Saturday, July 30, 2005

Final Sermon for Vicarage! Isaiah 55:1-3a

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. The sermon text is Isaiah 55:1-3a,

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.

I’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t go shopping for groceries when you are hungry. According to some people, if you shop while you’re hungry, you are much more likely to buy more junk food or unhealthy food choices. Or you end up buying more than you need. I don’t really know if this advice is generally true, but I know that when I shop hungry I do tend to buy more snack food. Regardless of how true this advice is, here in today’s Word to us from Isaiah and also in the Gospel reading, we hear Christ calling the hungry to Him for food. In fact when God issues this call for us to come, He expects that those He calls are more than just hungry.

The Words of His invitation describe our condition. “Come, all you who are thirsty…” We are thirsty, but not just for physical water, which only satisfies for a short time, and then we are thirsty again (John 4:13). Rather, we are thirsty for a ‘living water’ that if we drink of it we’ll never thirst! (John 4:14). This living water that eternally satisfies our thirst is Jesus Christ. Without Him, our souls are parched and dry and thirsty. Without the living water of Jesus Christ, we choke on the dry dust of our sin, as we labor in this life for water that doesn’t satisfy. For on our own we are in a desert of sin, lost with only mirages of water always just beyond our grasp.

“You who have no money” further describes our condition. Not only are we hungry and thirsty, but we have no money to buy food! But are we talking about physical food and physical hunger again? No! The food we hunger for and that God offers is food that will delight our soul. But without money, we are no better than beggars, unable to ‘shop’ for our sustenance. Martin Luther expressed this truth a few days before his death, in the last words he ever wrote: “We are beggars, this is true.” Truly, we are beggars, with no spiritual goods or merits to offer God to purchase the spiritual food we so desperately need. We can spend our life toiling away after what does not satisfy, laboring for earthly food, for earthly pleasure—but it never satisfies. The void of physical hunger can only be temporarily filled, and then we hunger again. But the void of spiritual hunger can’t be filled by any earthly bread. And we don’t have money to buy the bread that can. And we can’t labor enough to earn the bread that satisfies our spiritual hunger. We are spiritually destitute in our sinfulness, without the means to help ourselves. No amount of good works will enable us to ‘pull ourselves up by our bootstraps’ or give us greater ‘purchasing power.’ Instead, we must come as beggars, humbly holding out our hands to be fed at someone else’s cost; by someone else’s labor.

And we all know the hungry, thirsty, tired and poor aren’t far from death if their needs aren’t met. Their life hangs in the balance until someone delivers them. And such are we. Spiritually we are like the crowds of people in today’s Gospel lesson—the feeding of the five thousand. We are sick, hungry, and thirsty. So where did the disciples want to send the crowds to be fed? Away from Jesus! The disciples said, “Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” But Jesus doesn’t send the people away, He feeds them right there by a miracle! And Jesus doesn’t send us away when we come like beggars to Him for food. For He alone is the ‘food that endures to eternal life’ (John 6:27). He is the bread of life. And He knows that He can’t send us away to be fed—we have no money to buy food!

So in the book of Isaiah He issues us the most remarkable call! “Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, buy and eat!” How can we buy and eat without money? Because He charges nothing! The words ‘buy and eat’ in verse 1 become ‘listen and eat’ in verse 2. “Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” Apparently God isn’t too concerned about us shopping hungry! He’s not worried about us ending up with ‘junk-food’, because when we ‘buy’ food by ‘listening’ to Him, we ‘eat what is good.’ When we hear God’s Word, the good news about Jesus’ death on the cross, we are fed what is good. Our hungry soul is fed with the richest of fare, truly a meal to delight our soul! For God calls us to “Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.”

Hear and live. We all come here today as spiritual beggars, whether we knew it or not. And whether we knew it or not we were born into sin, which left us spiritually thirsty, hungry, and destitute. Yet Christ calls us to hear and live! Hear what? His Word. Hear what Jesus said after He fed the 5,000: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Jesus told them and us that His flesh is the food they need, because the bread that He was going to give for the life of the world was His flesh. When Jesus went to the cross, His flesh was given up to death for the life of the world. He was nailed to a tree and killed, so that we could live. His death prepared a banquet of life for us! God is calling all beggars to come to His table, to buy and eat without cost. He’s calling the hungry and the thirsty to hear and eat what is good, so our souls will delight in the richest of fare.

God the Father spared no expense to prepare this banquet for us sinners, as Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” God paid the ultimate price to give us eternal life, and that price was the death of His own Son Jesus Christ. So that we truly are fed at someone else’s expense, and by someone else’s labor. The expense was God’s, in sending His precious Son, and the labor was Christ’s, who by His perfect obedience and death on the cross prepared such a feast for us. And though the Father gave Jesus up to death, He did not lose Him, but got Him back when Jesus rose again from the dead. So that through Him He will also graciously give us all things. And what a banquet it is! Could a beggar ask for more? Could we have hoped for anything better? See, it’s really not so bad being a beggar when you know where the feast is, and Jesus invites you to the banquet! And so we also find other beggars in need of Jesus Christ and invite them to where the food is, when we tell people the Gospel.

We who were thirsty have been invited to come to the waters—the living water of Jesus Christ, poured out in a soul-cleansing flood in our baptism. What a blessing to see [____] washed in that soul-cleansing baptism this Sunday! A reminder of the gift of water and the Spirit poured out on each of us in our Baptism into Jesus. A life-giving stream for our thirsty souls. We who were hungry and destitute, with no money to buy the spiritual food we needed have been given wine and milk and the richest fare to delight our soul. The pure spiritual milk of God’s Word nourishes us constantly as we grow up in our salvation (1 Pt. 2:2). And the wine and bread that we gather this day to eat and drink are far more than empty symbols and physical food. No, a table is spread before you with bread and wine that are the body and blood of Jesus Christ—a holy supper to take away your sins, by the eating and drinking of Jesus’ body and blood. The richest meal we poor spiritual beggars could ask for. A holy supper where Christ is both host and feast. Truly His body and blood are a delight to our soul as they cleanse our soul of guilt and join us in Christ’s one body. Thanks be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that He has called us to hear His Word and come to Him—that by hearing Him our soul will live. For His holy food truly satisfies—because through it we will endure to eternal life with Him, because Jesus fills the void of our spiritual hunger. Amen.

Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.


The Terrible Swede said...

Are you going to stick around after your vicarage? Or are you going to close your blog? I hope not.

Webcritter said...

Swede, he'd better. We know where he goes to school! ;-)

- Webcritter

Josh Schneider said...

Thanks Swede and Web,
No, I don't plan to roll up the blog just yet. I will try to continue posting occasionally, though it will undoubtedly slow down quite a bit, maybe just a few posts per month. I may post an occasional sermon if I preach pulpit supply and some theological musings on occasion. We'll see how things go...I know its going to be a busy year, but thanks for your interest!

Webcritter said...

I'm delighted you are going to keep blogging!

Post stuff you do for school. We might learn something.

- Webcritter

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