Texts: Psalm 18, Ex. 4: 1-18, Mark 15: 1-15, Luke 15: 23
“Bring the fatted calf and kill it..”
When one or all of our older sons is coming home for a visit, there’s one thing you can be sure of—there will be a plethora of smoked meats prepared at our house. Stevie loves nothing more than a weekend with the kids home and his Big Green Egg grill full of ribs, brats, salmon, chicken, and any other meat you can think of. He even does the shopping for the meat smoking extravaganzas because he wants to make sure everything is just right. He makes his own tangy-vinegary-spicy barbeque sauce and he fiddles around outside with the grill FOR HOURS. It’s like man-nirvana. I don’t dare interfere except to make a few side dishes which themselves are totally irrelevant to the man cubs. There’s something about those boys coming home that inspires a feast—even for a man who couldn’t find the apple cider vinegar in our house to save his life.
When I read the Gospel lesson for today about Pilate handing over Jesus to be crucified, it all made sense. Our father has done everything to restore us to the table, where his only son will be the very food—the sacrifice and sustenance. The suffering of Jesus makes it all possible. The death of Christ is the price God paid in order to bring us home, to make merry and feast with us. And every Sunday when the Lord’s Supper is served, we partake of this life, this sacrifice. There Christ joins Himself to us in body and soul— his suffering redeeming our suffering, his life overcoming our death. The Old Testament is full of God feeding his people, of him finding a way to save them with food and same is true for us today.
Feasting is not an afterthought with God.
It is the point of his coming—to bring us back to the table and feed us with the life-giving food of the crucified Christ.
You cannot earn your spot at the table. It was paid for you by Jesus, the paschal victim and the paschal feast.*
Welcome to the table, dear one.
*From the hymn At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing.