1 John 3:13-18
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
But things are never as they seem with our Lord. We’re always filtering Him through our lenses, interpreting Him through with our worldly logic and culture. He’s always having a conversation about heavenly things and we’re obsessing about earthly things. We’re missing the point. Missing the boat. The ship has already sailed and we’re not on it. Things are not as they seem with Him.
There they are sitting at a banquet on the Day of Rest. The Sabbath. So He’s talking about the banquet that gives eternal rest. Jesus was present at that banquet which means rest is to be found there, in Him. He shows that by giving a broken down sinner forgiveness and healing. He heals him both physically and spiritually showing that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. The one whom true rest of the soul comes from.
For you can have no physical rest without spiritual rest. That’s true isn’t it? You can spend 8 hours in bed but if your mind isn’t at piece there is no rest to be found. If your conscience was bothered about something, worried about details, about how people will react, about some broken relationship, or the possibility of a broken relationship, then rest is not to be had. So true rest—that’s what Sabbath means—comes only through rest with the Father through forgiveness of your sins and the covering of your sinful nature. Relieving your conscience of burdens. Setting you at piece internally, which flows forth into rest in your body too.
Our Lord is the Lord of the Sabbath. He gives true rest. His rest is a healing peace. When you have Him in your soul it pays dividends in your body. He gives this rest through His banquet. We can only come to His banquet as humble sinners, as those who can not repay Him. If we assume we can repay Him, if we assume that we are so important that we have a place of honour we reject His summons to the banquet. We reject the faith that trusts in Him and takes hold of the peace He gives.
After the man states, “Blessed are all those who will eat bread in the kingdom of heaven,” Our Lord then tells another tale of banquets. For this is a group of self-important men who hold up before God their good works telling Him how good they are.
A man gives a great supper. He invites the guests. All is ready so He sends His servant forth to tell them. But no one will come. They are too busy living their lives to bother with this man and His feast. So He gets angry. He rips up their invitations. He sends His servant to the highways and byways, and gathers in those who can not repay Him, those who have no relationship to Him, those who can’t get their on their own, those who are hungry, who want to eat. This great feast is such a wonderful thing, that the banquet hall must be filled to over flowing so that none of those self-important men who don’t want it can even get in to it.
You see, with the Lord nothing is as it seems. It would have been easy to take His earlier words about sitting at the back of a banquet hall as simple wisdom about politeness, about win friends and influence people, getting yourself honoured in the presence of others, about how to win browny points with God. But Jesus isn’t talking about that at all! He’s talking His heavenly banquet that He gives to us on earth. Those who excuse themselves from this banquet will never have a place at this banquet. Those who do not come in repentant faith to this banquet will never have a place at this banquet. Those who reject the preaching of the servant God the Father sent out to prepare all things for this banquet will never have a place at this banquet. For those who do not listen to Jesus, to His summons, who get caught up in the things of this world, will have their place given to another.
It is a stern warning. So dear ones, one of the lessons to be learned is that if someone asks you about your faith, do not talk about yourself, do not talk about your works, about how much you love Jesus. For that is to hold up yourself and your works before them and before God the Father. Instead, just talk about Jesus. About His love for you and all sinners. About His death which has prepared a banquet in the presence of your enemies. About His resurrection which gives this banquet life-giving power. For He is the invitation that will summon them to His eternal banquet.
Another lesson is that you must learn about His banquet. If you are not yet a professing member of this church, seek that out so that you may be invited receive true life. For that’s what our Lord is talking about: eternal life. Life with God in His presence after you die. And abundant life now in the midst of this dying world. For that is what John and the Proverbs were talking about too: loving each other, not merely in deed, or word, or talk, but truly loving from the core of your being. Jesus calls this the abundant life. Living the wise, joyous, peace filled life that flows from God’s presence in you. His presence in you through His banquet. Eating and drinking the Lord into yourself so that His life flows in you now and forever.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON