MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS
A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
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. 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. 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. 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 POOR, BLIND, AND LAME, THE HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES
In this Gospel the Lord Jesus Christ teaches us a parable about the Kingdom of God and why its population is so small. In the parable we are warned against carnal security but comforted about the lowly status of believers, which would alarm us otherwise.
The invitation to the great supper is the call to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. When people worry about who is saved through Christ, they should remember that God has made provisions for many different opportunities to hear the Gospel invitation. People have savagely prevented the Gospel from taking root in their lands, murdering missionaries and making the teaching of the Gospel illegal. We should not condemn God for the hardness of man’s heart. Nevertheless, God still extends the invitation in many forms. The problem is not getting the Gospel message out but the rejection of the Gospel. Now America is the country most in need of missionaries. Not only are we becoming drastically short of ministers, but the American people behave exactly as the people of the parable.
How burdensome is a great supper? The king—that is, God the Father Almighty—proposes to hold a great feast of celebration in eternal life. What is the cost of attending? There is no cost for us. Jesus the Son of God has paid the price with His holy and innocent blood. He has paid for our sins. The Holy Spirit has gone out through the Word and Sacraments to extend this Gospel invitation to us. This is beautifully portrayed in the Means of Grace chapter in Isaiah:
KJV Isaiah 55:1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.
If you have no money, buy and eat. Buy wine and milk without money and without price. This is nonsense for unbelievers but Gospel for Christians. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be fed.” If you hunger and thirst for the forgiveness of your sins, you will obtain this food for your soul for no price at all, through the grace, love, and mercy of God.
Let your soul delight in fatness. We say we do not like fatty foods, but we love steaks, desserts, whipped cream, ice cream. From the beginning of time man has enjoyed these foods because they are so satisfying. Wave an ice cream bar in front of someone and see who rejects it. In the same way, the Gospel of forgiveness delights us and satisfies us.
At the New Ulm conference we sang the ancient hymn “Te Deum Laudamus” many times. I keep singing it to myself. Difficult tune. Very old. But more enjoyable to sing than almost any other hymn. Why is that? Because it teaches the truth of the Bible. It proclaims the Gospel and fills our souls with the praise of God.
The great supper is God’s invitation to enjoy eternal life with the saints, angels, and the Holy Trinity. But how did people respond in the parable?
The excuses are all lame, ridiculously funny, because not one is a reason to avoid a great supper.
The excuses make us even more aware of how feeble the alibis are when people say they are too busy to receive the feast of promises concerning eternal life. Anyone who is a minister or a layman has heard them all. I remember one couple who visited church once and left in anger because the building fund was mentioned. They treated this as an imposition upon them, even though no one imagined asking them for anything, since they were visitors. One insurance agency owner summed it up well, “Any excuse will do.”
We have another version of this parable at work now in this Age of Apostasy, when the established church leaders are clearly false teachers and unbelievers. Some stories even turn out humorous in their grotesque perversion of the Gospel. One Church of England bishop said that one of his ministers could change himself into a woman and still serve as an Anglican priest. (Probably at a lower salary) Other denominations fling homosexual activism at their members and then announce to the press that the issue is dividing the denomination.
The level of apathy is so bad that I am shocked when someone reports a small knot of people who actually react appropriately to what is happening. We could also say that the great supper is the feast of orthodox Christian literature available to those who are discerning. Let me mention some things:
I have just listed the most neglected authors in the Lutheran Church today. There is more interest in the ravings of C. Peter Wagner than the pure Word of God from Luther.
We are what we consume. I thought about that when I bought groceries today. I purchased only healthy items, with lots of fruit. No cookies. No ice cream. No chips. No dessert of any kind. If we consume orthodox literature, we will enjoy the fruits of orthodoxy.
Two things have been very apparent from working on the collection of quotations known as the Megatron Database. First - I have read the same quotations so many times over that I have no doubts about the clarity of God’s Word or the meaning of the Confessions. That is one result. The second result is the fanatical opposition to the truth that I have witnessed in response to those quotations. Time after time people have raged about the very use of those quotations, the good examples from Luther and the Confessions, the bad examples from the synodical prima donnas. Neither type is my personal opinion in my words. Both types of quotations represent the expressed truths and untruths of various authors.
But I have had Lutherans say, “How dare you quote Luther so much!” One Church Growth leader published an angry letter against me in CN that said in so many words, “How dare you quote me verbatim!”
Once again, it is important to mention that this is not opposition to a person but to the Word of God. One friend phoned me and said that he did not find writing computer code exciting. I said, “Get on another mountain. You are on the wrong one for your personality.” If a Lutheran hates to hear the best quotations of Luther, he is on the wrong mountain, too. He should move over to the Enthusiasts who deny that the Holy Spirit works exclusively through the Word.
That is why we have such a ragged looking rabble at the great supper. Bishop James Pike became an Episcopalian because he was thrilled at all the high society people who were Anglicans. (Pike preceded Spong in denying all the doctrines of the Bible. He died stupidly in the desert and was mourned by all three of his wives.) In contrast, the high and mighty do not like Lutheran orthodoxy at all.
When a group broke with the Church of Rome over the declaration of the infallibility of the pope at Vatican I, not one bishop left the Church of Rome to join them. Many voted against the measure. Many voiced their opposition. Pope Pius’ own son was against it. Strossmeyer gave a famous speech against the whole agenda of Vatican I, but he never left and he humbled himself before the pope later for being so courageous. The high and mighty do not want to give up their comfort and security, the esteem of their friends. In contrast, many people will walk over their own mothers to betray the truth.
So we should not be concerned that those who love Lutheran orthodoxy today are few, poor, of low esteem in the eyes of the Apostate Church, scattered, and lacking the praise of the unbelieving world.
When no one came to the great supper, the master declared:
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. 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.
The poor, blind, and lame are symbolic but also actual. The people with the worst health are often the most grateful for what they have from God. With one foot in heaven, they receive God’s blessings in gratitude…while we look at our abundance and demand even more. Someone who has lost ground from a degenerative condition but remains cheerful and grateful to God is an example of this parable at work.
We should not forget that the master tells the servants to go out and compel people to attend his great supper. In other words, God provides the means through His servants to invite people into His Kingdom. Some people worry that it is all up to them, that they are solely responsible for millions doomed to eternity in Hell. That is typical of Reformed thinking, where money is raised with such slogans as: “God has no hands but yours, no legs, but yours, no voice, but yours.” Such blasphemy raises money but makes people asking about helping out the poor, old Creator of the universe, Who is blind, mute, and lame, according to this absurd confession of faith.
One CLC pastor was staggered when I gave a missionary sermon from Jonah, where the Word of God clearly shows that God determined to convert Ninevah and did so, in spite of the headlong rush of Jonah to leave town and go the opposite way. Who else but God could create a huge storm, catch Jonah like bait in a large fish, and vomit him on the shores of Ninevah, stinky, humbled, and ready to preach? Only God. Man said no, but God said yes. God always provides for accomplishing His will through His Word. He only asks us to teach His Word and not our word.
In the same way God snagged us through the Word. We have all wandered from the truth at times. We have been complacent. We have allowed the attractions of the world to take us from the Word. But through time and troubles God has burned the dross away to refine our faith and keep our eyes on the cross, on the Savior, on His eternal-life-giving Word. We are the poor, the blind, the lame, the riff-raff from the hedges and highways. We are the lambs gathered by Jesus and carried in His arms.