Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Proper 23a (October 12, 2014)
TITLE: “Come to the Feast”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for this morning is the Gospel lesson just read, with focus on Jesus’ words from the parable: For many are called, but few are chosen.
God loves weddings. He loves weddings so much that he created a special Garden for the very first wedding in Eden. Adam and Eve. Truly the perfect couple. God loves weddings, families and children so much that He even uses this image as a picture of Christ and His love for His Holy Bride, the Christian Church. A wedding is the union of a man and a woman in love and faithfulness for life. It is a mark and sign of hope in the world. It is a sign that there is life and a future, no matter what may come. Marriage involves children, and children are the work of God in our midst.
So because God loves weddings, it shouldn’t surprise us that they appear so often in the Scriptures. It seems like marriage and weddings are all over the place in the Bible. The Garden of Eden. Ruth and Boaz. The wedding at Cana. All of these parables about banquets and feasts. Most all of them are not just about a group of people getting together to eat. No, they are almost without exception wedding banquets. And these banquet parables usually begin with something like “the kingdom of heaven is like a marriage feast that the king had for his son….” The feast is for the marriage of the Son, and we are guests of honor.
The marriage feasts happens on top of a mountain, of all places. This great feast that God throws for His bride. It happens on a mountain, not in a Garden like the first marriage. Isaiah talks about it in chapter twenty-five of his prophecy:
And in this mountain
The LORD of hosts will make for all people
A feast of choice pieces,
A feast of wines on the lees,
Of fat things full of marrow,
Of well-refined wines on the lees.
7 And He will destroy on this mountain
The surface of the covering cast over all people,
And the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the LORD has spoken.
9 And it will be said in that day:
“ Behold, this is our God;
We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
This is the LORD;
We have waited for Him;
We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:6-9)
On this mountain of the Lord, this marriage feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom which has no end, the Son destroyed death forever. That was the wedding present. It was the gift He gave to His Holy Bride, the Church. Death is swallowed up in victory. Life reigned where death once ruled.
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that a three-fold strand is not easily broken. The earthly marriages that we see all around us, or that we may even be blessed to receive ourselves, they are held together by the cord of the Word of God. They point us to this great Marriage of the Lamb and His Bride.
Like most marriages, this great wedding produces children. Only the marriage of the Lamb and His Bride, the Church, produces children not by the will of the flesh, but by the will of God, borne out in Holy Baptism. In a sense, you could even say that Baptism is the garment that we now wear. In ancient times a child was baptized naked and then received a white garment, to show the white robe of righteousness given in Baptism. We don’t do that anymore, but it is a good picture.
So who comes to the wedding? Who is invited? Who receives this gift of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation given by these holy waters and won by blood on the mountain? Everyone is invited. As our hymn put so eloquently:
A multitude comes from the east and
To sit at the feast of salvation
With Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
Obeying the Lord’s invitation.
Have mercy upon us, O Jesus! (LSB 514:1)
Everyone is invited. But even more, everyone is offered the garment of salvation in Holy Baptism. God plays no favorites. He is not unfair or mean. He invites one and all, and He gives what is required. God’s Son, Jesus, paid the price on the mountain so that you could sit at this feast of salvation. If some refuse God’s gracious invitation, then that is their own doing, not His.
But this day the feast is before us! God has come into our midst. He loves a wedding, and He wants you as the honored guest at the feast. Come to the waters, you who are weary. Come to the Table, you who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Come to the mountain, you who long for what only God can give. Come to the wedding. Everything is prepared. Come to the Feast!
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen