TEXT: Isaiah 55:1-5
GOAL: That hearers will know that the food for the soul that satisfies for eternity is ours only at the foot of the cross, for Jesus the Christ is the true feast of life.
THEME/TITLE: “The Lavish Feast”
Rev. Richard A. Bolland, BSed., MS, M Div., Pastor Our Savior
Lutheran Church, Pagosa
The feeding of the five thousand with the abundant provision of food for the masses together with the abundant quality of our salvation expressed by St. Paul in the Epistle lesson couple with the Old Testament reading to reinforce a three-fold emphasis on the incredible grace of God given us through the life, suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. The season of Pentecost, with its stress on growth in the faith, serves to help us understand that the very source of growth is that which God provides for our satisfaction, peace and service in his name.
The prophet Isaiah has in mind more than water, more than wine, more than milk, and more than bread. Clearly he is pointing beyond that which provides physical life and nourishment to that which satisfies the spirit.
A contrast is being drawn in the text between that which satisfies only momentarily and that which satisfies for eternity. Missing in the NIV translation of verse 1, is the negative of hoi or “alas”. This actually sets the tone for that which follows. It is in the “alas” we find the futility of seeking satisfaction from sources that cannot provide it. Here is water that still leaves one thirsty. Here is bread that still leaves one hungry. Here is labor that produces no lasting result. The world is caught up in seemingly endless activity that can only be described as futile with respect to finding satisfaction of the soul.
Also significant is the covenant language of karath berith. Here the “...faithful love promised to David” is connected to the concept of, “I will make an everlasting covenant with you.” This invitation to Israel is limited in its scope to hearing, coming and taking. This is not at all in a synergistic sense as is made clear by the “no money”, “without money” and “without cost” whose three-fold emphasis should be clear enough. God’s mercy will be the agent which establishes and keeps the everlasting covenant. The discussion of David and the Davidic Covenant connects God’s graciousness of the past and looks forward to the future expressions of God’s grace through the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant through the kingdom that will be eternal.
Since (the remnant) Israel is to be joined with God in a new covenant, the sufficiency of God’s provision is a reflection of God’s nature. Since God is without limits, it also follows that this too will be the nature of the blessings He brings. Therefore, God’s mercy through the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant, (i.e., the birth of the seed of David, the Messiah), will also be limitless or superabundant. As it is in the Gospel’s feeding and St. Paul’s unshakable salvation, so in this text the nature of God’s mercy is also superabundant. Grace is given which overwhelms our sins, not merely covers them.
Everyone loves a banquet! Wedding banquets, White House Banquets, family Baptismal
Banquets, Holiday feasts and, of course, that most exquisite banquet of all a Lutheran potluck supper! We enjoy dining at fine restaurants and at Mom and Pop cafes that fill us with good tasting food until we are barely able to walk. Then, we make a discovery. In only a few hours we are hungry again! What’s wrong with this picture? We insist that we will never eat again only to find our stomach’s growling and pictures of food on TV driving us to the refrigerator. Oh for food that will not fade! Oh for satisfaction that will last! How much would you pay for such satisfaction as that? How much would we spend on a permanent meal?
Our spiritual hunger drives us as well. In this world one religion after another claims to have spiritual fulfillment available for us. How much would such permanent spiritual satisfaction be worth to us? Do you have your checkbooks out and pens ready? Well, put them away, my friends! In our Old Testament lesson we are told that we will never find such food for the soul anywhere other than before our Heavenly Father’s throne of grace. And the cost? For you and me it is the bargain of a lifetime, for it costs us nothing at all, and yet the cost was more than we can imagine. The price of eternal spiritual satisfaction is the lifeblood of God’s own Promised One, Jesus Christ.
WE OFTEN SEEK SPIRITUAL SATISFACTION FROM PLACES OF SPIRITUAL BARRENNESS.
We seek a filling of our souls from sources that cannot possibly satisfy us.
How often have we listened to the sweet siren song of the world that tells us to seek power and control over others and we shall be satisfied.
ILLUS: At the beginning of a new presidential administration over 6,000 positions need to be appointed. What a mad scramble for power and control! Major campaigns are mounted to secure some of these positions.
So many venues of power in life, so little time!
Hearing the temptation of the world’s view, we want to have control in our places of employment, in our homes, over our spouses, over the kids, over our finances...all in the vain hope that once we control all these areas, then we shall be satisfied with life!
Other want to seek satisfaction through sexual fulfillment.
The movies we watch, the magazines we read, the television shows we view all tell us that here is satisfaction!
The naturally occurring consequences of such behavior are rarely, if ever, shown.
Never is the question addressed: “How much is enough?”, because there is never enough and satisfaction remains illusive.
We seek a filling of our souls from sources that cannot deal with our sin.
Worldly solutions to find a satisfaction with our continual failures in life do not offer satisfaction either.
We are told: “Just behave better.” but try as we might, we keep repeating the same stupid people tricks or inventing new ones.
St. Paul had the same problem. (Rom 7:15-20)
Then some tell us that our problem with our failures is that we just need to change our definition of bad behavior.
“Just forget that Victorian morality, it’s outdated!”
“The bible isn’t relevant for our day and age, we’ve got to change with the times!”
But a strange things keeps happening, our sins continue to reap negative consequences whether we think of them as sins or not!
As St. Paul tells us: (Rom 3:19-20)
We are not at peace because we are at odds with the One who made us!
The single most basic relationship in this life is that between our Creator and that of His creatures.
Sadly, our human natures have produced human behaviors which are diametrically opposed to the will of God, and unless and until we are at peace with Him, we will have no peace and no satisfaction that lasts.
So what are we to do? To what source are we to go to find rest for our souls and peace with God and ourselves?
THE ONLY SOURCE OF SATISFACTION AND PEACE COMES FROM THE LAVISH FEAST WHICH OUR CREATOR HAS PREPARED FOR US THROUGH CHRIST JESUS, OUR LORD.
What is this feast whose filling will not fade?
ILLUS: Eating Chinese food is an exercise in futility! Eat all you want and within 90 minutes you’ll be raiding the refrigerator again! This is what the world attempts to do, to be satisfied with that which will not, under any circumstances last!
In stark contrast hear the words of our text: (Is 55:1-2)
Did you hear those words?
“...no money...without money...without cost.”
What is being offered is a smorgasbord of God’s grace, not man’s effort!
What man cannot and will not accomplish, God has completed!
We desperately and vainly try to fulfill the Law, but we always fail.
Where man has failed, God has succeeded!
In loving compassion, the Father sent his promised Son of David, Jesus Christ,
who alone was able to keep all the requirements of God’s perfect Law. (Rom 5:18-19)
The complete impossibility of man’s perfect obedience is accomplished by Jesus Christ!
The righteousness we could not achieve, is a gift from Jesus to us!
Yet, there is still a problem: We have an outstanding debt of sin.
Again the lavish feast of God’s grace solves our dilemma of debt.
In the suffering and death of our Lord, a lavish payment is made on our behalf. (I Pet 1:18-19)
The feast that God has provided through His Son is not merely adequate to satisfy, but is lavish beyond our imagining! (Jn 6:32-35)(Mt 14:20-21)
He lavishly grants us all the blessings of Christ at our baptism.
Full forgiveness of all our sins.
The gift of the Holy Spirit.
The gift of faith.
He lavishly nourishes our faith through his Word and the Lord’s Supper.
Through the spoken Word faith is strengthened for the trials of life and the assurance of our salvation.
Through the Lord’s Supper we receive within our bodies the very purchase price paid for our sins – his very body and blood, grace upon grace!
Yet another lavish gift is given: Through the power of the Holy Spirit in these means of grace, we are equipped to live lives of witness so that others too may know the satisfaction and peace of Christ Jesus!
By these gifts we receive peace that will not perish, but will satisfy for all eternity!
At what kind of spiritual “restaurant” have you been dining? Have you come away still hungry for the peace that passes all understanding and settled for the spiritual equivalent of Chinese food? Then hear well the words of the prophet Isaiah for his invitation is for you. (Is 55:1-3) In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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