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A Feast for All: Even You

Isaiah 25:6–9

February 26, 2006

Introduction: Today we face a reality of human existence that saddens us and sometimes even makes us wonder about God. We see the miserable state of human existence in so many places and ways. As we see it all around, we are tempted to agree with Ernest Hemingway’s comment, “blackness, ten times black.” Hemingway describes the darkness He saw in untold suffering, war, and ongoing pain. There seemed to be no way out. Yet in Isaiah 25, we read of a victory feast which even now takes place amidst the darkness of this world. Why? Christ is risen! And because He lives never to die again …

Darkness is swallowed up by light

Death is swallowed up in victory!

          That’s really surprising considering that we are here because of death. How can we say there is light and victory?

1)     The feast is a surprise …

a)     Primarily because the people who first heard this message from Isaiah were “All like sheep gone astray.” We don’t like to think of ourselves in that way, I know. But isn’t it true that each of us is guilty of the same kind of idolatrous gluttony that Isaiah condemns elsewhere? Is it not true that each of us has said in our heart and by our actions, “I will choose when to put God first and honor and worship his name. I will be my own authority in life and will relate to my neighbor as best suits me.” Looking at the previous chapter Isaiah makes what we all deserve all too clear—God’s curse (24:6).

b)     So, God’s love and forgiveness come unexpectedly. Just when we are spiritually starving and not deserving of even the smallest crumb, God prepares a table before us in the presence of our final enemy, death (Ps 23:5). Participating in that feast we too can say with the Psalmist: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Your rod and staff comfort me. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.”

2)     Surprising also is that The feast begins with God’s “eating.”

a)     What I mean is this: God literally swallows up death forever. How? By His perfect life, lived for us; by His willingness to become sin for us, in our place; by His death on the cross to remove God’s curse on sin from us; and by His resurrection which guarantees God’s good favor toward us. In this way God “eats” the shroud of death that covers humanity. That’s what God’s love does.

Illustration: I’m sure Mildred was a loving mother and grandmother. There are probably many memories that you have that speak to her love for all of you. But human love, as noble as it may be, cannot conquer death. It cannot give us the hope of seeing a loved one again. The only thing that can provide victory over sin and death is Christ. That love of God never fails. And there is still more.

b)     God also takes away our tears and rebuke. Death brings with it all sorts of pain and anguish. Having to say farewell to a loved one, like Mildred, is never easy, no matter when it comes. But, did you know that in His good Creation God intended life, not death, for all mankind. Because of all God has done for us in the person and work of His own Son Jesus Christ, the farewell of death is not forever. In Christ Jesus, that is through faith in His name, we have life and the realization that when anyone in Christ passes from this life, they enter into the eternal promise of life with Christ.

So, how can we be sure that we have entered into that life, now? Here is what the Bible says: Baptism is the bestowal of a mystical union into Christ’s death and Resurrection. So, being united with Christ while still in this life we begin to live a new life that has residence in future glory. St. Paul says it this way in (Gal 3:27). 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Thus, when a believer, like Mildred, passes through the portal of death, their place of residence in heaven becomes complete. God’s Word and Spirit confirm it. This is the Word of Christ, we trust. He is the way and the truth and the life. We can count on it.

3)     And when we do, we also eat—not death, but life.

a)     Let me explain how. The feast of the new kingdom prepared for us and brought about by Christ’s death and Resurrection, is given to us now in a special way. We actually have a foretaste of this living feast right here on earth. We call it the Lord’s Supper. Christ calls it His Body and Blood. Participating as members of His mystical body, all that we have—sin and sorrow and death all around, becomes His. And all that is His—perfect righteousness, peace, life, and a place with God, becomes ours. Mildred lived through nearly 99 years of life blessed by the reality that is in Christ Jesus.

b)     Yes, her faith needed to be strengthened, just as ours does. She was not a perfect human being in God’s sight any more than you or I am perfect in His sight. But what she came to possess way back in 1907 in her baptism into Christ is the light and life of Christ. The same promise of God comes the same way, even now, a mere century of time since Mildred was born. Through the means of the written Word and Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, God pushes back the darkness of sin and death. It’s as if He takes each one like Mildred into His strong yet gentle embrace and says to evil, “This one is my chosen child. The Darkness of death can no longer have her.” That embrace is given to strengthen us in faith and hope and love, just as it was given to Mildred. That means, we can look forward to life even though death is all around. Amen.

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