In Memoriam + Fredrick (Fred) Bitter
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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
July 3, 2014
Central Passage
Luke 14:15-24
Description

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

“Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God.” Fred is blessed. He will eat bread in the kingdom of God. He fell asleep in Christ and now he rests in Christ waiting for the son of God who is raised from the dead (1 Thessalonians 1:10) to come and give eternal life to Him and all who believe on Jesus.

That’s the promise Fred received when he was washed with the waters of Holy Baptism. That’s the faith Fred confessed when He ate the most holy body and blood of Jesus. For as often as you eat that bread and drink of that cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes in the future. In other words, as often as you share the Supper of Christ you confess to the world your faith in the resurrection and are comforted by the promise of Jesus that His resurrection is also your resurrection.

That man who cried out, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God” is right. They are blessed indeed. But consider our Lord’s parable. Who was it that filled the Master’s house and enjoyed His banquet? Was it not the poor and crippled and blind and lame? Was it not the homeless and destitute? Was it not those who were compelled to come in?

Unless you are compelled, you will never eat bread in the kingdom of God. And so the Lord compels you. It might seem merciless to us. It might seem counterintuitive and just down right mean. But the Lord compels you not by what we would call good but by what we would call evil. For the Lord’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Except that they were poor and blind and lame and crippled, except that they were homeless and destitute, those who fill the Master’s house would not have been compelled to come to the banquet.

So poverty, destitution, sickness, and other such things we call evils are truly the voice of wisdom calling out to the highways and hedges, compelling us to come to the Master’s banquet. So it is with cancer. So it is with death. They are messengers of the Master sent to compel us to come to His banquet. What the devil means for evil, God means for good. But as long as we think we can avoid these things, as long as we believe they are for other people and not for us, that we can ward them off, as long as we don’t think of ourselves as those who are poor and blind and crippled and lame, we will be like those who made excuses who will never eat bread in the kingdom of God.

Heed the call of wisdom. She calls to you now through your sickness, your poverty, your destitution, your loneliness, your sin and shame. She calls to you through the death of one of the saints of God. Wisdom not telling you how to avoid these things, for they cannot be avoided any more than blindness can be avoided by the blind. Wisdom is not giving you advice on how to live your life with no regrets or how to be healthy or wealthy. She is only telling you how to be wise. To seek the Lord now while He may be found and to cry out as Fred cried out, as all the saints of God cry out, “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.”

And so He does, for the Lord is merciful and good, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He is good to all who call upon Him and in Him are pleasures forevermore.

Fred was a good caretaker. He took care of his son. He took dear care of his mother and father. But what is more significant than that is how he was taken care of by His Lord. He was given the word of the Lord, the promise of Christ that He came not to condemn the world but to save the world. He was cared for by the Lord who gave Fred the most holy body and blood of Jesus that Fred participated in Christ and rejoices even now in the inheritance promised; the inheritance of eternal life in the kingdom of God. For Fred, like all the saints of God, living or dead, is looking forward to the resurrection when the dead in Christ shall rise and will be given the inheritance as sons, for so we are.

And so the Lord cares for you. Not by taking away your sickness or your poverty or your broken relationships and lives, but by taking away your sin and by giving you the righteousness of Christ; by covering your shame with the obedience of Jesus. He cares for you by promising you a share in the eternal inheritance of the Son of God whom He bodily raised from the dead.

Fred, too, shall be bodily raised from the dead, as will we all be, as the Scriptures teach. And then will come the banquet of the Master, the Supper of the Lamb. And those who believe and are baptized shall be saved and will be called blessed, for they shall eat bread in the kingdom of God; sitting with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob … and with Fred, our dear brother in Christ.

+ In Nomine Iesu +