|The Great Supper, Tintoretto|
The Second Sunday after Trinity, 2019
- Andrea will have retina surgery and is seeing an expert at Standford.
- Elizabeth Mior - has cancer. She is the two small children.
- Christina Jackson's MRI shows a long-existing problem that can be addressed by her urologist.
- Those looking for work.
- Glen Kotten is doing well and appreciates your prayers.
|Norma A. Boeckler|
Background for Sermon
This text speaks of a great supper, a banquet, so some would limit it to just one part of Christianity, the Lord's Supper. A sect will isolate one item, sometimes one phrase from the Bible, and make that the whole banquet, like serving salad all evening - a great banquet of one item.
So there is a constant effort to divide up into competing factions. In the Church of Rome, the priesthood was separated by giving them both elements of communion, the laity only one element.
Among Lutherans, factions organize themselves according to one idea, such as smells and bells high church practices. One must empty his pockets at a clergy catalog business to qualify with the right robes, hats, incense, and accessories. Add a Latin name and put those initials after every signature - a new sect within the groups. People ask, "What must I do to qualify for those initials?"
Luther called this approach "a banquet for mice." The metaphor described here in Luke 14 is not one item but everything in Christianity. The entire Christian life is a banquet that includes teaching, worship, all honorable professions, and family life.
Therefore, when we study one passage in the Scriptures, that reading is a matter of focus, not exclusion. The reading involves all of Scripture, so the more we see the Bible as The Book of the Holy Spirit, a unique and unified Truth, the more we understand from that passage.
That is why it is not useful for the laity to allow themselves to be separated and lowered in value, as if the clergy know the Scriptures better and more thoroughly. That also serves as an excuse for laity not to know much and rely of human authorities -rather than the Book that judges all books. Relying on clergy for the answers, especially celebrity clergy, is like ordering a dessert at a restaurant (promoted as the best dessert ever) and finding out it is being thawed because the desserts are delivered frozen, not made fresh.
The Christian Church includes all, not a hierarchy of political leaders, clergy who hope to be voted into a luxury office, and the laity expected to pay for this. Every concept is to be viewed through the Scriptures, with various perspectives valued as long as they are derived from the clear, plain meaning of the Scriptures.
Luther resisted creating a dogmatics textbook, because he came from that background in Medieval scholasticism - giant works written by infallible authorities, who could not be questioned. This detour was repeated after the Reformation and is honored today. Once a giant dogmatics book - or set of books - is in print, it becomes the actual ruling norm that tells us what the Bible would have said if the Holy Spirit had been as wise and insightful as the current seminary professors.
Karl Barth, a Leftist, moved his mistress into his house with his wife and children, paying the mistress - Charlotte Kirschbaum - no wages but only a pittance for expenses. She did most of the research and writing of "his" great mult-volume work, Church Dogmatics. Many venerate him to this day, and his theology is the foundation of Fuller Seminary, its crafts and assaults.
The result of the Novi Dogmatiki (I made that up to impress, always use foreign words, Latin best of all) - the New Dogmatics - is to enshrine the fads of today and entomb the Scriptures as God's Word. The Boomer clergy are not going to change this. The youngest generations need to recapture the spirit of the Reformation.
When the printing press was invented in the West, the vast majority of books published were Bibles and Christian books. People were energized by the efficacious Word. That has been lost almost completely, as if humanity as pushed away from the banquet table to gorge itself on stale, dry leftovers.
The Great Supper - So Many Excuses
KJV Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
The certain man is God and He is engaged in making a great supper. As Lenski write, this is imperfect and mans an ongoing effort, which began in the Old Testament. The scope of the Christian Gospel is seldom appreciated, because it really began at Creation and was promised when Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise. They would experience the payment for their sinful nature but they were also told that Satan's head would be crushed in the future, though he would wound the heal of the Savior.
All the events of the Old Testament are the cradle in which the Infant lies. We see the cradle, primarily, and can only glimpse at the figure being revealed in certain, small stages. The more we know both Testaments, the better we understand the New Testament. The Old is not simply the foundation of the New, but both are woven together and cannot be separated.
This parable is set so that everyone can appreciate it. Once a year we had a county-wide picnic in our area. Everyone was welcome but not everyone attended. The congressman who sponsored it became famous (Stockman, Reagan administration) but we did not go, little knowing who he would become. So there are still great feasts where many are welcome but a limited number attend.
18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
I would argue that a large part of the Bible is devoted to thwart these excuses. As we get older, we see that the everyday goals and objects that once mattered so much are far surpassed by the treasures of the Christian Faith. That is why the quotations from the House Postils will be called The Treasures of Luther's House Postils. One person wrote, "The House Postils are easier to read than the big set of sermons, plainer speech." And I thought, "Another win."
God promises that He will provide for us, one of our chief worries, and for good reason these days. And He constantly shows us how so much has been done and continues to be done to bless us. We were all told at one school that we had to pass training on the new software in order to teach in the future. In addition, training would be by invitation only. This was not the great banquet but at least a meal voucher for the future. I waited and waited and finally wrote, "Where is my invite?!" I saw no better way to eliminate old, rusty teachers and no way to appeal. But the invitation came and I passed.
In Arkansas a town was completely washed away. A couple had the basics of their house put together, but both their jobs washed away in the flood. The woman said, "We will wait for the will of
God." In the midst of devastation she had faith in God, so she was not bereft but hopeful.
The excuses offered are meant to cover the expanse of reasons why people do not partake of the riches of God's Kingdom. The Word converts but people let that initial faith fade away through neglect, and many wish to facilitate that loss too.
The excuses are comical because land is not going away. The oxen can be test-driven another day, but the feast day is fixed. One is just married, so that is more permanent (we would hope) than the land and more easily worked out than oxen-testing day.
But I have seen this among clergy. They are too busy for the Word. One said, "I haven't kept up. You have." His indolence could have been countered but that became his excuse.
Clergy are the most vulnerable for being buried in a mountain of trivia and a calendar of events. The publishing houses say, "We know you are too busy so we will digest everything for you and present it colorfully, with all kinds of helps." A Methodist offered all this for free (Craig Groeschel) so I signed up for the license to use it (not that I would). Thereupon I found Lutheran pastors using it voraciously - without giving credit, which was expected.
The resentment excuse is common too. Something was bad in the past (and I have no doubts, my list is much longer) so they will not worship anywhere or study anything. That means letting an evil, corrupt person stand between you and the Savior. That makes the evil person closer to the Savior. Ironic? One man complained about hypocritical people keeping him away. I said, "I am a hypocrite too." He dropped his head, "So am I." He went to church from that time on and began mowing the lawn.
The point of the Scriptures is not the organization but the Gospel of the King of Kings. It is like saying to the slave who issued the invitation, "I do not like you, so I am not attending the feast."
Lenski, Luke Commentary, p. 779
"The parable offers three excuses as samples, and let it be understood that these are the best that were offered and are still the best that are offered today, all the many others being worse as are those recorded in the other parable. Matt. 22:6. By stressing the mildest all the rest stand condemned. All the excuses are empty, have to be, for no reason exists why a man should not save his soul by means of God's gospel of redemption but only a multiplied and tremendous reason why he should. All three present something that is perfectly legitimate in itself but use this in a fear fully illegitimate way for declining the means of salvation and thus salvation itself. All are dishonest, for they that make these excuses know that they are pretending."
21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
The streets and lanes mean - the entire city. The ones invited before had means, property, security. The new group has nothing and they are seen as nothing in the eyes of powerful and wealthy.
This is another example of ironic humor, in my opinion. The great and wise are too noble. too busy, too good to attend. That is, the world is so taken up with itself that it spurns the treasures of the Gospel and glorifies itself in a hall of mirrors - vanity, all is vanity. They make fun of the Gospel and those who believe the Scriptures with sincere hearts.
I had interesting experiences working in a Walmart store, shelving food and general products. Most customers were wonderful and appreciative; however, some were snooty and above it all. When we had a day where highly paid WM staff came in and pretended to do our work, the same attitude prevailed. When someone rebuffed my friendliness, I thought but did not say, "And how many books have you published?" I once interviewed a famous writer for 30 minutes because no one recognized him. After they did, they surrounded him as if he were Jesus performing miracles. (The writer was a mentor to Prince Charles, so I was that close to royalty, only one person removed.)
God has shown, across the ages, that when individuals were too good, too hardened or blind for the Gospel, He extended the invitation. Paul said, "To the Jews first, then to the Gentiles," which was also the mission of Jesus. That did not mean the Gospel failed to take root among Jews, rich people like Lydia, and others, even the great but badly flawed Constantine the Great. But the Gospel rain moves so that those believers in place can continue the mission while new areas are opened up.
Many people are involved in special kinds of cooking and foods, more so than I have ever seen. They are discerning about the food they grow and what that means for nutrition, health, and so forth. Our friend from St. Louis photographs the meals he prepares and posts them on Facebook.
This parable has a message about all the wonderful things already prepared for us and waiting for us to enjoy. First, they are the spiritual insights of the Scriptures, which can never be exhausted.
Secondly, they are the miraculous things that happen when the Word is treated as the living Seed and broadcast here and there. Our little project of making up a booklet for the Philippine mission gained a new facet when a regular participant offered to translate it into the second major language of the area (baby Andrea's mother's language). That means a Gospel booklet in three languages and prepared so other world missions can use it and reproduce it without extra cost. A Word document can fly around the world and be edited/translated easily into another language.
Believers see those things happening all the time, and they experience the cross. Opposition to the Word, which is bearing the cross, will never end, and the evidence of it should only encourage us that the Gospel is effective in dividing the sheep from the Judas goats.
This is clearly God the Father setting up the feast and the Son of God distributing the invitation. Therefore, God is truly full of wrath when all the blessings, mercies, and forgiveness are rejected as having less value than land, oxen, and a spouse.
28. What the Pharisee now says: “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God”- to which Christ answers: Yes, blessed are they; but you and your followers are concerned about your farm and oxen. You speak of these things, therefore you shall know that a supper has been prepared, of which the poor shall eat, as the text says, Matthew 11:5, Pauperes evangelizantur, the poor have the Gospel preached to them. For the powerful, the saints, the wise do not want it, therefore it has come to pass that both priests and leaders have been cast away as the best wine, because they have held so firmly to their oxen, their land and their wives; and in their stead have been promoted the poor beggars, who came to the Gospel in this glorious supper.
22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
The last part is when the Gospel came to wild people (Picts, full of tattoos) of England and other places. The Gospel converted pagan Rome and built an enormous empire protecting Europe. When that Byzantine Empire collapsed, the desire for wildly expensive spices sent ships across the Atlantic to reach our shores. The Gospel came to American Indians and those seeking religious freedom found America to be an ideal place.
Black slaves heard the Gospel, and that Gospel in the hands of Wilberforce (Britain) and others ended slavery in England and America. Yet people are still kept as slaves and treated as property, because the evil of man seems to have no bounds.
The power of the Gospel cannot be stopped. It can be halted temporarily and blocked in many ways, but the living Word has divine power in itself, so that the jailer can in fact be converted by the prisoner, which is what happened with John Bunyan (Pilgrim's Progress) and his jailer.
I remember our English teacher ranting at us, "If you have not read Pilgrim's Progress, you are IGNORANT!" So I read it, reviewed it, read it again, read it to my wife, and gave it to two different friends.