The good news of the Kingdom is that Christ has conquered the devil. But how He conquered is the important part of this text. He conquered Satan not by arguing with temptation, but by rebuking temptation with God’s Word.
He did not allow the devil to set the rules for the game. The rules were set long ago. We are not to give the devil the privilege of interpreting what God has made so clear.
We come to this table this morning with the full assurance that Word and Sacrament are clear means of grace for us this morning. God gives us His word for our nourishment and He gives us Bread and Wine as eternal signs that no temptation is greater than that which we can bear, but God is faithful and just to provide us a way to escape it.
God looks at you this morning as His beloved ones, chosen to serve Him before the foundation of the world. This is a noble task; one we must embrace with great joy, but also with a profound sense of responsibility for we are serving the Lord of Light.
The Transfiguration urges us to live the good news in the valley and to taste of the dazzling glory of Jesus when we gather together. Indeed, worship is heavenly because it is in the heavenly places, and there we get a glimpse of why Peter so desperately wanted to stay. But we can’t stay, because Jesus urges us to live out our worship in all that we do.
This morning we partake of the body and blood of our blessed Lord, so that we may hunger more and more for that place of wonder and delight where clothes turn dazzling white and where faces are changed.
These exorcisms (Luke 4:31-44) are pictures of what Jesus does with our sins when we confess them. He takes them away and calls us to serve, as Simon’s mother-in-law. In service, we are equipped to exorcise the pain of others. In service, we are equipped to heal our brothers and sisters.
This table is Jesus’ service to us. We come as baptized saints to enjoy and benefit from this meal. In this meal, Jesus is given for us, that we might be given for others.
This manifestation of Jesus in the synagogue is filled with vivid imagery (Luke 4). The anger of the Nazareth audience demonstrates that in this world we will have tribulation. The promises of God fulfilled in Jesus have severe repercussions for the authorities of this world who despise Messiah and His claims.
The visual and edible meal before us is also a threat to another group: those who would like to tear the church asunder. This meal is a meal of unity. And God says if you destroy this body you too will be destroyed. So this meal is for those who desire peace.
This morning we drink and eat for the sake of unity and to celebrate the God who gave us His life for our peace.
We celebrate today the baptism of Jesus, because all the events in the life of Jesus are significant to our own lives. The baptism of Christ is that initial moment where he presents himself to the world as the God/Man sent with a divine mission to accomplish the Father’s will.
Baptism is not optional. If the Son of Man was baptized, if the Son of Man, who in Luther’s words “is holier than the waters of baptism” needed to be baptized, so too God calls us to submit ourselves to this act.
Baptism gives us access to the table. Baptism means you are clean to come to Jesus’ Table. Baptism is God the Father saying: “Children, wash yourselves, so you can eat with my Son, Jesus Christ.”
Those washed in baptism in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, from whatever Christian tradition, baptized through immersion, sprinkling, or pouring, are welcome to this table. This is not Providence’s table, this is the Lord’s Table, and so it belongs to those marked with His name in baptism. Come and eat with our Lord.
The desirable effect of purification is to make us more valuable, more Christ-like. God comes to us this morning as a washer and refiner. He possesses all the ingredients to make us clean, and He has done so by His mercy and love.
It is the goodness of God that would dare provide us with anything at all. But this is the God we worship: a God who refines, washes, and makes whole.
This table is for those who have experienced the glories of a true washing. This table is for those who have been baptized by the waters of baptism and sanctified by the continual refining of God the Father through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit.
This marks the end of the Pentecost Season, and thus the end of the church calendar. The Psalmist says that “In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to His name forever.” This is a day to boast in the God we serve. We boast in Him for who He is, what He has done, and we give thanks because God never ceases to display His abundant love to His children. We are participants in this great thanksgiving agenda. Every time we sit and eat and drink together we are demonstrating to the world that we have abandoned a life of selfishness and pride, and thanksgiving now forms us a people.
The table of our Lord is a table of finality. The table is the final act before God commissions us into the world to serve our Risen Lord. And so as we come to the end of the Church Year, let us respond with thanksgiving, for God has led us through this journey of exile and deliverance, and now He will lead us to the expectation of the Manna who will come from heaven to be given and broken for us.
The Reformation got rid of the mysticism that surrounded the Lord’s Table. This table is a table of faith: young and old belong at this table. The God the Reformers believed was not a miserly God, He was an abundant God. This God did not give a stone when His children asked for bread. He did not give water to the wedding guests, He gave the best wine. The God the Reformers believed loved to shower His children with blessings. This table is a blessing to us baptized and forgiven by the God who is Three and One.
The Lord of all glory gives us of Himself that we might be nurtured. He nurtures us that we might perpetuate His example of selfless giving and nurture the world. At this table we are reminded and exhorted to serve one another just as we have been served by Christ. This table is the giving of the Son for a holy people: a people made holy by the One who is altogether Holy. We do not weep at the table of a dead Savior, but we rejoice in the presence of an Exalted Lord. Let us rejoice as we dine with our Lord.
God is the author of history, so He directs history in his good pleasure. He places redeemed men and women in His world to walk accordingly. He demands that we exercise a faithful presence. And to prepare us to walk worthily of His calling, He feeds us at His Table. The mouths of infants who proclaim his praise, as David says, are mouths that need to be fed. The mouths of men and women who sing and declare his glory are mouths that need to be fed. If you are baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit you are called this morning to be fed by the Lord who endured all things for our sake.