Pastor Hopkins preached this sermon on the second Sunday after Trinity 6/21/2020. The service was broadcast live on Facebook at 11am, and is now available on the FLC youtube channel. To follow along from home, the bulletin is available as a PDF: Trinity2 Bulletin
The texts for the sermon were the day’s lessons. To read the Bible texts for the second Sunday after Trinity, click here.
It’s summer in Boston. It’s a beautiful day and everyone is out. And why shouldn’t they be? A better day for a stroll hasn’t been seen in months.
You and yours meander through the Gardens and the Common, past Beacon Hill and MGH, wandering toward the North End, where you happen to be joined by a couple thousand of your closest friends.
Every patio is full, and every seat is taken. The best you can hope for is to grab a slice of pizza and eat it on the curb. As I said: it’s summer in Boston.
All of a sudden, a man approaches you and some others who are nearby. “Are you hungry?” the man asks. “Would you like a table? I can get you the best table in town. There’s a full buffet with the freshest seafood in the city, the thickest steaks in Massachusetts, and the best pasta and salad anywhere. There is also an open bar. One more thing: in celebration of this special day, it’s free. We are happy to seat you on the rooftop patio right now.”
I ask you: Do you go with him? Your answer likely depends on whether you think the offer is credible.
If the man is obviously the owner of a fine restaurant; if he dresses and speaks like John Lindemann, and has some expensive looking menus in his hand, then I don’t need to wonder what you’re going to do. You’re going up to that patio, and you’re going to eat so much that he will never make this offer to anyone again.
But what if he doesn’t appear to be from a fine restaurant? What if he doesn’t dress and speak like John? What if he is wearing torn jeans and a dirty shirt? What if he kind of smells? What if you just saw him hanging out with a really sick looking guy in the alley? What then? You need to imagine the same invitation coming from his lips.
“You want a table? I’ll get you the best one in town. Best food. Best drink. All free. Just follow me.”
The guy next to you says, “Looks like rain. Better not chance the rooftop seating.” Another one in the group points to his wife and says, “Sorry. I would, but she hates free dinners that we don’t have to cook or clean up after.”
As before, I don’t need you to tell me what you’re going to do. “Apologies,” you’ll say “but we have a reservation at Neptune Oyster in five minutes.” (No, you do not.) You’re going to walk up and down Hanover St. for the next 3 hours, waiting for a table to open up, while hoping not to run into that guy again.
Jesus tells this parable in condemnation of the Pharisees with whom He is dining. They are those who have been invited. And, truth be told, they would be happy to enjoy a feast of that measure. They might even be comfortable with the idea of it being free.
The idea of a great feast is enough to make one of them begin to preach to Jesus, saying:
Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God. verse 15
Yes, indeed. But they do not see that the Kingdom of God has come near to them. And so they reject the invitation.
Jesus is the Servant who is sent to bring those who were invited into the feast. Jesus is the Servant who gathers them to eat Bread in the Kingdom of God. Jesus is the Servant they are actively rejecting, because Jesus is not compelling to them.
He is not dressed like the Messiah they imagined. He speaks plainly and drastically, without the slightest hint of a sales pitch. He is poor and dirty, and has been associated with diseased street people and prostitutes. Anyways, they have a reservation at Neptune in five minutes.
Go out quickly to the streets and the lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame…
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. verses 21, 23-24
So now that man with the too-good-to-be-true offer departs. He goes through all the side streets and alleys; he finds the people looking for food in dumpsters; who spend the day staggering around Copley Square. He compels them to come eat, and they are not too noble to turn him down.
Thus, Luther wrote in a Church Postil in 1535:
According to this passage all that are wise, holy, rich and powerful, God has rejected, because they will not accept His Gospel; and the foolish, simple, and the most insignificant little lights, as Peter, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew and the like, who were poor fisherman and needy beggars, whom He here calls the poor, the maimed, the lame and blind, are chosen, whom no one would have considered worthy to be servants of the priests and princes of the people.
The Christ, whom the Pharisees rejected, has come to you.
He came and preached peace to you who were for off and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… verses 17-19
Jesus has sought you and found you. By His Spirit, He has called, gathered, and enlightened you. He has baptized you into His Name and into His Kingdom. He has proclaimed His Gospel to you, that by His own death and resurrection for you, you have peace with God, a place at His table and in His house. And here, now He feeds you with a taste of the Feast to come, in the Holy Supper of His Body and Blood.
Jesus did not look impressive to anyone. I don’t either. Neither is anyone convinced by plain reason that bread and wine are more than bread and wine.
But blessed are you. And blessed is everyone who will eat Bread in the Kingdom of God.