In many and various ways, the disease—to us—is worth it—or we make it seem that way.

Today, we call dropsy edema, and we go no further. But then—dropsy was the rich man’s disease, a swelling of the body that included insatiable thirst.

The ones who suffered from dropsy, so it seemed, were the ones who could afford to fill their body to the brim. The only ones who could treat the ailment were the ones who could afford to fill it up again and again.

There was the disease—in this case, the man-made ailment that would eventually consume everything—food, drink, time, money—the body and your life—but it was worth it—it was made to seem worth it—because it was the rich man’s disease.

That’s why he’s present at the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees. He was one you’d want to invite, one you’d want to show up.

They don’t think of it as being in the presence of disease. They think of it as someone important showing up to the party, their status is improved by him being there, he being a great and rich man.

The disease is worth it—if you get to be rich.

This is why Jesus speaks as He does.

In verse thirty-three of the same chapter He says, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33).

And in Matthew chapter nineteen, Jesus says: “Only with difficulty will a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23).

The disease—to us—seems worth it.

Maybe you think I’m being extreme, making the man with dropsy into an unrealistic example, but consider your station and life.

I’ll consider mine.

During Street Fair, I worked a shift.

Afterwards, I enjoyed a cheeseburger.

Who wouldn’t?

And since it was right next door, I also bought a cup of ice cream.

With the heat as oppressive as it was, who’ll cast the first stone?

But then—I think it was forty-five actual seconds later, I received a message on my phone—and what do you think that message was about?

It was exercise, a workout, of course it was.

That’s how God works, it seems, from time to time.

It was a workout that anyone could do anywhere—unless, of course, you’re holding a cup of ice cream.

The disease—that is, the sin, the long list of bad decisions in succession—isn’t worth it, but we make it seem that way until some catastrophe occurs.

Now, because of where I’ve served as a pastor and because of where I grew up—I’ve spent a number of hours talking to addicts—drugs, alcohol, pornography, whatever.

Universally, they hate and love what they do.

It’s the worst thing imaginable—wouldn’t wish it on anyone—and—it’s the only fleeting comfort available—do you wanna do it, too?

It consumes everything—time, money, body, and life—leaving an anxious, skulking, empty shadow of once vibrant, thriving life.

Again and again, the disease isn’t worth it, but we make it seem that way until some catastrophe occurs.

The proverb has it this way: “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11).

That’s some folly, but maybe you’re not an addict.

Or a glutton.

Or a rich man.

Maybe you’ve stopped sinning. Maybe you need no help. Maybe you learned everything a long time ago, and that’s good enough—thank you very much. Maybe everything would be better if it were done your way, because maybe you know better. Maybe you know best.

And—maybe you’re hateful and proud and well on your way down the wide road that leads to destruction. You’re never alone, because those who enter by it are many (cf. Matthew 7:13).

The disease seems worth it—especially to those who deny the disease.

Like satan and his children. They all believe the lies and want you to believe them, too.

He heard the first promise of a savior: “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15), but he had it in his hardened heart that he might yet win the world to himself.

It’s as if satan says—and blasphemously—“A world who would not purchase for a bruise?”

As though the world was his to win.

Unbelievably to us—to satan, it’s worth it.

That’s the bargain—his bargain. And ours.

And it’s terrible.

With food, drugs, sex, laziness, hatred, and all else.

We tell ourselves:

Whatever’s good—it isn’t good.

Whatever’s necessary—it isn’t needed.

Whatever’s true, honorable, just, pure, or lovely—don’t even think about it (cf. Philippians 4:8).

“Let evil now become my good.”

That’s what we say whenever we prefer disease to cure.

“A world who would not purchase for a bruise?”

That’s what the devil says—and blasphemously—when he believes his lie, that he could win.

And—in perfect faith—that’s what Jesus says when He considers us and what it take to win the world—us included—from sin, death, and satan.

“A world who would not purchase for a bruise?”

“Though He was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to [bruise and] death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

For Himself He chose the lowest seat. And for us.

For Himself He chose the greatest scorn. And for us.

“A world who would not purchase for a bruise?”

So—“For our transgressions, He was pierced. For our iniquities, He was crushed. Upon him was put the chastisement that brought us peace, and by his wounds are we healed” (cf. Isaiah 53:5).

The world is purchased and won in the bruise and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, who—today—sends the man He healed away because gaining the grace of God is worth losing status in the eyes of Pharisees and principalities and powers.

Rich man or not—he no longer needs the Pharisees, for he has all things in Christ.

Jesus doesn’t forgive your sins and free you from satan so that you’d choose to return to sin and satan.

Jesus forgives you and frees you from sin and satan that you would return, again and again, to Him.

The Pharisees aren’t needed. Satan is conquered.

The disease isn’t worth it—and never was.

Now we see what means we have—the means that God provides—for sin and death and satan to be overcome, not just finally and forever but even here today.

This side of the resurrection you can’t stop sinning.

Return, again and again, to the Lord your God, and He will sustain you.

And—by the grace of God, this side of the resurrection you can, with the Holy Spirit, overcome the rich man’s disease, the glutton’s appetite, the addict’s folly, and satan’s lie.

You are not bound but freed.

You are not proud but humble and faithful.

You are not dead but made alive in Christ who chose the lowest seat for Himself and was exalted by the Father—so that all who belong to Him would live, and live forever.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Trinity 17, 2021
Luke 14:1-11
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

I need to talk about a term that’s used a lot but is not clearly defined. It means everything and nothing, whatever the user of the term desires, but never just one thing—and so it’s a meaningless phrase.

And the term is “high church” or “low church.”

I’m not judging you for using the term.

Use the term if you wish.

But have a clear definition in mind so that those who don’t understand, people like me, can be easily taught.

We must all become like children and learn together.

From the Proverb: “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:8-9).

Let’s begin with today’s Gospel lesson.

There is the kingdom of God, heaven, the faithful life, and the banquet.

And there are the excuses men give when the matter of faith and salvation is put to them: fields, farms, and land—for the first. Oxen, beasts of burden, and possessions—for the second. And a wife, children, and family—for the third.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a man who hasn’t used one of these as an excuse to get out of what God requires for entry into His kingdom—a living faith that hears the Word of God and does it.

After all, it’s God who’s at work in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (cf. Philippians 2:13).

So there’s God—who’s occupied with His work to save and care for you.

And there’s you—who’s occupied with your work to earn a living or keep it.

Today, notice that what’s wrong in the Gospel lesson is, at first, commendable: each man has a very high view of his work.

If you work the fields, it’s commendable for you to have a high view of that work.

To know the importance of it.

To live as though your work really matters—as it certainly does.

That the first man has such a high view of his work is commendable.

Likewise, the second.

He has five yoke of oxen, integral to his work.

It’s commendable that he has such a high view of his responsibility as both worker in and steward of God’s creation.

And likewise, the third.

Marriage is an institution that survived the Fall.

A man does not leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife as a result of the Fall.

Rather, the two shall become one flesh because God created husband and wife to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. That was before the Fall.

Marriage is the highest of institutions, and the man in today’s Gospel lesson should be commended in that he cherishes his wife as he does.

Having a high view of the responsibilities God has given is commendable.

But what’s not commendable is having a low view of the kingdom of God.

This—and I’ll explain it more—this is why I put no stock in terms like “high church” and “low church.”

This is why I don’t use those terms.

God Himself miraculously comes to us, forgiving our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.

He delivers us from death and devil by delivering to us the priceless treasure of Jesus’ Body and Blood.

Is that not the highest experience we can attain?

For God Himself to be with us and for our good?

Or—who has a low view of that?

For that matter, let’s apply the same descriptor to other institutions.

Who among you favor low marriage?

It’s tempting, isn’t it, to make of marriage no serious matter, to do whatever you feel like, to have no rules?

When that happens we’re not surprised at the serious harm that follows in the family, the church, and community.

Does anyone, with their marriage, truly aim low so as to avoid disappointment?

Who among you prefer a low family, with low children, and a low view of work or responsibility?

It’s certainly easier not to care, not to learn, not to teach, and all things are lawful—but not all things are beneficial (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:23).

“High Church” and “Low Church” are meaningless terms, because their definitions are either self-evident or not.

Regardless—perhaps we should think different.

St. Paul writes: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (cf. Philippians 4:8).

And today, I would add, we should have a high view of these things and expectations to match.

Jesus tells the parable of the banquet not because we’re supposed to have a low view of fields, farms, and families—again, it’s commendable that these men have a high view of what God has given them.

But Jesus tells this parable because we’re supposed to have a high view, also, of the kingdom of God.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10).

But “How are they to believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching” (cf. Romans 10:14) that “Now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by [that priceless treasure,] the blood of Christ” (cf. Ephesians 2:13)?

You’ve been brought near because you’ve heard—

You’ve heard because someone was preaching—

That the invitation is to all.

“A man once gave a great banquet and invited many [that is, all]. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room’ [because the Master had invited all, and He meant it]. And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet’” (Luke 14:16-24).

If Jesus Himself were a preacher in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, no one would like Him.

He ends that sermon there—with the condemnation of those who rejected His invitation.

He is not winsome.

The very next thing He says, verse twenty-five, the verse immediately after today’s Gospel lesson, sounds even worse.

Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25).

What’s He saying?

And does He mean it?

Are you His disciple?

Of course it’s commendable for you to care for your land, your field, your property and possessions.

We need more of that—not less.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

Of course it’s commendable for you to care for the ox, the heifer, the calf, and sometimes on this list even the child.

We need more of that—not less.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

And of course it’s commendable for you to care for your wife, your husband, your children, your family, your house and home.

You should not have a low view of those things.

They are some of the most marvelous gifts of God.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

In a parable full of anger, concluding with condemnation, a parable seemingly devoid of any Gospel, there is yet real comfort for us sinners, because the invitation is to all.

Each of the three men had a high view of their responsibilities in life.

That is commendable.

But each of the three men had a low view of God.

They did not take Him seriously, nor His invitation.

They considered neither His anger nor His judgment.

And so, “None of those men who were invited shall taste [the] banquet” (Luke 14:24).

In the parable, the time has passed for them.

But today, for us, there is yet time remaining.

If you’re bound to the land, work the land, and God be praised for all that’s done through you.

But be bound first to Jesus Christ, the Lord.

If you’re bound to the beasts of the earth, care for God’s creatures, and praise God for the bounty of daily bread He gives to all of us through you.

But be bound first to Jesus Christ, the Lord.

And if you’re bound to house and home, child and spouse, consider the million monumental and minuscule tasks you accomplish every day, and rejoice that God has chosen to care for literally every human being through people like you.

But be bound first to Jesus Christ, the Lord.

Because it’s Christ, and Christ alone, who has died for you.

It’s Christ, and Christ alone, who redeems you from death and devil.

It’s Christ, and Christ alone, who feeds you, body and soul, and strengthens you to life everlasting.

Bind yourself to Christ and be brought near by the priceless treasure of the Blood of Christ.

That is the highest experience we can attain.

We should act like it.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Trinity 2, 2021
Luke 14:15-24
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

I’d like to look specifically at the first half of today’s Gospel lesson—where Jesus heals the man with dropsy, which is, today, called edema.

At the heart of today’s Gospel lesson is the proper understanding of the Third Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Or you might remember the older translation: Thou shalt sanctify the holy-day.

So what’s the holy-day? Or the Sabbath?

How do we sanctify it? And how different is that from remembering it and keeping it holy?

“Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” (Luke 14:3). Or—perhaps we should ask it this way—“At what point does working on Sunday become despising the Sabbath?”

Legalism does not provide the answer.

There isn’t a list. There isn’t a step-count threshold not to be stepped past, or some golden circle that lets you know when you’re in or out.

That would be legalism.

That would be modern-day Judaism.

This came up in Sunday School not long ago, but the modern, Jewish understanding of the Sabbath is this: you are to do no work. You may not socialize. You may not carry your children in public.

It’s considered work to turn the oven on, so meals are served cold. It’s considered work to turn the lights on, so you sit in the dark or by a window. You can’t carry anything—books from the library, groceries from the store, your own children from the park. That’s work.

So—let’s sum up—on the Sabbath—sit there, in the dark, do nothing, eat cold or room temperature food, talk to nobody, and—enjoy it. That’s the Sabbath.

Nobody’s gonna do that, which is failure enough, but here’s where legalism truly fails. Since no one wants to do any of that, exceptions are made.

You can set everything up with an electric timer.

It’s not considered work to open the oven and close it, only to turn it on.

That’s a bit of a hassle, though, because not everyone knows how to set an electric timer.

So, you could have a non-Jew turn your oven on for you, carry your kids, whatever you need.

He would be called a “Shabbat goy,” a non-Jew Sabbath worker, but that has its own hassle, because it breaks the Sabbath to pay someone on the Sabbath to do work on the Sabbath.

It would all have to be pre-arranged, pre-paid.

So to get around the hassle of their understanding of God, in Manhattan—and in other cities—certain Jews have installed what’s called an eruv.

An eruv is an unbroken wire, suspended off the ground like a power line. In Manhattan, it’s eighteen miles long, it’s checked every Thursday, and costs $100,000 a year to maintain.

But if you live within this magical circuit, you get to treat the inside of it as a private space, like your own home—where you can use a cane or a walker, carry your house keys, tissues, medication.

Otherwise, doing any of that breaks the Sabbath.

That’s legalism.

Excuses for self. Judgment for everyone else.

So…“‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?’ [The lawyers and Pharisees] remained silent” (cf. Luke 14:3-4).

The Pharisees were watching Jesus because it was the Sabbath, and no work was to be done on the Sabbath.

St. Luke writes, in chapters four, six, and thirteen, all prior to today’s Gospel lesson, that Jesus heals on the Sabbath, so the Pharisees know to watch Him carefully.

They want to say you can’t do work on the Sabbath.

But they also want to eat hot food.

They don’t want to agree with Jesus about anything.

But they would want to be healed.

“Then [Jesus] took [the man with dropsy] and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, ‘Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?’ And they could not reply to these things” (Luke 14:4-6).

The Pharisees and lawyers couldn’t respond to these things, because Jesus summarizes the Law. From Deuteronomy chapter twenty-two, thus says the Lord: “You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again” (Deuteronomy 22:4).

But even before that, thus says the Lord: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).

They could not reply to these things, because they knew neither the Scriptures nor the power of God (cf. Mark 12:24).

Sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember it and keep it holy.

Pharisees and lawyers know the commandments. That is, they know how to find them, what page they’re on, maybe even how they’re numbered, but they can’t answer, in any way, What does this mean?

Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27), “For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8).

The Sabbath isn’t about doing work or not doing work. Jesus does work on the Sabbath and quotes the Scriptures and the power of God that teaches us to help our neighbor and to love him as ourself.

Rather, the Sabbath is about who we are, who God is, what we need, and what God provides.

We don’t define the Third Commandment in terms of “Thou shalt always go to church and never enjoy Sundays at all ever or thou shalt burn in hell.”

But we do define the Third Commandment in terms of fearing and loving God so that we do not despise preaching and God’s Word but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.

To despise preaching is not simply to disagree with what is preached. Disagreement alone doesn’t mean you despise preaching.

To despise preaching is a matter of the heart, to harden your heart against what God says.

If you ignore the advice of your oncologist or the police officer in riot gear, you do so at your own risk.

It doesn’t matter what I say.

It doesn’t matter what you say.

It matters what “Thus says the Lord…”

Have you hardened your heart against the Word of God? Do you know it well enough to have hardened your heart against it? Do you ask what God says and do you demand to know?

Asking it that way, the Sabbath isn’t about working or not working, it’s about the heart—what you need and what God gives and whether or not you know it.

To despise God’s Word is to fain tearing from off His throne, Christ Jesus God’s beloved Son (cf. LSB 655:1).

God has given us our reason and our senses, true. But they are to be put in place and kept in check. The Word of God is the only rule and norm of faith and practice.

To hold the Word of God and its proclamation as sacred is to recognize it as the set apart thing it is.

No other book contains the Word of God.

No other God desires to save apart from works done by us in righteousness.

There is no other righteousness but Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, who died to sin and lives to God, our righteousness.

These are matters of the heart. Matters of faith.

If you have to work on Sunday, work on Sunday, but don’t presume to tell us that you don’t need what God provides or that always working on Sunday doesn’t also invite the temptation to believe that your life is in your hands. Don’t presume to tell us that what you need is not what God gives—here and now, every week.

God desires to forgive the world.

In Christ, He has forgiven it.

He will, one day, require of you your soul, and you don’t know what day that’ll be.

So hear the Word of God and its proclamation.

Hold it sacred.

Hear and have the forgiveness of sins—preached, poured out, and given and shed for you.

Gladly hear and learn it.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.

And love your neighbor as yourself.

This is the Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Trinity 17, 2020
Luke 14:1-11
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

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
Luke 14:15-24
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt