Sunday, October 17, 2010

Trinity 20

Alas, all who thirst walk to the water, and those who have no silver, walk, purchase, and eat; and walk and buy without silver, and without price, wine and milk. Why do you weigh silver on what isn't bread, and your labor for what doesn't fill? Listen, listen to Me, and eat well! And enjoy fatty (food) –your souls. Bend your ear and walk to Me; listen, and your soul may live; and I will cut to you an eternal covenant–the loving-kindnesses of David, the faithful ones. Look, a witness to the peoples I have given, a sovereign and a command to the peoples. Look, a nation you do not know, you will call; and a nation that does not know you, to you will run; for the sake of Yahweh, your God, also the Holy One of Israel, because He glorified you! Seek Yahweh while He is found, Call Him while He is near. Forsake–the guilty one--his way, and a man of unrighteousness–his thoughts; may he return to Yahweh, and He will take pity on him; and to our God, for He will greatly forgive. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways–declaration of Yahweh. For as high as the heavens from the earth, so higher are My ways from your ways, and My thoughts from your thoughts.

One thing that separates liberal from conservative candidates is their view of welfare. Liberals tend to believe that the government is under obligation to provide the main safety net for the disadvantaged, while conservatives tend to seek family, friends, church and self for help in times of need. I suppose it is good, then, to have both liberals and conservatives in every Christian congregation. Conservatives to keep the church's teachings and practices pure, and liberals to freely love with the gospel.

At first glance, it seems that God is a pure liberal, from our text. He provides food free of charge! Better food than food-stamps could buy too! It doesn't matter if you have not one silver coin in your pocket, or if you've lost your EBT card. God promises to give you food that will fill you up, fatty food that won't raise your cholesterol, eternal food and drink that blesses your soul forever! No cost at all. No work-fare to earn it by your labor. It is a free gift of God's loving-kindness alone! What a real liberal!

But as we read further, it seems that God may be a conservative! As sovereign Lord, He gives us some commands: He calls on the guilty ones among us to change our ways. He addresses the unrighteous people even to change their thoughts! He reminds us that the way's we've been going aren't anything close to His ways, and our thoughts are so very far from His way of thinking. Sounds like our God wants us to straighten up and fly right! Indeed, God must be a real conservative.

So which is it? Is God a liberal or is He a conservative? The answer is "Yes!". On the one hand, your God has some important expectations of those He invites to the heavenly wedding banquet. You had better treat His servants right, or You will pay with fiery consequences. And when you attend you better have on the proper wedding attire. On the other hand, your God opens up His wedding feast to you & folks from all walks of life, from the downtrodden and homeless to the utter riff-raff of society.

How can God seem to lay down the Law in a conservative fashion, yet extend abundant grace in a liberal manner? Well, this only make's sense when we pause to look at the covenant God cuts with you. He cut it with David, promising that the young King's descendant would someday come to save all mankind. He cut it with you the day that you were baptized in the name of that Savior from David's line. It is the one-sided covenant of loving-kindnesses that God cut into Jesus' Own body on the cross.

"A one-sided covenant?" you wonder. It sure seems like it has both a liberal and a conservative side. Indeed it does, one part for God, and another part for man. But in Christ Jesus, Who was both God and man at the same time, this covenant of your salvation was completed by your Savior alone! Jesus was the only One to think His heavenly Father's thoughts at all times, and the only One who walked in His Father's ways continuously. And He is the only one to give of Himself freely to satisfy you!

Jesus was the only "righteous" One under God's Law. He is the Holy One of Israel, where no others could be found. He strove to accomplish your salvation, and His work-ethic paid off at the cross. He earned the eternal life this covenant expected. But that's when Jesus does the most unexpected thing. He invites undeserving riff-raff like you to His heavenly banquet. You aren't righteous and you know it, but Jesus gives you the holy white robe of His Own righteousness to clothe you for the feast!

Yet Jesus has lost His wedding clothes. His righteousness is gone, in exchange for the unholy garment of your sin, in the form of a scarlet robe and crown of thorns He wore as your Savior. Jesus is driven from the feast, forsaken by His Father, and cast out into the outer darkness of hell in your place at the cross. Yet He feeds you at that feast with the food which satisfies–His body given ad blood shed for your forgiveness. For you, it is without cost...but for Him...well, it cost Him everything! Amen.

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