Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Messiah Lutheran Church
Trinity 2 (June 1, 2008)
For an audio MP3 of this sermon, CLICK HERE
TITLE: “The Great Banquet”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text is the Gospel lesson just read, the story of the Great Banquet from Luke 14.
I don’t think we have much of a sense of the rarity of the banquet today. Maybe if we spent more time fasting, we would understand this parable a little better. A banquet in Jesus’ day was not Saturday night pizza. Most of us are so stuff with the things of this life that we can’t even recognize good food when we taste it. But there it is. God reminds us this morning that the feast of salvation is for all, and yet is rare. God invite everyone, but not all come to His holy invitation. So what does this holy banquet mean for you and I, as we seek to understand life in Him under the cross?
First of all, notice that in this great supper or banquet, the man (the king really) invites many. It was common in Jesus’ day that when a rich man gave a banquet, whether this was a wedding feast or not, that they would invite the poor and the needy to the party. This was a sign of the generosity of the host. He did not want to keep God’s bounty to himself, but rather wanted to give it out to all and sundry. There is no sense of expectation on the part o the invitation. The host wants to bring joy to those in need, and because he has cause for rejoicing, so should his guests.
Now notice second the audacity and sheer rudeness of his guests! He invites them out of the generosity of his heart, but his guest begin to make excuse. Only each excuse is more ridiculous than the last. The servants have gone out at the dinner hour to gather everyone in to the banquet. Presumably they have already been invited. But when the servants come, they get the laundry list of why the guests can’t come. I have to go check out some property. I have to go take my new oxen out for a spin. I’m recently married and so can’t make it. Nobody goes out to start plowing a field at suppertime. You do that early in the morning, not in the heat of the day. The excuses are as lame as they sound.
But, of course, we all know that our excuses for neglecting God’s table are no better. The fish only bite at 9 am on Sundays. The lawn just won’t wait. This is my only time to just relax. I have to work later today. I’m tired. My kids are making me crazy. My parents are making me crazy! You can fill in your own excuses.
Sometimes even when we come to God’s holy banquet, we don’t come to recline at His table and receive His Gifts. We come rather to parade our holiness before the world, to complain about our own troubles in getting here, or to make someone happy. We may be here, but we are only in body, not in soul.
Contrast this with what St. John writes in his vision in Revelation Nineteen:
“And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”” (Revelation 19:9 ESV)
The banquet feast of the Lamb is no typical banquet. The ones who attend this feast are truly blessed. There is no chicken, potatoes and some kind of overcooked vegetable. There is no cheap wine or bad coffee, with a boring speaker and an expensive price tag. This banquet, this marriage supper, is like no other. Isaiah tells us about this great banquet:
“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.” (Isaiah 25:6 ESV)
This is the banquet of heaven. This is the banquet where everyone is invited, where the food is the best there ever was and the wine is of the finest vintage. Here our Lord is both host and meal. He is lifted up on the spit of the cross, and is then fed to you at the holy meal. This is the feast of victory, where God delivers once and for all His gifts of the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. It is a great party, with reunions of old friends and relatives, and where everyone is rejoicing and glad at heart.
It is at this table that all hatred and bitterness, all sorrow and pain, all of the troubles and trials of this life melt away. This is a banquet that is now, but not yet. It is here, but it is still coming. We rejoice as the people of Isaiah’s day once said:
“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.”” (Isaiah 25:9 ESV)
There are always excuses, there are always reasons to avoid the table. But our Lord, who is rich in mercy, is long-suffering with us, His wayward sons and daughters. He is patient and kind, and in the love of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He rejoices to give Himself to you, at this, His eternal victory meal.
So come and feast at His table. Rejoice that you have been brought into His holy kingdom, and that you are here, forgiven, healed, and restored. And one day, dearly beloved, you will feast with our Lord face to face in heaven. Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.