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Private Confession by appointment.

Eating With Jesus

September 10, 2022 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
September 11, 2022
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost 14
Eating With Jesus

"Now the tax collectors and sinners were gathering near to Jesus to hear him and the Pharisees and the Scribes grumbled, "This deplorable fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them." (Luke 15:1)

Today this prophecy is fulfilled in your hearing! You are the sinners that Jesus welcomes, and with whom he sups, as both victim and priest.

They say never turn away sound advice regardless of its source and good advice it is because the ones preaching the true gospel to us today are those who did not believe it themselves! Those who, after having preached it to others, will in the end find themselves disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:17) – unless they, too, turn from trusting in their own righteousness, to faith in the one who: came into the world to save sinners – unless they, too, should bring holy joy to the angels of heaven by their repentance.

And just to make sure that we, ourselves, do not become Pharisees and Scribes let us remember that: If we can be saved, then so can they. If we can be rescued from sin, death and devil so can the woke-who-are-really-asleep.

For the record Christian self-righteousness is bad, very, very bad. But even worse is secular self-righteousness! And so be sure not to commune with those who are woke-but-really-asleep. Don’t recite their catechism. Don’t “like” their deadly opinions on FB. But don’t “pull the plug” on them either; because
Jesus did not pull the plug on us! But came into the world to be our true shepherd, instead.

And so let all men hear the call of Isaiah the prophet, preached by St. Paul and made famous by the most famous Lutheran of all: J.S. Bach: Wake awake for night is flying!

Yes let us all, “wake from sleep for salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:11-12)

We know from all four gospels that the Pharisees and Scribes detested Jesus. We see it again in today’s gospel when they refer to him as “this fellow” or more accurately, “this deplorable fellow.” That is what they thought of the world’s Savior, and how could they think otherwise?

St. Paul teaches us in Romans 8:7 that: the carnal mind (the Red Man) is at enmity with God, is not subject to the law of God, nor can it be!

In another place (1 Cor. 2:13ff) he says that: the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, and can only be discerned by those who possess God’s Spirit as their own: as we do by Blessed Baptism, and by continuing in the faith once delivered to the saints: even as we are doing this very morning!

So, yes, Jesus is deplorable to those who are not enlightened by Christian instruction; Sacred baptism; Divine Liturgy; Holy Prayer; the Blessed Sacrament and who do not deny themselves, do not take up their cross and do not follow Jesus as the pattern of their lives.

But to us Jesus is: our priceless treasure; our peace; our Life; our Light; our Alpha and Omega; “the same yesterday today and forever; without whom we could not carry on for “one single hour,” now that we know him, and the power of his resurrection. (Phil. 3)

But not only does Jesus welcome us poor sinners to sup with him, and he with us in the Holiest Communion of all. But to use today’s jargon he is “pro-active.” He searches for us like the shepherd searches for his lost sheep, or a woman her lost coin without which she could not live.

And according to the parable he doesn’t just do a cursory search: the kind a husband would do when his wife asks him to retrieve something for her; or a child does when his parents ask him to go get something for them.

No! Those kind of searches will never do for us. Not for us because sin makes us ashamed to show our face to God (deny it though we will). Because we cover ourselves with darkness: “blacker than a hundred midnights down in a cypress swamp.” Because our hearts are dead, and because we so love to be our own god our own life our own light – even while we are dead. And because all of the culture’s, and more than a few of the church’s, prophets are false prophets: feeding us with left-over rubbish and giving us drink from the wells that they themselves poisoned.

And so by Ezekiel the Prophet the LORD God gives all men one of the most show-stopping proclamations of the gospel in all of Scripture:

For thus says the Lord GOD:

Behold! I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.

As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep,

and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land.

And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel.

And I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.

I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep.

I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD.

I will seek the lost,

and I will bring back the strayed

I will bind up the injured,

I will strengthen the weak,

I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey.

I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.

And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them.

I am the LORD;

I have spoken.

Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing as we sup with Jesus and he with us at this altar, the Mountain Top of Israel!