Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Sermon for 7/3/11--Second Sunday After Trinity (LSB 1-year)

Still having trouble with the podcast. Looking for a new host.

The Feast of Love

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

There are few words found more frequently in the Scriptures than the word “love.” Just about everyone, even those who don’t really believe it, know the Biblical phrase, “God is love.” And it is true that love is the very essence of God. The problem, however, with the word “love” is that it is easily and often misunderstood and misused. For example, it is often assumed that “love” is always a “Gospel” word, a word that speaks of promises and gifts from God. It is, indeed, often used in this way: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.” But if you would check out “love” in all of its various Biblical contexts you will find that in most cases it is actually a “Law” word, a word of command or admonition to love God or to love our neighbor. And so we must bear in mind always that the word “love” is a two-edged sword: it can bear both a Gospel meaning and a Law meaning; and at times, both may be found together. This text is just such an example.

Now, you may be thinking, “What does any of this have to do with this text? After all, the word ‘love’ is not even found in the text.” That’s true. But still, the love of God for us and the love we are to return to Him is all over this text, whether or not the word itself is there. It is found in the context of a great heavenly banquet, which always speaks to us of the Lord’s Supper; and it also speaks to us of the great feast of everlasting life around the throne of heaven.

The great supper described in this text is a wonderful picture of the love of God. The love of God is a love that is wide, for the invitation to the supper is one that goes out to many. It is a banquet that is full and rich, for it meets all the needs of men. It is a great feast that has been prepared and is ready to be enjoyed. What’s more, this is an unending feast. It is a feast of joy for the present, even as it is one of hope for the future.

There is no worldly feast offered this side of heaven that can give any more than present satisfaction. And even in the best of them there are things that we find less than pleasing, or which do not especially appeal to our taste. But this great supper offers present happiness and future glory. As we gather at His invitation at the table of the Lord, we are given His very body and blood, given and shed for the remission of our sins. This is a “foretaste of the feast to come”, a sign of all the wonders that the Lord of the Church has prepared for those who love Him and who long for His return.

This feast of love is so rich, and the entrance to it so easy, that we cannot help but be amazed at how many refuse the invitation to come. It is like faith itself. Saving faith is a great mystery. But perhaps an even greater mystery is that, when offered the boundless blessings of the Gospel, the fullness of the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life, so many will quickly refuse it!

There are many excuses by which the invitation is refused. Some excuse themselves because they have earthly wealth; they simply think they do not need this great feast of love. Others refuse the invitation because they’ve got what they think of as better things to do. Still others refuse because of their families. Can you relate to any of these? You may not be wealthy, but surely there have been times when you have been well satisfied with yourself, and the need for God was far from your mind. And surely the rigors of daily life have kept you busy. At times you have permitted such things to turn you away from the gifts of this great feast of love.

But these excuses are only symptoms. The real reason for refusing the feast of love is because unbelief always yearns for a different feast. Unbelief is too satisfied with earthly riches. It is too busy with daily living. It is too pleased with the delights of family. There is room at the heavenly banquet, but there is no room for the banquet in the hearts of sinners. All excuses are needless. Enjoying God’s great feast will not take away from all these others things; it will enhance them and make them even greater. The enjoyment of God’s great feast will add even more pleasure to those with wealth; it will help those who bear many daily burdens to bear them with joy and without anxiety; it will make even the happiest home happier still.

This parable of Jesus is one that cuts across all the ages of time. The temptation comes to all, including the faithful of the Lord, to think themselves too satisfied, too busy, or too tied down to need the feast of love. And here is the truth that lies at the root of it all, the one thing we need always to remember: we will not taste the feast unless we have the taste for it. That means repentance and faith. The love of God is something that must not be refused by us. His love for us cost Him the life of His Son on the cross, and He will not leave unanswered the rejection of His Son. It is for us to repent for those times when we have thought ourselves beyond the need of the love of God given to us through the saving life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. But even when God’s anger is roused by our sin of refusal, still His love persists. He doesn’t stop sending the invitation; He repeats it again and again, each time full of His desire that we would accept His invitation.

This is an open invitation to the Savior’s body and blood in His Holy Supper, which is a foretaste of the feast to come. The feast is great, its blessings boundless even now; but, as yet, we have tasted only the crumbs, the appetizer. Here the words of the Psalmist come to mind: “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in You.” Hear His invitation, and answer to your everlasting joy and blessing! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

No comments: