Trinity XX - St. Matthew 22:1-14 - October 4, 2015

Order of Service - Pg. 15
Hymn #375 If Thy Beloved Son, O God
Hymn #425 All Depends on Our Possessing
Hymn #402 O God, Forsake Me Not

Isaiah 65:1-2
Ephesians 5:15-21
Matthew 22:1-14

Collect for the 20th Sunday after Trinity
Grant, we beseech Thee, merciful Lord, to Thy faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins and serve Thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, now and forever. Amen.

Sermon on the Holy Gospel

1)         Christ tells us today’s parable so that we might begin to understand and have a greater appreciation for the depth of God the Father’s graciousness toward us. The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son. This is obviously not an earthly lord who procures a bride for his heir. It is about the kingdom of heaven. God the Father is the certain king. The son whom he prepares a marriage is His Only-Begotten Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. And what is the marriage? It is the incarnation of the Son of the God, the personal union of God and Man in the incarnation. God the Father prepares this marriage of God and Man so that in Christ, who is true God and true Man, Christ might win blessings for mankind. Christ assumes our human flesh to live under the law in our place. Where mankind has fallen in Adam’s sin and continues to fall deeper into sin each day, forsaking the commands of the Lord and love for neighbor, Christ comes as a true man, living under the Law perfectly. He lives righteously where we cannot. Since He is true God, that righteousness far exceeds anything any of us could ever hope to earn even if we were sinless. The Son of God in human flesh suffers for our sins. He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him. (Isaiah 53:4-5) He atones for our sin, and more than ours, the sins of the whole world. Christ offers Himself up on the altar of the cross as a propitiation, the thing that turns away God’s wrath and reconciles God to man. Such is God’s grace toward us, that He would send His Only-Begotten Son into the world to atone for our sins, we who deserve nothing but punishment here and in eternity for our sins. Our of sheer grace and mercy the Father provides the merits of Christ to turn away His punishment.

2)         His grace and mercy continue though. They run so much deeper. Not only has the Father sent the Son to acquire such wonderful gifts, blessings and merits. The Father invites everyone to come to this marriage of God and Man in Christ Jesus so that they might enjoy the blessings of Christ and have His merits applied to specifically to them in their sinfulness. See what this certain king does after he arranged a marriage for his son. He sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding. The marriage is wonderful, but if you’re not invited to it you can’t enjoy it. The marriage is splendid, God becoming man and earning the forgiveness of sins, but it you aren’t invited you can’t get the gifts that Christ earns. So the Father calls and ordains His servants, the prophets and apostles, bishops and pastors. He calls them to preach the Gospel, to herald the good news of the wedding, to proclaim the blessings won by Christ, His perfect righteousness and the remission of sins. As St. Paul writes in Romans 10[13-15], For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? The Gospel must be proclaimed if sinners are to believe and by that faith, live.

3)         This is what so many in Lutheranism today fail to understand, those who teach an Objective Justification, that Christ won forgiveness at the cross and simultaneously bestowed that forgive to everyone in the world from the cross. So many in our day believe that Christ forgave the world from the cross, or from the empty tomb, and make the Gospel message into, “Take heart, my son, your sins were declared forgiven 2000 years ago already!” But this is not what the Scriptures teach. God the Father sends His servants to invite people to this wedding. This is the promise of the Gospel. The Father established the ministry of reconciliation because sinners are only reconciled to God when they believe that Christ’s death was for them, that Christ’s merits are theirs and so they are perfectly righteous in the sight of God on account of Christ. This is what St. Paul means in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Paul’s gospel is not, “you have already been reconciled to God, believe in that past tense reconciliation. Paul’s gospel is BE reconciled to God. This is how the Father saves sinners, by inviting them to the marriage to receive its benefits, and the invitation is the promise of the Gospel.

4)         The final thing that God the Father provides for us out of sheer grace and mercy is faith to believe and accept the promise of the Gospel. As sinful men and women, we cannot by our reason of mind or strength of will believe in Jesus Christ as Lord or come to Him. But the Holy Ghost calls us through the Gospel and in that Gospel works faith in our hearts. It is mysterious to us, unfathomable, that the Spirit creates faith in Gospel through the preaching of the Gospel. This is why St. Paul calls the Gospel the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16) The Gospel creates what it needs in the hearts of men. It doesn’t find faith in our hearts before it comes. All that is there is unbelief, ignorance, and misunderstanding of heavenly things. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Today so many believe that faith is a work of man, a feeling of trust and surrender that one can conjure up in oneself if you just try hard enough and try to live piously enough. Many think of faith as a decision of the will, an acceptance of the Gospel as true for them only having intellectually mastered the facts. But we cannot get there from here. Faith is a free gift, lest anyone should boast.

5)         We see a beautiful picture of this faith that is freely given by God at the end of the Gospel lesson. When the promise of the Gospel, the invitation to the wedding is published in the streets and proclaimed on the highways, a man arrives who is not wearing a wedding garment. The king asks him, Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment? In our day you must provide your tuxedo if you are to attend a wedding. Not so in the ancient world. The one who arranged the wedding provided wedding garments for all those invited. This man has no excuse for not wearing the wedding garment since he would have receive it freely at no cost to him. Thus he was speechless. This wedding garment is faith in the promise of the Gospel, that which receives the merits of Christ that God the Father provides out of sheer grace and mercy in Christ’s life, suffering and death. The wedding garment is faith because faith is accounted to us for righteousness, just as Abraham believe the Lord and He accounted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:6) Faith believes the Gospel and so receives the garment of Christ and His righteousness, so that Christ’s merits and perfect righteousness become ours. Still yet once again, the garment is offered freely, out of sheer grace and mercy by the Father who prepared all of this.

6)         But this man is speechless because he knows better. He wants to enjoy the blessings of Christ without faith. He is no better than the ones to whom the invitation is first published. They were not willing to come, Jesus says. The rejected the promise of the Gospel, the invitation to the marriage of God and man. The Lord persisted through His servants, saying, See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle are killed, all things are ready. Come to the wedding. So persistent is the Lord of heaven and earth. This marriage cost Him dearly, it cost Him the life of His Only-Begotten Son. He will not let these men reject is at only one hearing. But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. Here we see the reaction of so many who hear the promise of the promise of the Gospel. They despise it. They think little of it. The cares of this world, farm and business, labor and money, are too strong in their hearts so they walk away from heavenly wealth and treasures. They are just too busy for something that cannot get them richer or bring them external comfort in this life. Other hear the promise of the Gospel and react in similar, yet more vulgar way. The rest seized his servatns, treated them spitefully, and killed them.  This is the response of the Jewish leaders to Jesus Himself and the world to Christ’s apostles. Throughout the ages, down through the years to even our own day, ministers of the word who seek to be nothing but faithful to Christ the promise of the Gospel are treated spitefully, ignored at best, run out from congregations and deprived of livelihood at worst, while in some parts of the world they are still murdered for Christ’s sake. This is how is must be until the return of Christ. For more examples of this make sure and read this month’s Ad Finem Illum that you received with today’s bulletin.

7)         The fate of those who do not believe is condemnation, or rather, they are already comdemned as Jesus says in John 3:18, they are still under God’s wrath because they refuse to believe the promise of the Gospel and by faith flee to the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, as Christ tells us metaphorically in the parable. But to those who believe, by the grace of God, and do not harden their hearts toward this invitation, God the Father richly bestows on them everything that He promises them in the Gospel. Today’s parable is a dire and clear warning against rejecting the Gospel and despising God’s Word, indeed it is the stench of death to those who are perishing. But to those who believe it is most comforting because it is a clear picture of what the Triune God does for us. We see God’s grace in the marriage of God and Man in the incarnation. We see the merits of Christ won for us at the cross. We hear those merits promised to us in the gospel. We see that our wedding garment, faith, is not our work which perishes but God’s Word which He bestows upon us freely through the preaching of the gospel. Thus we have the most gracious God, for in love and mercy He has prepared a marriage for His son. All things are read. Come to the Wedding. Amen.

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