Encourage them to come in!

„Then people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and take their places at the banquet table in the kingdom of God.” (Lk.13,29 – Watchword for the 3rd Sunday in Epiphany)

Last Sunday we heard, how our Lord Jesus Christ revealed His glory at the wedding in Cana. Changing water into wine, granting life and salvation in divine abundance, pointing to His sacrificial offering on the cross and its sacramental distribution through Holy Baptism and the Lord´s Supper.

This Sunday, we are to hear, how from the very start this heavenly banquet was destined to be open for people from the very ends of the world, because there is but one God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – for all people of this world.

The sermon text for this Sunday is from the Book of Ruth – the first chapter and first nineteen verses. Ruth´s short story is best read entirely just like the Jews did during their harvest festival (Schawuot). It´s only four chapters long – and each of those only has about twenty verses. That´s a good-sized sermon to read on any given Sunday. It´s full of theological issues, but on this occasion, I´ll just point out that King David and Jesus Christ himself had this Moabite woman amongst their forebears. She´s one of the four foreign (gentile) mothers in Matthew´s genealogy: Tamar, Rachab, Ruth, and “the wife of Uriah” (Bathsheba). Of course, they are converted from the heathen gods to the one living God.

Our good Lord on healing the centurion´s servant (Gospel lesson from Mt.8,5-13) highlights the saving faith he encounters in the Roman soldier, who was no Jew and outside the boundaries of the chosen people (Mt.8,5-13).

I tell you the truth, I have not found such faith in anyone in Israel!

Matthew 8,10b

Our Lord wants those, who are outside to come in – for there is much room still. It´s as the apostle St. Paul starts off his letter to the Romans and we read in the Epistle lesson:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, “the righteous by faith will live.”

Romans 1,16-17

He elaborates on that in the following chapters and illustrates his center piece of the argument in the Old Testament context – and providing the foundation for the Lutheran reformational movement in the long run.

The Old Testament lesson from 2. Kings 5,1-19 on the wonderful healing of the leper Naaman, the Syrian general illustrates our God and Savior´s good will, since:

He wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1.Timothy 2,4

It´s what the verses from the Introit teach us and why we should praise our God:

All the nations, whom you created, will come and worship you, O Lord. They will honor your name. For you are great and do amazing things. You alone are God.

Psalm 86,8-10

Let us therefore join in His praises and worship Him, the one true God of Israel and Father of all nations:

1 Sing praise to God, the highest good,
The author of creation.
The God of love who understood
Our need for His salvation.
With healing balm our souls He fills
And ev’ry faithless murmur stills: 
To God all praise and glory!

2 What God’s almighty pow’r has made,
In mercy He is keeping.
By morning glow or evening shade
His eye is never sleeping.
Within the kingdom of His might
All things are just and good and right:
To God all praise and glory!

3 We sought the Lord in our distress; 
O God, in mercy hear us.
Our Savior saw our helplessness
And came with peace to cheer us.
For this we thank and praise the Lord,
Who is by one and all adored:
To God all praise and glory!

4 He never shall forsake His flock,
His chosen generation;
He is their refuge and their rock,
Their peace and their salvation.
As with a mother’s tender hand,
He leads His own, His chosen band:
To God all praise and glory!

5 All who confess Christ’s holy name,
Give God the praise and glory.
Let all who know His pow’r proclaim
Aloud the wondrous story.
Cast ev’ry idol from its throne,
For God is God, and He alone:
To God all praise and glory!

Johann Jakob Schütz

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
This entry was posted in Epiphany, Lectionary etc, Sunday, Theologie, You comfort me + and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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