09012019 12th Sunday After Pent 11AT Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and you will be blessed - Lk. 14:13-14

09012019 12th Sunday After Pent 11AT Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA
September 1, 2019
“Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and you will be blessed - Lk. 14:13-14”
Sermon Audio

A few weeks ago, while in Indianapolis for the NALC Convocation, it was very clear walking down the central part of downtown, there were many people who were in need of help.  They were sleeping on the streets or carried their meager possessions on their back. They panhandled for coins and bills in order to provide themselves simple necessities that we take for granted.  Some of them even provided music using instruments we would have either recycled or thrown in the trash. Yet what was most poignant was that these people who lived upon the street in downtown Indianapolis and even here in Pittsburgh are exactly the same people that Jesus ministers to in our Gospel this morning.  Jesus having been invited into the house of a ruler, knew he was being watched and judged by His every move and expression and in our Gospel tells three simple vignettes that strike to the core of what the people of God are called to do.  

Each expression by Jesus lays out a different opportunity for the people of God.  Healing someone is a monumental task only completable by the Son of God, but changing a person’s reality is a task that is easily attainable by anyone, even a little child.  It could mean the hug by a child, visiting the homebound, offering to drive someone to church like some in our congregation have been doing, or reaching out to someone that is alone or doesn’t have any children or relatives that live close by.  God is attempting to inspire each and everyone of us to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ and purposefully reaching out to one another the hand of friendship, care and concern so we can build relationships with one another by sharing the love of Jesus Christ in everyday life and changing their reality of self worth or importance.  We all fail at this and Jesus knows it, but calls us to try again.

In the second vignette, Jesus sees how the people who were invited by the ruler ‘chose the places of honor’.  It’s not like the assigned seating at banquets or on the bus for our younger children.  The people Jesus sees want to be seen and ‘honored’ by their presence, what they do and the places they sit.  Clearly we Lutherans don’t have that problem, if we did every front row in every Lutheran church would be full in a lot of congregations across our country.  Yet, for Jesus it is not just a matter of where one sits, but one’s heart and pride before God that Jesus is exposing. If we are ‘prideful’ of how we act, what we do, or choose the place we sit or how we treat one another, then we fall into the same trap that the guests of the ruler fell into.  Jesus solution is obvious, choose the lowest place and put away our pride so when He, the Son of God returns we will be blessed by Him.

Finally, in the last vignette and the final two verses of our reading, Jesus clearly indicates that we are to be generous, not only to our family and friends, but especially to “the poor, the crippled, the lame, [and] the blind”.  When we are generous to those who have little, God Who sees all things will give us the reward, not on earth, but in heaven where ‘moth and rust will not destroy’.  God through His Son Jesus Christ promises us, “you will be blessed, because they [those who are poor, crippled, lame and blind] cannot repay you.”

When we who are God’s children and disciples look out for others more than ourselves, we will be ‘blessed’.  The blessing we receive comes because of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind. Our blessing is God’s forgiveness of us, our redemption and Jesus Christ making full satisfaction for us and our sins.  Jesus Christ took on our worst actions, our individual and collective sin upon Himself on the Cross and forever changed the landscape for us and for all of mankind. The blessing we receive from God is because we who sin are the poor, crippled, lame and blind.  Our sin blinds us to exactly what we are doing, we are lame and unable to save ourselves, we are crippled in thought, word and deed in the world we live in and we are poor in spirit and unable to save ourselves. This is why we need Jesus Christ and His love that offers us the free grace and forgiveness we need.  We are by, through and because of Jesus satisfaction on the Cross made heirs of eternal life. No longer are we poor, because through the forgiveness God offers us, we have the richness of God’s grace. Because of Jesus spilling His blood, in heaven we no longer will be crippled, lame or blind, but given new bodies and become heirs of eternal life.

Yet, when will we receive ‘new bodies’ and ‘repayment’ for our consistent loving actions toward those Jesus speaks of to the ruler and the other guests?  Jesus final words in the Gospel reveal when this will occur. “For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”  So when we have breathed our final breath, have the proverbial shovel patted in our face, when we are on the other side of the green grass, God will repay us.  How can we take comfort in this in our present life? Our comfort should come, because we will be repaid by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus Christ in these 11 words makes each and every one of us a promise that in and for eternity, when our earthly bodies have turned to dust, God will repay us for loving those who are ‘poor, lame, blind’ and unable to ‘repay us’ for what we do.

When we have breathed our last we will receive from the Hands of God our Father, what we have given while we are here on earth.  For some this time could generate great fear, because of how we have treated one another, but Jesus reason for speaking this candidly is to inspire us to change our perspective and our ways and look with eternal eyes.  God wants us to look at our brothers and sisters in Christ and love and forgive and give another opportunity to trust, because He daily trusts us enough to offer each of us this opportunity. For, Jesus wants to reward us in heaven and for eternity.  Jesus wants us to be His followers and inspire others to serve others in ways that will show our faith to, for and in our world, community and in our church. Jesus desire with each of these vignettes is to help those who heard it first and we the hearer today to understand that when we sacrifice our own self, our own comfort and perceptions for others, God will ‘repay us’ in eternity.

This is why God through His Son, Jesus Christ spoke to the ruler in the way that He did.  Jesus wanted the ruler and we the hearers today to understand God will repay us for our actions or inactions, our attitudes and how love even those we disagree with.  God sees all, knows all and invites us to see those around us who are less fortunate or different from our experience to receive a blessing through our hands. Jesus desire is for we His brothers and sisters to daily and consistently reach out our hand in Christian love and shower those who are ‘poor, crippled, lame and blind’ with the love that flows through us from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  For if we believe in God’s grace for all of mankind, we are empowered to share it with others, not to earn a reward, which is against God’s free grace for all mankind, but to love one another as Jesus Christ first loved us and gave Himself up for us on Calvary. In our living this daily, we will be changed here and in eternity and will receive from God in eternity His unending love promised to us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  AMEN!