Trinity II - St. Luke 14.16-24 - June 14, 2015

Order of Service - Pg. 15
Hymn # 267 Come Unto Me Ye Weary
Hymn #372 Through Jesus' Blood and Merit
Hymn #297 The Gospel Shows the Father's Grace

Readings
Isaiah 25:6-9
1 John 3:13-18
St. Luke 14:16-24

Collect

O Lord, Who never failest to help and govern those whom Thou dost bring up in Thy steadfast fear and love, make us to have a perpetual fear and love of Thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

Sermon on the Holy Gospel

1)         A certain man gave a great supper and invited many. The certain man is God the Father and the supper He prepares is the Holy Gospel. It is a feast of forgiveness for your sins. It is a Supper of salvation. In this feast God the Father places before us His Only-Begotten Son. This Son of God assumes our human flesh in the incarnation so that He may be like us in every way, except without sin. He assumes our human flesh so that He can intimately know our weaknesses. The incarnate Son of God lives perfectly under the Law so that He can earn a perfect righteousness that you and I cannot obtain by doing even our best to live under the Law. Christ dies on a cross with God the Father imputing our sins to Him. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us. (2 Corinthians 5:21) All your sin is put on Jesus on the cross. Every one. Every thought Every Word. Every deed. All your sins are counted on Jesus’ slate. Not only does God impute your sin to Jesus, by faith in Christ’s atonement God the Father now imputes Christ’s righteousness to us. Sin is taken away, righteousness is counted to us so that our hearts are cleansed by faith. (Acts 15:9) Christ rises from the dead, swallowing up death by His resurrection and closing the fierce jaws of the grave for all who believe, promising them resurrection on the Last Day and life everlasting. This is the feast which God prepares for His people, the Jews, and for all nations whom He will call. This feast is Christ Himself with all His blessings. It is a feast to be eaten by faith.

2)         But the Jews will not come. They want nothing to do with this feast of Christ. They don’t want to believe the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins. They’d much rather make their own way and provide their own supper through their own works, some divinely ordained, some man-made. But they cannot simply reject God their Father. They must not appear to be unbelieving so they erect excuses and paint them with piety so as not to be seen for what they truly are. The first said to him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused. In the parable, Land represents the possessions and wealth of this world. Consider Ahab, wicked king of Israel during the time of Elijah. Ahab coveted the property next to his own, a vineyard which belonged to Naboth. Ahab was so consumed with covetousness and self-pity that it led him to plot against Naboth, have him murdered. Once Naboth was dead, Ahab stole his vineyard. Such is the lust of the human heart for the things for mammon, wealth, and worldly possessions. Ahab nurtured this lust in his heart so that the things of this world were of far greater importance to him than the Words of God spoken. Last week we heard of the Rich Man who forsook Lazarus at his gate because He placed His trust in his riches and lost his soul to his false god. Many in our age do the same. They hear the summons to the great feast of Christ yet they would rather add to their ledger and sack away money, thinking only for things temporal while giving no heed to the eternal.

3)         And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused. The oxen in the parable represent the labor of this world. Many choose to labor rather than enter into the feast at the Lord’s summons. Finding fulfillment and joy in the work God had placed into their hands they then neglect the Lord who has given them their work. These are the people who want to always be doing and never receiving, never resting, never hearing. In 1 Kings 18 the prophet Elijah goes to Elijah, son of Shaphat, to call him not only to the feast of the Gospel but also to labor as a servant in that feast as a prophet. Elisha is working, doing the work the Lord had given him to do in his vocation. He was in the field, plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. (1 Kings 19:19) Elijah throws his mantle upon Elisha and Elisha does what many in our age refuse to do. He took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen's equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant. (1 Kings 19:21) Elisha heeds the call to the Supper and to be a servant for the mast of the house. He not only sets aside his work but offers it up as a sacrifice to His gracious Lord. Elisha is a positive example for us because he carried out his vocation faithfully, but when the Lord called Him to the feast, He would not let that vocation come between himself and the great gifts of God in the Gospel. We are not called to forsake our earthly vocations, as Elisha was, nor are we to put our earthly vocations completely aside in order to serve the Lord as was Elijah. But we are to set them aside daily for time to hear God’s Word, to ponder in, to repent of our sins and enjoy the benefits and blessings of the Gospel that our Lord has prepared for us in Christ Jesus.

4)         Still another said, I have married a wife and therefore I cannot come. This represents the lusts of the flesh and desire to please others rather than our Lord God. Marriage is honorable and to be kept in honor by all. In the parable, the Lord would not want this man to forsake his bride since God had joined them together. But this man used his bride as an excuse to forsake the Lord. His desire to be with his Bride was greater than his imagined need for the supper his Lord had prepared for him. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:33 that he who is married cares about the things of the world -- how he may please his wife. So this man in the parable cares more for the things of this world, his desires and the allurement of peace at home more than he cares for the feast prepared by the Lord. We have plenty of examples of this in the Scripture and we see this often in our own lives. Wicked Ahab took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. (1 Kings 16:31) Ahab’s lust for Jezebel and his desire to make her happy drove him to forsake the Lord entirely and worship her false god instead. The allurement of peace with others, the desire to please others, or the carnal lusts keep us from answering the summons of the Gospel which invites us to repent of our sins, believe the Gospel, and forsake those selfish desires in order to mortify our flesh and truly love our neighbor as ourselves. Such were the excuses of the Jews for not answering the invitation to the Lord’s gracious feast prepared for their salvation.

5)         Christ tells us this parable again today so that we take to heart His Father’s invitation to this gracious feast. He gives us this warning lest we, like the Jews, reject the Gospel for the things of this world. St. John writes to us in his first epistle, Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17) The Lord wants us to be vigilant about how we hear the Word of the Lord and how we treat the feast He offers us in the Gospel. The things of this world so easily entangle us and distract us from the blessings Christ offers us. Land, oxen, and wife may seem like foolish reasons to disregard the kingdom of God. After all, who buys land without first inspecting it, or oxen without testing them? But the absurdity of these excuses is meant to show us how absurd and illogical our excuses truly are. The things of this world are transitory. They are passing away. But the blessings the Lord offers us in His feast are eternal blessings. The gifts He gives in His preaching and sacraments are everlasting gifts because they will bring us into everlasting joys of paradise. We must be careful that we do not, like the Jews, take the invitation and feast for granted so that we loosen our grasp of it and lose it entirely.

6)         When you are convicted of your excuses from hearing, reading, and meditating upon God’s Holy Law and His Gospel, repent. Repent of your flimsy excuses, your entrenched sin, and your stubborn refusal whenever the Lord convicts you of them. Repent because He longs to forgive. Turn from your excuses for He desires to absolve you. Repent because He if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) the feast is ready. All has been prepared. The lamb of God has been sacrificed for the sins of the world, for you sins, for ALL your sins. The feast is ready, everything has been prepared for you by God your heavenly Father so that you have nothing to offer, nothing to bring, and nothing to give in exchange for the forgiveness of all your sins. The Supper is ready, the table set with all the precious promises of Christ to you. There at the table are His merits, His righteousness, His passion, death, and resurrection for you. Although we sin and turn away daily He is here again in mercy to beckon us to His feast of forgiveness, to His supper of salvation that we may not die in our sins but live and enjoy all these great benefits by faith in Christ. Amen.
 

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