Join Grace for worship
Worship Theme: The Church is composed of those who believe the Gospel
Sermon Theme: You Have a Seat at the Glorious Feast
The potato dish is so deliciously cheesy that a line of melted cheese follows the serving spoon all the way from the dish to your plate. The corn, carrots and cauliflower medley looks good on its own, but then the pad of butter begins melting its salty goodness to every piece. Sweet honey-glazed ham and slice of juicy delicious turkey. The steam rises up from the stuffing, the kind with the raisins to add that delightfully sweet taste. The napkin is lifted off of the freshly baked rolls and it smells so good you could eat the whole basket. And then the plates are cleared. You feel like you couldn’t eat another bite, until that piece of warm apple pie in set in front of you, with the round scoop of vanilla ice cream melting down onto the plate. Is your mouth watering yet?
If you want to start the countdown, it’s only 46 days until the tables are set and the feast for Thanksgiving is served! But you don’t have to wait 46 days to feast. We can feast right now, on the morsels of gospel goodness that our God puts before us today. Especially though the prophet Isaiah, we can celebrate the fact that our God says to each and every one of us: “You Have a Seat at a Glorious Feast!”
Jamie was a first-born child. That means she was new at being a child, just like her father was new at being a dad. Jamie liked to play peak-a-boo with her dad. But there was one thing that she didn’t like, and she made sure that dad knew it. It was a mistake that Jamie’s dad only made once! She did not like it when that sheet was put over her head. It was dark under there and lonely and she didn’t like it. When dad got under that sheet and they both were under it, she thought it was great. She’d giggle and laugh, but she did not like being under there alone.
Isaiah uses the picture of being under a sheet in the words that are before us today. He calls it a shroud that enfolds all people and sheet that covers all nations. And this kind of sheet makes us like Jamie. It’s not a good sheet to be under. It doesn’t even matter that there is company – in fact all people are covered by the shroud, all nations are under the sheet.
The sheet is sin and all its consequences. All people are “under” sin’s curse. The far-reaching effects of Adam and Eve’s fall cover us, too. The sheet creates a separation between us and God. They cover us and leave us with no way to escape. And the harder we try to get ourselves free, the more trapped we become. None of us can keep the law of God. None of us live up to God standards of perfection! No one can give God his whole heart. No one can offer anyone truly self-less service. And we certainly can’t give God what he demands.
He’s made quite a career of acting, but Dwayne Johnson got the nickname that stays with him from his wrestling days. In fact, it’s more than just a nickname that close followers are aware of, most people wouldn’t recognize his name without it. Dwayne Johnson sounds like a guy that works in accounting! But Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? That’s the actor that many of you know and love. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had a tag line that he would use before every match. He’d ask a question and perhaps you remember what that question was: “Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?” And what did that mean? Was he planning a family style meal for the fans and the team of his opponent? Was “the Rock” baking cookies and planning to invite his opponent for a glass of milk to discuss their feelings about the match. Of course not! It meant that he was cooking up a recipe to kick the butts of his competitors! He was stirring the ingredients of wrath and pain! And he wanted his competitors to know about it!
When we consider that we are all under the sheet of sin and that, just like Israel in Isaiah’s day, we reject God and choose ourselves over him every day, we really ought to be stricken with fear. We know that God should cook up for us a bowl of wrath and give us a jug of justice to drink. For filling his nostrils with the stench of our disobedience, he ought to unleash his anger and punishment on us. That sheet should do more than cover us, it should be our undoing. Because of sin, we deserve to be wrapped in the shroud of death and sent down for an eternity in hell.
But it’s not down where we are sent, but up. To the Mountain of the Lord! And it’s not wrath that we are given to eat, but a feast!! On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines.
Even better than Thanksgiving is the feast that the Lord has prepared for us. It’s better company than even your dearest of loved ones to be able feast with the Lord Almighty and with his saints.
But how is it that undeserving sinners can have gourmet dining instead of eating our words and choking on our hypocrisy? How is it that we can eat like kings, when we deserve to drinking wrath and punishment?
Come with me to meet Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The difference between his perfect life and weakness of even his chosen followers is so obvious as they sleep in their friend’s time of great need. The mob comes at night and Judas carries out his plan to betray his innocent friend over to death. Peter tries to resist his arrest, but Jesus corrects him and says, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11).
Christ Jesus was willing to drink the cup of wrath in your place and mine. He was willing to bear our punishment and even to be forsaken by God so that we could be invited to the feast. Jesus tasted death for us, so that we could drink of his Water of Life.
But what exactly is the mountain of the Lord? What exactly is Isaiah’s feast? God’s people Israel would ascend the mountain in Jerusalem – Mount Zion – to meet with him in his temple. And so, the mountain of the Lord is a place where we meet with God.
What else happens on mountain of the Lord? On this mountain (God) will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.
The mountain of the Lord is the place where the sheet is removed, the barrier between us and God is gone. Disgrace is destroyed, tears and sadness are chased away. On the mountain of the Lord, God swallows up death.
Normally death does the swallowing. It’s the fate of every single sinner. It’s an inescapable truth. You can’t evade death. You’ve seen it happen and one day will be your day. The ground swallows people up – one by one. Coffins are closed and bodies lowered into holes in the ground. The hole is filled in and then it has happened again – death has swallowed another.
But on the mountain of the Lord - Death is in the casket. (God) will swallow up death forever. Jesus defeated death by subjecting himself to it for 3 short days. And then he rose and left death dead. Jesus’ resurrection shows that Death has no power over us. It couldn’t hold Jesus and it can’t hold us. That’s why Paul can say in his great Resurrection Chapter “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).
Jesus resurrection means that nothing can keep us from the mountain of the Lord. Nothing, not even death, can take us away from our God! No sorrow or pain, no enemy or attack can unseat us. Nothing can take away your invitation. You’ve been called and chosen and that means that You Have a Seat at a Glorious Feast!
So, my friends – eat up! Feast on God’s nourishing Word. Drink down the fine wine of his glory. And invite others to feast with you. Study his Word. Proclaim his truth. Share the news that sin has been forgiven and the death has been swallowed up. Bring others to Jesus that they may join in the feast with you.
Jesus’ gives us his Supper as a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. We get to feast on the best that God has to offer. We get to see and smell and taste and touch our Savior’s forgiving love. We get to have our tears wiped away and our shame removed. We get there the assurance of a renewed relationship with him and the promise of a better meal in a better place.
Heavenly Mount Zion is the place where our permanent seat is reserved. The table is set and ready for us to sit and eat. There with Jesus as Host and Friend we will dine on the most perfect and heavenly of meals. There with those we love and so many that we’ve never met, but will have an eternity to get to know – there with all who have lived for him and more importantly all for whom Jesus has lived and died and now lives on him– there we will feast forever. On the Best Mountain, with the Best Company, in the Best of our perfect bodies, we will feast on the Best of Meals because we have the Best and Only true Savior God. My friends – start today and never stop – thanking God and singing his praises that You Have a Seat at a Glorious Feast!!
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:8). Amen.
Be sure to subscribe so as to not miss future worship services, and please consider sending financial gifts to support the ministry of Grace Lutheran Church:
Online Giving: http://www.gracedowntown.org/giving/
Giving By Mail: Make checks out to "Grace Lutheran Church," and send to:
Grace Lutheran Church
ATTN: Cate Jaworski
1209 N. Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202