They’re all invited, but not all of them come.
They’re all invited, but this great banquet doesn’t seem to improve their appearance or station.
That’s what’s going on.
You can’t climb the social ladder by accepting invites from unpopular, unloving and unloved people.
So all are invited, but not all of them come.
They don’t claim to be hostile to God, but neither do they rejoice to hear Jesus say, “For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet” (Luke 14:24).
Everyone is invited to learn—to be baptized—to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus—and—we do so according to our Lord’s invitation.
It may not seem like the world loves satan.
But Sunday’s the only day to sleep in, or…
A bad experience—had once—and years ago—with a pushy lady in church—or a rude old man—and now, church-going’s ruined forever…
Or god is worshiped when it’s convenient or immediately prudent to do so, as is done by the busy worker who has no time for God but all the time for family, friends, and fleeting fun.
It may not seem like the world loves satan, but all of that is hatred of God.
It’s difficult to know how to respond to such excuses, other than to describe what excuses are like and admit that everyone has them.
We’re all at ease ignoring sin and letting everyone do as they will so long as we have the appearance of peace.
“An enormous amount of calm can be assumed,” says the actually naked emperor.
In today’s Gospel lesson—in the good news for today—we don’t, at first, have the appearance of peace but the stern Law of God preached fully.
God is angry.
None of those who rejected the invitation will ever taste the banquet.
None of those who want their name on the rolls but not their butt in the pews and their heart for their neighbor—none of them—will enter.
They’ll be cast into the abyss where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The invitation to hear and believe and learn and rejoice is extended, and, week after week, it’s rejected.
You need to know that a tacit rejection of the truth is still a rejection of the truth.
And we’re all guilty of this.
Bad choices made. Wrong choices made. Non-Christian choices made. Ungodly choices made. And we say, “But I still love ‘em.” And what we mean is, “I’ve decided to completely ignore their sin and my own so as to maintain the appearance of peace.”
We act as though excuses permit sin.
That’s a far more comfortable way to proceed, I agree, but that’s the Neville Chamberlain way of dealing with the devil.
To refuse the invitation to hear, learn, believe, and rejoice is to love satan. And to water down the expectations of God so that more people think themselves at peace and safe actually endangers the souls of all those nearby enough to hear what’s said.
You have not peace—if you have false peace.
So we won’t do that. We don’t give that away.
But—true as that is, that’s not the main point of the parable.
The main point is this: we like being busy—we don’t like being faithful.
The invitation goes to the wealthy—a landowner, a grazier, and a newlywed.
It is the height of arrogance and pride—when invited to a party—to see who all’s been invited first before deciding whether or not to go.
That’s basically what’s going on.
No one’s opposed to attending a party.
No one’s opposed to attending a church.
It just depends on your definition of party and church.
That’s why the Lord is angry.
The Lord’s definition of “party” or “banquet” and “church” is the last thing the world wants to give its time to.
But—it’s the only thing worth your time.
And—it’s the only thing enabling you to spend All Time rejoicing.
Those who think themselves wise and wealthy reject the invitation.
So the Lord sends the invitation out to the poor, the lame, and the blind.
The invitation goes out to beggars who won’t turn down a free meal, who need all that the Lord offers.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and [all that you need for this body and life] will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
May God, in His mercy, plant this hunger in all of us and our children!
May God, in His mercy, teach us to be beggars.
God gathers His people from the poor, the lame, and the blind (cf. Luke 14:13).
We bring nothing to the Kingdom.
We’re all beggars. This is true.
Wir Sind Alle Bettler. Hoc Est Verum.
The party isn’t more interesting because of our arrival.
In fact, we’re a drain on the Kingdom’s resources.
We’re neither morally nor ceremonially pure. We’re not ethnically clean. We weren’t born of the right mother. We don’t belong in any king’s house, let alone the house of the King, the Lord of Hosts.
We’re beggars: poor, lame, and blind.
But we’re invited. All are invited.
Our Heavenly Father delights in your presence.
The fattened calf is fit for the sacrifice.
The Son of God has set His face toward Jerusalem, and He goes to cross and death to atone for us and all the world, to shed His blood and bring the forgiveness of sins—actual peace—to all who come to Him and hear and believe.
Roasted on the fire of the Father’s wrath, Jesus is forsaken to save us.
Washed in the blood of God, in Holy Baptism, for us, the Spirit intercedes before the Father.
Naked and helpless—with nothing to offer—beggars all—God seeks and finds and claims us as His own.
He took us by the ear to Baptism.
He scoured the world, the highways and hedges, for the weak, weary, and heavy laden.
He brought us all before the throne—to crown us with honor—to unite us, forever, to Christ.
As ugly and as dirty as our sins could be, God paid the bridal price and redeemed us out of death and hell.
And now, He has made us heirs with Christ.
All are invited. Called. And loved.
We are beggars, but God declares us to be His own children, His own people, the pure and holy Bride for His pure and holy Son.
And so we beg—and God is merciful.
We’re sick—and God is our Physician.
We’re afraid—and God is Almighty.
We sin—and while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
God’s majesty won’t be robbed.
He won’t share you with other gods, being merely the best or highest in the pantheon of world religions and fake-peace.
Our God is the Lord.
He won’t share His place or power.
No one saves himself. No one forgives himself. No one helps God. His is a Kingdom for beggars.
But…we don’t want to beg.
That’s beneath us!
What’s wrong with our fallen ears that obeying God seems wrong?
I say it’s pride.
We want our part. We want control. We want honor.
That’s the problem.
A proud man will stomp and yell, slam doors, and demand his due.
A beggar will sit in shame, wanting help, having forgotten the honor of man long ago.
To be a beggar, to have nothing, and to receive God’s free gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, is the greatest joy on earth and in heaven.
And it’s the only thing that makes for peace.
May God in His mercy preserve this doctrine and joy in all of us.
Today, as you come to this altar to beg of God the Body and Blood of Jesus, remember that you don’t deserve it.
You don’t earn it.
And it looks like nothing of value.
But Jesus calls it what it is: His Body and Blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.
I desire everyone to receive it—rightly—worthily—as Jesus commands.
We are the beggars who we would never invite to a party.
But God invites us all—to church—to hear and learn. To believe. And to rejoice—in the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. Amen.
That is the love of God to each of us. And that should be our love to each other and to all.
In Jesus’ name, Amen!
The Second Sunday After Trinity, 2020
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt