August 2, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Christ Lutheran Church
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
“Ho! All who thirst, come to the waters, and whoever who has no money come, buy and eat! Come! Buy without money and without price, wine and milk. Why do you spend your money on that which is not bread? And why do you labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen! Listen to me! and eat what is good and delight your soul with rich foods! Incline your ear and come to me. Hear! that your soul may live; and I will make a never ending covenant with you: my steadfast, sure love for David.” (Isaiah 55:1-3)
In today’s gospel, and in today’s live gathering at Christ Lutheran Church in Cleveland Ohio, Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled.
The people then ate the finest food that fully satisfied them, for it passed through the hands of Jesus. And today we also will eat and be satisfied in a way that no other food can gratify, and we do so at no cost.
No cost to us, at least, but it cost Jesus dearly.
But it is a price he gladly paid just as we heard in last week’s gospel about the pearl merchant in search of fine pearls, who, when he finds that one, priceless pearl, immediately sells all that he has in order to buy it – so that the pearl might become his own possession. You are that pearl.
Yes, Jesus is the Merchant, you are the precious Pearl he fondles and forms in his own miraculous hands making you fully human again. For, you see, the devil, culture, and the sins of the flesh, all conspire to de-humanize us!
To transmogrify us.
But in Christ God “conforms us to the image of the Son” as we heard in last week’s epistle, and there is nothing more beautiful than that!
Yes, today the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled in the church, even as it was before the eyes of the 5,000 men who were gathered with Jesus that day, along with their wives and children.
They all ate from 5 loaves and 2 fish and were fully sated, and today we will do the same.
Not bread and fish now, but bread blessed with the Word of God and Prayer that will render it into just what Jesus promises: his Body given for our sins.
And we will drink wine which, also when offered with Prayer and the Lord’s mighty word of institution, will be just what Jesus says: his Blood. This is the rich fare, and fine wine, that Isaiah saw with his eagle eye 2,700 years ago.
And so to ask Isaiah’s question, “Why do you work for that which is not food? And spend your money for that which does not satisfy?” By this question Sacred Scripture invites us to come to Jesus! To repent of our sins! To forgive our enemies! And to wash ourselves clean, our mouths and our hands and our eyes, and our minds, in the blood of the lamb, from the sin that so easily besets us, and readily delights us.
Yes! Come! Eat! Drink! Without money and without cost.
But what does that mean, “without cost”?
Money represents labor, though sometimes we may forget that living in a socialist country as we do. But what God gives cannot be purchased. You do not have enough money, or labor, or righteousness, or noble thoughts or moral high ground to purchase anything under the Kingship of God.
But don’t put your wallets away just yet. Because, though, nothing here is for sale it is your Christian duty, privilege and an act of high worship to support the church – even though it is not God’s favor we are buying.
Yes, today Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in your presence! Even as it was among the people in today’s gospel lesson; and this is important!
For, you see, we do not read the gospels simply to satisfy our curiosity of what happened “back in the day.” Nor are the gospels biographies of Jesus, or news reports about former events. But they are written so that we might celebrate them live, today, even as God’s people did then.
Today’s gospel might rightly be called: The Liturgy of the Feeding Of the 5,000; and it is given to us to celebrate, as we said, live, here, today: not over the internet! That is impossible.
But instead, before our own eyes, and in our ears, for Jesus is now present among us. Present in the “called and ordained servant of the word”. And today we will do the same actions as Jesus did then.
At the offertory we offer our “loaves and fish” to Jesus in the form of currency, it is an act of faith, hope and love. And with those offerings the church procures bread and wine, which is brought to the altar from the credence table as the offering is being gathered. That is no accident, but a planned move.
In a former day ushers did not go out, but the people came forward and brought their gifts: bread and wine, and other oblations to the altar and laid them at the feet of Jesus. But today we do it this way.
And what starts out as bread and wine, when put into the hands of Jesus, is likewise returned to us multiplied!
Not in quantity!
Not in quantity, but in quality, Selah!
Because what starts as bread and wine is given back to us as our Lord’s very Body and Blood that remits our sins, and fills us with the perfect health and rest of heaven.
How does this happen? Just as it did then. Christ among us, in the person of his minister, takes the elements into his hands, looks up to heaven from which “every good and perfect gift comes” and blesses them with prayer and the words of institution!
Then he breaks and distributes it to Christ’s people – the self-donation of God!
And by it we are satisfied, fully sated, fed by the bread of heaven “till we want no more”. Our empty cups now running over with the remission of sins, life and salvation to uphold us each day of our pilgrimage, and give us everlasting life.
Though the whole earth and every opinion and every institution in it is desolate, a desert, that is hostile to the New Life we obtain in baptism, there is no desert or desolation when Jesus is present. When he feeds us with his own flesh and blood. When he shines his Light upon on us, promises to answer every prayer, and see to every need.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.