Christ Lutheran Church
July 31, 2022
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Rest Eat Drink Be Merry
The land of a certain rich man produced plentifully and so he said to himself, 'What am I going to do? I have no where to store my produce.' Then he said, 'Here is what I will do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones where I will store my grain and all my goods! And I will say to my self: Soul! You have a great many goods stored up for yourself enough for years to come. Rest! Eat! Drink! Be merry!' (Luke 12:16-19)
Rest, eat, drink and be merry! That is the counsel that both King Solomon and “The Rich Fool” dispense to us today, and there is none better. None better if we properly understand what those words mean.
Part of the scourge of sin was God’s sentence on the man to a life of hard labor. Once sin entered the world through Adam, and death by sin, (Rom. 5:12) long gone were the days of rest. Long past the days of ease when man was happily engaged in God’s Good Work, when God supplied all he needed, so that he could rest in God, with never the need to engage in menial labor.
But now things were different!
Now man was at odds with the once-friendly planet and had to exact whatever he needed by way of food to sustain him, and shelter and clothing to shield him from the elements, if he prized his life at all.
Adam well knew what people today seem to have forgotten. That the planet is not your friend. But that she is a “mommy dearest” who gives up nothing of her own will; but all must be extracted by arduous labor from which we can never rest.
And so rest is not “in the cards” for the sons of men – nonetheless people want to be free of the curse and dream of how they can sit back, kick up their feet, and live a sumptuous life; and do nothing except eat, drink and make merry day and night.
When a person steals or defrauds another out his money, goods or services he is attempting to rest, while living off the curse, the labor of another person.
The biggest offender in this vein is government with its promise of “free money” which is another way of saying: the curse of labor is over, we have supplanted God and now you can rest, eat, drink and be merry.
But it is not only government! It is individuals as well! Not just the famously wealthy ones, but people of all economic strata whose affections are set on the things below, and not the things above where Christ is, at God’s right hand.
Where are your affections? Above or below?
And what will you do when your soul is required of you? “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can take nothing out,” (1 Tim. 6:17), which is why you will never see a Brinks truck in a funeral procession.
And so rest taken to avoid the curse of labor that God imposes on the sons of men is bad. But rest is also a good thing when you trust in God to give it.
Rest is a good thing when you rest from sin. That is rest indeed. Because as long as eating, drinking and making merry serves as our north star we live under God’s judgment committing one spiritual crime after another and this takes its toll on us.
It clogs us up, breaks us down and makes us weary, old, sick, tired and cynical.
It robs us of our youth, our innocence and the true joys found at God’s right hand, and drives us on like a cruel master from one vain thrill to the next until we cry out with Solomon:
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!”
“Useless, useless, all is useless.”
“Meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless.”
But it is not only you. As long as there are sinners on earth we can never rest. We can never stop looking over our shoulder at the mall, at school or at the 4th of July parade. We can never stop guarding our passwords, locking our doors, setting the alarm and keeping our ammo dry. Yes, sin makes us tired and weary and looking for rest wherever we might find it.
And rest is a good thing when in holy baptism you are “transferred out of the domain of darkness and brought into the kingdom of his own dear Son in whom we have redemption, the remission of sins.” Those we ourselves have perpetrated, and those perpetrated against us.
Rest is a good thing when it is the rest you find here; at the altar of God Most High, where even the sparrows find shelter and the swallow a nest where she can lay her young. (Ps. 84:3)
Rest is a good thing when it is Christ’s rest. When you answer Jesus’ call “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Mt. 11:28ff)
This is the true “altar call” in which Jesus calls you approach the mercy seat with joy and reverence where you can rightly eat, drink and be merry as you are united with the Lord’s own glorified Flesh and Blood under the forms of Bread and Wine.
This is abiding rest that never leaves you nor forsakes you. (Heb. 13:5)
It is the “goodness and mercy” of Psalm 23 that follows you all the days of your life, until the day comes when we will “dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
For as often as we eat and drink THIS BREAD and drink THIS CUP we can be nothing but merry! Nothing but light of heart. Nothing but filled with heavenly peace.
And rest is a good thing when it is the rest of holy, humble and quiet living; and when Christ who is your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.