"Feasting on Jesus"
Today we join our Lord Jesus as He dines at the house of a Pharisee. It’s a Sabbath Day, so we also think of remembering the Sabbath Day and gladly hearing and learning God’s Word. Jesus is trying to teach us some table manners in God’s kingdom. When God invites us to His great banquet, He wants us to feast on what He says.
One man tries to impress Jesus and says, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God.” Jesus then answers with a story. A man puts on a great banquet and invites many people. But the invited guests refuse the invitation. It seems they’re just too busy to make it to this feast. So the master invites other guests, people you would never expect to see at a grand social event. And even some of them must be compelled to come to the feast. Even though one man at the banquet table was trying to butter Jesus up, he did catch on. Jesus is talking about the Kingdom of God. “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God.”
As Christians, we are citizens of two kingdoms: the kingdom of the earth and the kingdom of heaven. In the kingdom of the earth people eat and drink, sleep and work, rest and play. Here they take care of all their physical and social needs. Here people are very glad to take part in picnics and barbecues, especially on days such as Memorial Day, Father’s Day, or Fourth of July. Sometimes they don’t even need to be invited in order to receive some food. In the kingdom of heaven the food and life are very different. Here the Lord of the Universe, the Creator of heaven and earth, throws a lavish, sumptuous meal. Here the food is far richer, far more nourishing than in the earthly kingdom. But here the invited guests are reluctant to come. It’s as if they’d rather have watery chicken noodle soup than eat the filet mignon that God carefully prepares and freely gives.
So, the Lord Jesus talks about God’s rich banquet table of heavenly food. God the Father prepares a great, rich, sumptuous banquet. He invites us poor beggars on earth to eat and drink with Him at His heavenly supper table. So the question is: How will we earth-bound beggars respond to His gracious invitation? Will we be rude and spurn His invitation? Or will we gladly feast on His divine delicacies?
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the true, spiritual banquet. Our heavenly Father is the rich man and host. He has prepared the banquet. He sent His Son to be born of the Virgin Mary, to live a perfect life, to suffer a horrible death—thus to be slaughtered and prepared by the divine Chef. And just as a good host puts juicy steaks on the barbecue grill, so did the heavenly Father. He allowed His own Son to be roasted on the cross and offered up in fiery, burning love. Yes, Jesus is our Paschal Lamb sacrificed for the sin of the whole world.
But a good host never leaves the filet mignon on the grill permanently. No, when the meat is done, he removes it from the fire and serves it up for his guests to eat and enjoy. It’s in the eating that people are refreshed, nourished, and strengthened. In the same way, our heavenly Father removed Jesus from the fiery grill of the cross, laid Him in the tomb, and raised Him from the dead. Now we and the whole world can feast on this food. Christ Jesus is the world’s true, nourishing Food of Life.
So, wherever Christians gather together, you have God’s banquet table. The preaching of the Gospel is the dish. The servers are the pastors. Jesus is the food. Through the pastor’s mouth the food is laid on the table and served. When the Gospel is preached, this food is served and offered for you. And everyone gets to feast—rich and poor, old and young, learned and unlearned. There are three essential ingredients to God’s feast: first, the dish, that is, the Word of God; second, the waiter, that is, the pastor’s mouth; and third, the guests, those who believe the message of Christ with the heart. When these three things come together, our heart and soul start to eat and say, “Here is a juicy steak. Here Christ is proclaimed. Here the food is the roasted Christ. I get to feast on Jesus. I get to find my strength and joy and comfort in Christ alone.” Whoever believes this with his heart eats and drinks Jesus.
How does this food taste? Well, a good barbecued steak has a delicious flavor. It refreshes body and soul, it satisfies the appetite, and it strengthens the body. In the same way, when you hear and believe the Gospel, you feast on Jesus. This rich, tender filet of Christ nourishes and strengthens your soul. It has the delicious taste of forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and heavenly bliss. This food gives life—life now, life for all eternity, life that only Jesus can give.
Jesus tells us about this food in John 6: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” (vv. 53-55) So whoever believes with heart and mind that Jesus Christ has given His body and shed His blood for him or her need not fear death.
So in Jesus you have pure joy, everlasting joy. He is no longer sorrowful or fainthearted. He no longer sweats great drops of blood as He did in Gethsemane. But in Him there is true joy and gladness. And this same Jesus, who is comfort and joy in the flesh, has become your food, served up in the Gospel to be eaten by faith. So when you are forsaken, cast down, oppressed, and assaulted for being Christians, you may run to Jesus. There you revive and strengthen yourselves. Since Jesus, your food, is filled with gladness, joy, and life, you too are filled with gladness, joy, and life. What a glorious banquet it is! And all you have to do is come to the banquet table of Jesus’ pulpit and altar and partake of Christ.
But here is where our Lord laments. He laments over the world’s callousness and indifference. He laments that people—even in His Church—ignore and despise this great, delicious banquet. He laments that so many—even self-proclaimed Christians—have no desire for the preaching of this Gospel, this feast of the roasted Christ. They refuse to come to God’s banquet table. And they excuse themselves with pretty flimsy excuses—real estate to see, animals to take care of or vehicles to test drive, or even family affairs.
Now these things are not evil in themselves. After all, God gives the land, the animals, the vehicles, and especially spouses and children. But Jesus laments when people refuse His banquet of forgiveness and life because they are so attached to enjoying the land, or to using the machines and the technology for work or play, or to arranging so many family activities.
We must learn to put things in proper perspective. We must learn the differences between coming to the banquet of Christ’s kingdom, on the one hand, and enjoying the land, the machines and toys, and the family, on the other. God gives the good things of land, material things, and family to enjoy. He also gives us spouses to avoid immorality. He gives us all family members to love and serve and forgive. But Jesus laments when we put these good gifts from Him over and above coming to His kingdom banquet.
Remember the Lord’s Prayer. First we pray for God’s name to be hallowed, for His kingdom to come, and for His will to be done. Only after these things do we then pray for daily bread—the things of physical and social life. When we put the things of physical and social life before the banquet of the roasted Christ, then our Lord laments. Then we deserve the wrath of God. But as Jesus says in Matthew 6(:33), “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” So our first priority in all of life is to hear and learn the Gospel—to feast on Jesus. Only with that nourishment can we truly enjoy the nourishment for stomach and social life.
You see, our loving and giving heavenly Father puts on this rich feast by giving His Son, and He truly wants us earthly guests to fill His banquet all. So, let’s not pass up this banquet. Let’s invite and bring our family members, our friends, our fellow Christians, and our neighbors to this banquet. After all, in this banquet Jesus says, “You have My righteousness, My life, My comfort, and My peace.” Amen.