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13th Sunday after Pentecost

Grace, mercy, and peace are yours from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!  In the name of Jesus, dear friends in Christ, Food is a necessary component of living.  We all need food to live, it gives us energy, it keeps our body functioning the way it’s supposed to… food is good.  Lack of food is bad.  If you’ve ever gone without food for a while, what happens?  Your stomach begins to hurt, your stomach starts to growl, maybe your head begins to hurt, all you can think about is getting some food, perhaps you also become short-fused and irritable…all because you need food.  Now imagine being invited to and attending a grand banquet.  The tables are decorated with fine white tablecloths and adorned with fancy centerpieces.  You can smell the savory aroma of fine cooked food in the air.  Your mouth begins to water.  Then the food is served cooked to perfection and fashionably presented: the choicest appetizers, the choicest drinks, the choicest entrees and side-dishes, the choicest deserts.  How are you feeling?  Pretty good?  I’m thinking so!  Food has a way of enticing and luring us, and good food has a way of brightening our day and giving us satisfaction and contentment and joy.

In our text for this morning we get a picture of such a fine banquet where the food is rich, the drinks are good, and the setting is splendid.  It’s from the book of Proverbs and Proverbs was written by the OT King Solomon.  If you remember one thing about Solomon, you probably remember that he was very wise- and he was, following God’s will he was the wisest person who ever lived.  You also might remember that Solomon lived in great luxury, he was very wealthy.  He knew what it was like to throw a fine banquet.  God used him to write the book of Proverbs.  Proverbs gives us a lot of good insight into life here on this earth.  But the theme of Proverbs is: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  So, it is only those who fear the Lord who can be truly wise.  Yes, someone can have great intellect and great learning, but if they don’t fear the Lord, in God’s eyes they’re no better than a fool.

In this text Wisdom figuratively pictured or personified as an esteemed and dignified lady who prepares a fine banquet.  She has industriously built her spacious house with seven pillars.  No other house would do, she felt it necessary to build her own new home and make it spacious and well built and firm with seven pillars.  Next she prepared her meat, mixed her wine and set her table.  Literally, the Hebrew says, “She’s slaughtered her slaughter” She’s butchered the meat AND cooked it- it’s ready.  She’s mixed her wine.  It’s likely this refers to mixing the wine with spices to make it even more tasty and delightful.  Now, obviously she’s not promoting drunkenness, rather, wine was a staple part of meals in Israelite society.  And she’s set her table.  Did you notice the subject of all of this?  Wisdom has done it all.  She hasn’t left one thing up to someone else- this is her banquet, her meal, her feast she will do it all from start to finish.  And notice the excellency of how everything turns out!

Now that everything is ready she sends out her maids to invite people to come.  Even she herself goes out to the highest point in the city where the most would be able to hear her call and invites.  Her invitation goes out to unusual guests, to all who are “simple” and all who “lack understanding.”  There is only one kind of guest who is invited: the simple, those who don’t know all the answers, who lack understanding.  Those are the guests she invites and lures with her beautiful banquet.  However, to come to her feast necessitates a leaving behind of the simple things, the foolish things.  But coming to her feast and enjoying it means life and a true full life.

Now, of course, God is using imagery here.  But the truth of this Scripture is better understood when we take it in the context of all of Scripture.  Here we’re told about Wisdom.  But this Wisdom isn’t defined just any way- it’s true Wisdom that begins with the fear of the Lord, it’s godly wisdom.  This wisdom and the epitomy, ultimate wisdom par excellence is Christ.  In Colossians we’re told that Jesus “is the image of the invisible, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created…He is before all things, and in him all things hold together…he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:15ff).

Christ, too, has prepared His “banquet.”  All alone He has worked and completed His plan of salvation for all.  The invitation to enjoy this eternal banquet has gone out to the world.  It has gone out to the “simple” and “those lacking understanding.”  The reality is that everyone in the world is alike under sin and compared with God everyone in the world is “simple” and “lacks understanding.”  However, some don’t realize their simplicity, some still think they know better than God, and they reject Wisdom’s gracious invitation and continue to live in simplicity.  Others see their simple and sinful ways and are drawn to the free banquet.  It is they who as our Gospel says, “Eat the Bread of Life.”  They eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood.  In other words they drink in the Wisdom offered by Christ in the Gospel.  They are the ones who believe in Him and who enjoy the banquet, they are the ones who truly live and truly have life to the full.

However, there are many, though they are simple minded and lack understanding, think that they are smarter, they are wiser than God.  They think they know better what life is all about than the Creator does.  These fools search after food that does not satisfy, the “wisdom” of this world, the cheap thrills of this temporary, sinful life, the lies authored, provided, and advertised by Satan.  We hear this foolishness when we hear things like, “It’s YOUR body, you have the right to do with it as you please,” “It’s your life no one can tell you what you should or should not do” “Those church traditions and that silly Bible are outdated, why concern yourself with such silliness, live it up!”  Sinful, fallen human minds can only be simple and cannot fathom God’s wisdom.

But the fact is, we too, are not immune from wanting to eat the moldy scraps from the dumpster of sinful human reasoning.  What lies of Satan do we believe?  The invitation to the Banquet of God’s Wisdom necessitates a leaving behind or forsaking of simple ways.  Yet, do we turn to the wisdom of this world?  To our own fallen, sinful reason?  “God, I’m pretty sure I know better how things should work out here.”    “God, why don’t you listen to my good advice for once?”  “It’ll be ok to stop my daily Bible reading, I’m just too busy.”  “I know this is probably wrong, but I’ll do it just this once, God will understand.”  About this time many colleges and universities will be starting classes again.  Students will be offered all kinds of so-called ‘wisdom.”  “You’re finally free!  Now you can do what you want!”  “Come on, you have to experience college life a little, right?”  “Drink this, try this, sleep with your boyfriend or girlfriend, besides God’s ideas of sex and marriage are so outdated, right?”  But the truth is, following any of those things is not only sinful, but will also leave us wanting, craving, desiring something more.  Why?  Because this sinful world cannot offer us anything that is wholesome, cannot quench our spiritual thirst or satisfy our spiritual hunger.

There is only one place that will quench our cravings and what grace of God that His invitation still goes out into the world, still invites, still calls out to all again and again.  God’s grace is seen that He has given us true Wisdom, true understanding.  By faith we “eat” Jesus’ flesh and “drink” His blood.  We see Him as the Bread of Life, we learn from Him what is life, what the Gospel is all about, we learn the true perspective on life.  It’s the beauty of God’s Wisdom by which He lures and entices us away from the simple and foolish ways of the world.  It’s not that the Gospel and Jesus and the forgiveness of sins in Him is just one religious theory among many.  The Gospel is exclusive- there is only one way, one truth, one life – and thank God there is!  Look at the “dinner banquet” of wisdom God has provided for you!  Jesus was your perfect substitute, Jesus paid for your sins in full on that cross, Jesus opened heaven’s gates for you, Jesus washed you clean in your baptism.  The banquet Jesus provides is everything your soul could possibly desire and more!  God’s righteousness and His undeserved grace cover you!  Freedom from sin’s slavery and guilt’s power!  Forgiveness for all those past sins that keep you awake at night!  Peace knowing that whether you live or die, you remain safe in God’s hands!  Joy to know that in all things God works for the good of you, His child!  The blessed assurance that eternal life in heaven is the ultimate desert you will enjoy forever!

God’s wisdom changes us!  We know what life is all about!  Those big questions of life are answered.  We are given joy and peace like none other!  We know what it means to truly live!

So, as you go out and prepare a meal, remember the meal God has provided for you in your Savior and how He has laid out the banquet table of His Word for you to enjoy.  Crave ways to hear and learn more about God’s wisdom- as you talk about God’s Word with your family, sit down together and read Scripture together, as husband and wife share time alone together with their Savior “eating” from His Word.  Live as those people who are truly wise!  Live with the joy and peace of having a “full belly” enriched by the truths of God.  Give a quiet witness to those living in foolishness of what it means to be someone “fed with Jesus”; live your lives as a display of joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

You don’t have to live your life like you are famished and starving, irritable and angry.  Why?  Because the banquet of God’s wisdom lies before you, you have tasted it, you still feast from it day after day, rich foods and delicacies that satisfy your soul’s cravings.  You are satisfied, you are content, you are full, so live joyfully as someone filled with God’s wisdom!