Tuesday, August 12, 2014

“You Prepare A Table!” (Psalm 23:5a)

S-1445 9SAP/3A 8/10/2014 Hymns: (O) #740; (S) #623; LS. #622; 623; 618; (C) #775 LSB

Texts: Job 38:4-18; Romans 10:5-17; Matthew 14:22-33

Theme: “You Prepare A Table!” (Psalm 23:5a)

Question: “What’s the most beautiful meal you have ever had?” 6th in sermon series on Psalm 23

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the 23 Psalm: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;” (Psalm 23:5a)

Precious little lambs let me ask you a question: What is the greatest meal you ever had? And where did you eat? I am sure you can fondly remember many meals that you have enjoyed. I remember in 2001 as we traveled to the National Youth Gathering in New Orleans our first hotel was a terrible one. But then we moved to the Ritz Carlton hotel. This hotel provided us with the most elegant breakfast I have ever seen—3 large rooms with tables loaded with food. The biggest challenge was what to put on your plate. It was very delicious and enjoyable and that meal carried us all the way to the supper hour. The youth and their counselors were very happy.

But that feast was nothing compared to what they prepared for King Solomon and his court. According to Scripture here is what he had: “Solomon’s food supply for one day was 180 bushels of flour, 360 bushels of coarse flour, 10 fattened cows, 20 cows from the pasture, and 100 sheep in addition to deer, gazelles, fallow deer, and fattened birds.” (1 Kings 4:22-23 GW). Now that is a spread to be sure.

However, when you and I go out to eat, we pay for the meal and we have servants who cater to our needs. Likewise with King Solomon, he didn’t have to cook, kill the fattened oxen or serve others; his servants did it all.

But notice how David tells us of the Faithful Shepherd’s care for His sheep: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” It is not that He only prepares a table, but He prepares it before my enemies. And the table He prepares is the greatest table we will ever feast upon. PAUSE.

In the book of Isaiah we read these words: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined” (25:6). Notice who the host is and who the servant is—it is Yahweh the Lord, the Good and Faithful Shepherd. He Himself will prepare it on the mountain for all peoples. There are no exclusions. This meal is offered to all who in faith believe that the Savior, the Suffering Servant, and the heaven-sent Ambassador is giving us what we can’t prepare or have—His gracious GIFT. And what a meal it is.

With vivid colors Isaiah describes this feast, where the rarest wine is uncorked and the finest meat carved. This is God’s activity and doing. And His table is groaning from the weight of the best of foods. And He bids us come to His table and dine with Him, which is by far better than dining at the Ritz Carlton hotel in New Orleans; and much better than with King Solomon. We get to dine with the King of kings and Lord of lords—the Faithful and Good Shepherd Jesus.

David, understood that well when he said: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” He is not only preparing a table for me…but in the presence of enemies. The enemies of David were Saul and the Philistines, and yet God took care of David, fed and nourished him. PAUSE.

But there are others who needed that invitation to come to the table. Peter is one who needed to hear that personally. Remember the night Peter denied His Lord 3 times saying, “I don’t know the man!” (Mt. 26:69-75). Then he went out and wept. Not just sobbing but wailing. He had denied His Lord and Savior. His sin waited heavy upon Him. His heart was crushed and His conscience troubled and so he went to drown his sorrow by doing what he did before—fishing.

But Jesus didn’t let this situation destroy the disciple who one day would be His mouth-piece and take the message of the Resurrected Lord to Jews and Gentiles alike. No, the caring and loving Good Shepherd invited the one who denied Him to come and eat with Him at His table—and the table was prepared before the enemy—Satan. There on the shore of the Sea of Galilee the Shepherd fed Peter knowing full well that Satan can see everything; and that Christ didn’t cast him out. Instead Jesus forgave Him His sins and welcomed him back to the fold.

Jesus is like that you know. He IS the faithful Shepherd who cares for the sheep does so much to help us in spite of the fact that the enemy wants to destroy us as it did Peter. As Jesus reminded Peter saying, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). Oh, the comfort in these words not only to Peter but to us.

How often have we like Peter, David and many others denied Him, cursed Him, abandoned Him and forsook Him? How often have we said, “We will not do that Lord,” yet, we end up doing exactly what we said we wouldn’t? How often we have neglected His Word, abstained from His presence and avoided His table? How often have we lived like enemies of the Lord! PAUSE.

Children of God, today, if you are sobbing over your sin, if you are burdened, if your conscience is troubled and if your heart is heavy over what you have and haven’t done, then hear these words: The Victor over hell and the ruler of heaven, the destroyer of death and the champion of our salvation invites you to come and dine with Him in the presence of your enemies.

Yes, listen closely to these words and know that Jesus means it: He bids you come to His table the one He is preparing for you so that your enemy may know He holds no grudges against you, but loves you to the end. This is the love that caused Him to pay the deepest and heaviest price for this table—His life’s blood spilled on the cross of Calvary.

Don’t dismiss this thought quickly about His death. He will prepare this meal on the Mountain of the Lord and at a high price. Look at the Lord as He hung dead on the cross. “All who see Me mock Me.” It is our custom to dress up the crucifixion of our Lord. His dead Body is my life. His Blood is my blood. And He gives His holiness for my wretchedness.

We were not there to see the crucifixion of Jesus, but we are seeing it now on TV and the internet as many Christians are being crucified for the sake of Christ. Perhaps, the most disturbing thing about these crucifixions is that these men are men just like us, and I can hardly believe that any other human is capable of carrying out such a hideous act like these murderous Muslims! But there it is. The photos do not lie. The reports do not err. Crucified! Crucified…on a tree.

Just remember this is the most expensive meal you will eat. It is not in a ritzy restaurant or hotel, but on a messy, bloody, and filthy cross—the cross of Christ. And that is okay. Our Lord died the bloodiest, cruelest, and meanest death. Could it be any more vulgar? There He is, dead on the tree, and the image is horrifying. For what? So that He can prepare a table for me—the SINNER, before my enemies.

Precious little lambs, as the beacon of Lady Liberty has welcomed millions to this great nation of ours and live in its freedom; on a far greater scale Jesus, the earner of our salvation and the champion of our freedom invites and welcomes not only millions but ALL peoples to come to Him and receive from His pierced hands the Feast of love and to dine with Him and rejoice in the freedom He offers from sin’s curse and death’s hold.

Today, hear David the shepherd, as He portrays the love of God—His Shepherd who prepares a magnificent table for him and us. The Good Shepherd, Jesus, invites you today to be fed richly through the Word you hear and through His Holy Supper. The gracious Lord, the Great and Good Shepherd, this day is both host and guest. His body, His blood given for YOU. This is the feast of victory! And it is for you!

Therefore, I say to you, come for the table is ready—the table of love—for you the sinner. Come and eat the table He has prepared for you in the presence of your enemies. Amen.

Now the peace…


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