given you … calling you to rely on Him to work in you and through you the good works that He created you for in Christ - the good works that He prepared beforehand that you might walk in them.
No question about it we are God’s workmanship, beloved, and this day we ask Him not to forsake the work of His hands. And here is His answer: the Lord Jesus Christ present in His body and blood. Here to forgive all our sins and share His life with us. Here to build us up in our baptismal life in Him. Here that He might display His love ... His righteousness in us. The Lord Jesus is present here for you - that you might live as a child of God, a sheep of His fold, a guest headed to His wedding feast - that you might one day sit at His table, be lead to His green pastures and still waters and enter into His eternal feast … forever. Amen.