Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
June 29, 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 he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” One is tempted to understand the bread mentioned here as referring to the Most Holy Body of Jesus, the bread that we break. Since it is true that blessed is he who eats the body of Christ. But the word here is really meant more like supper. Blessed is he who eats supper in the kingdom of God.

Supper comes at the end of the day, when all the work is done. It comes when all the troubles of the day are past and now there is rest from the work. Blessed is the one who makes it to supper, you might say. They’ve worked in the fields or out in the world and now they have come home, they’ve finished their toil and now they may find rest. They are blessed who make it to supper. Blessed are those who eat supper in the kingdom of God.

It is fitting then that we call the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord’s Supper. Blessed is the one who makes it to the Lord’s Supper. Their toil for righteousness is ended. Here they find rest for their bodies and souls as our Lord promises, “Come unto me all you are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Here we rest with and in Christ Jesus, our Lord and our God.

But the parable isn’t only about the Lord’s Supper, the Sacrament of the Altar. It’s about the end of days. The unnamed man who cried out, “Blessed is he who eats supper in the kingdom of God,” was talking about those who find themselves in communion with God at the close of the age when the righteous shall go into eternal life and the wicked into eternal fire. Blessed are those who eat supper, who find rest and refreshment in the kingdom of God.

So our Lord tells a parable about that supper in the kingdom of God, about finding oneself in communion with God at the end of days, whether it is the close of the ages or simply the closing of the eyes.

Many are invited. But many make excuses.

The excuses are three-fold. The first makes his excuse because they don’t think they need the Master’s supper, His banquet. They are landowners, rich in themselves. They could invite the Master to their banquet. They don’t need to be guests but would themselves be hosts. These are those who think they don’t need God’s blessings, that they are good without Him. They rely on their own sense of right and wrong, what is just or unjust. They would judge God. Like when people think God unjust when a person dies or when we are struck by famine or drought – which, thanks be to God, seems to be ending. And when blessings come their way, they imagine that it is because of themselves.

The first excuse makers would make themselves judges of God.

The second group of excuse makers is like the first, but they are more religious. They know of God, the Master. They may even like Him. But they have work to do. The five yoke of oxen – signifying the five books of Moses – shows that these excuse makers want to be righteous and holy, but they think to earn it by their work. Most Christians can be placed into this second group of excuse makers.

It’s not that they don’t know God or that they want nothing to do with Him. But having zeal they have no knowledge. They think the godly life is the life lived by the law rather than by mercy from a heart made pure by the blood of Jesus. They measure themselves and everyone against the law, and often find themselves faithful to it. But they are deluded. Their confidence is in the law, in doing certain things and refraining from others.

This second group of excuse makers thinks there is always more work to be done to please God; that by their hard work they will earn a seat at the banquet. Every thing they do is motivated by the law, by what would please God rather than being motivated by God’s love, which is mercy. So their hearts are not cheerful to give but always compare what they give to what they get or what others give. The law never makes a cheerful giver, in money or in life.

The second group of excuse makers would make the law the measure of righteousness rather than the blood of Christ, which is mercy.

The third group of excuse makers are the worst, if any can be worse than another. They are the ones who simply deny the Master outright. They don’t ask to be excused as the first two. They don’t give an excuse as if they might come later. They simply say, “I have a wife, and so I cannot come.” They are married to the world and its pleasures. They think nothing of the law or of the kingdom or of the banquet. They only think on what they want to do, what makes them happy.

So who, then, is left to come to the Master’s banquet? Who is left to be blessed to eat supper in the kingdom of God? Those who are compelled to come by the Master’s servant.

The servant is the Holy Spirit who calls, gathers, and enlightens us by His gifts – the gifts of preaching and teaching – gathering us to Jesus in whom we have rest from the law and from the world. He compels us to come to the Master’s banquet. Those thus compelled own nothing of their own like the landowners who think they own their own righteousness. They have no delusions of being able to keep the law like those who must see to the five yoked oxen, for they see their wretchedness. They find no fulfillment in the world’s pleasures. They are the poor in spirit who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

It is those who are compelled to come who will fill the Master’s house at the close of the age.

Blessed are you. You cannot by your own reason or strength believe in the Lord Jesus Christ or come to Him, but you are being compelled to come to the Master’s banquet. The Spirit of God is compelling you. He uses all manner of things to compel you. He uses sickness. He uses divorce. He uses abandonment. He uses poverty. But He also uses a believing husband or wife or child. He uses a congregation and a Christian friend. He uses all things – like those in the parable who were poor and blind and lame and crippled, who were homeless and forsaken – so that you would gain a heart of understanding and wisdom that it is not because of you that He calls you, but because of His great mercy and so that His house will be full.

He is building His house with you, you being the living stones built into the temple of God, the house of the Lord. And until such a time as His house is full, until that end-of-days banquet, He continues to bless you with the invitation in the Body and Blood of Jesus. He continues to promise you a place in the kingdom by promising you place now at the altar. He continues to invite you and countless others by placing the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ into your ears.

By this you know the love of God: that He laid down His life for you that you may be called the children of God, heirs of the eternal kingdom. And so you are. Blessed are those who will eat supper in the kingdom of God.

+ In Nomine Iesu +