Sexagesima (About 60 Days until Easter)

Readings: Isaiah 55:10-13 | 2 Corinthians 11:19-12:9 | Luke 8:4-15

Text: Isaiah 55:1-3, 10-13

At the beginning of Isaiah 55, before we hear this familiar proclamation about God’s Word, we hear God’s heart with a different analogy—one we can all appreciate:

1“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.

“Come and be satisfied!” This is the message God is speaking to us today through his prophet Isaiah. Here in these verses, we see several things about the Lord’s invitation.

First, who are the ones to whom the Lord is extending this invitation? Isaiah tells us: everyone who thirsts” and “he who has no money.” Is that you? Are you thirsty? Do you realize your spiritual poverty? If so, then this invitation is for you. If not, then you should take a more spiritual look at yourself.

So, are you thirsty? In the New Testament, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6) To the sinful woman at the well, he says, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever.” (John 4:14, see ESV footnote) And at the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37) You see, Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. When Isaiah says, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters,” he’s really looking ahead to Jesus, who would give the waters that will satisfy our thirst.

So, are you thirsty? Do you know and feel your spiritual thirst? Do you realize something’s wrong, something’s wrong with you? That you are a sinner? That you have broken God’s good commandments and gone contrary to his will? That you haven’t done the things that you know God wants you to do? That you have done things you know you shouldn’t do? That’s sin, and it should make you thirsty, spiritually thirsty for something, anything, that will take away your guilt and your shame. Do you sense and feel your own lack of inner righteousness? That dissonance between what you know you ought to be and what you have been? That you aren’t good enough to stand before almighty God on the Day of Judgment?

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” How much does it cost to buy the food and drink the Lord here offers? Keep in mind, this is the greatest food and drink you could possibly imagine (keep the wine of Cana’s wedding in mind, John 2:1-11). This food is the forgiveness of your sins and the sure hope of everlasting life. Despite everything our bodily senses tell us, it doesn’t get any better than that. Even the most exquisite meal on earth will leave you hungry or thirsting again. But not what the Lord gives!

So how much does this grand feast cost? Absolutely nothing. You heard me: Nothing. No cost at all. No, wait. It does come at a cost, except you’re not the one who pays it. But for you, it’s free. No charge.

We’ve all heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Meaning, it may sound like it’s free, but it really isn’t. There are some strings attached. You may not be paying directly for that supposedly free lunch, but somewhere down the line, you are, whether in higher taxes or whatever. In this world, in this life, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

But when it comes to the food and drink that God offers, it is free, truly free. This is a gracious invitation, all by grace, a free gift. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Rom. 6:23-24; Eph. 2:8-9) And in Revelation 22, it says, “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

You see, you couldn’t buy this food and drink even if you tried. You cannot pile up enough good deeds to offset your sins and thereby purchase the priceless gift God gives you. You don’t have that kind of currency. But Jesus does. He has the righteousness that has infinite cash value. Enough to go around to cover the debts of every sinner everywhere. “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

And when I say that God’s great feast does come at a cost, but you’re not the one who pays it, I’m talking about Jesus, of course. He’s the one who pays for your redemption, your rescue from sin and death. Christ paid that incalculable cost on the cross. There he, the sinless Son of God, paid the price that sets us sinners free. How did he do it? He “redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death.” (Small Catechism, 2nd Article) There is no greater price that could be paid than that. And this is how the Lord can offer you his gifts for free: Because they’ve already been paid for.

So why would you go after other things that cannot satisfy like the Lord’s gifts can? The unbelievers and our sinful flesh look all over the place for things they think will satisfy their hunger and thirst. But nothing else can do the job. “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” That’s a good question. All these other avenues that people go down are dead ends. They will end in death. They may give momentary pleasure, but they will end in death.

Whether it is in a god made up in someone’s imagination, or to the desires of our flesh, or to the fleeting promises of this world, all of these are insufficient. Our fleshly desires always aim against God’s will for our bodies and lives. The world with its pursuits is passing away [1 John 2]. All hopes for an earthly paradise have and will fall flat, because people remain sinful.

We have the capability to turn even good things into an idol. Prosperity, pleasure, health, wealth, recreation, romance, a nice home, family, fun times. Even these good things, these good gifts from God, cannot ultimately satisfy. Don’t let them become an end in themselves. These things cannot forgive your sins. These things cannot rescue you from the grave or hell. Instead, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33)

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” Yes, it is the Word of God which satisfies our human need.

10“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”  (Isaiah 55:10–13)

Today, hear and heed the Lord’s gracious invitation, and come and eat and drink. Be fed by the feast of His Word which bring you peace with God, deliverance from death, and everlasting security! Eat and drink when that Word is joined to the bread and wine at the Lord’s table. This is rich food indeed!

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Original sermon by Pr. Charles Henrickson, adapted by Pr. Michael Miller

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