Wisdom’s Meal

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2010-09-12 (am) Proverbs 9.1-6 Wisdom’s Meal

            I came across this passage when preparing for last week’s sermon.  It is such cool teaching, that I can’t believe I never noticed it before.  There’s a lot going on and I hope we’ll be able to unpack adequately it this morning.  What I mean is, I hope we all will catch the greatness of God as powerfully as it is displayed for us today.

          So last week, we looked at wisdom, noticing that it entails two things: the prerequisite for wisdom is the fear of the Lord, that is, a true reverence for God, as creator, saviour, all-powerful being above all beings.  And true understanding comes from knowledge of God, the Holy One.

          In our passage, wisdom, personified as a woman, is described in various ways.  As we shall see, if we don’t know already, Jesus is all wise, Jesus is wisdom personified.  Now, it is trippy, because wisdom in Proverbs is personified as a woman.  But it is also Jesus, who is a man.  Well, we keep in mind that the author of Proverbs was teaching his son, so personifying wisdom as a woman probably helped keep his attention!

          So we begin.  Wisdom has built her house.  In John 1, we read that Jesus is the one by whom all things were made (Jn. 1.3).  Jesus told his disciples, in the same gospel, “In my father’s house are many rooms, I am going there to prepare a place for you” (Jn 14:2).

          Notice that Jesus says, “I am going there to prepare a place for you.”  Jesus going, via the cross, paved the way for us to join him in his Father’s house.  Jesus’ death on the cross was the means of preparing the place for us.  This is why we remember his death, because of what Christ promises us!

          She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table.  Jesus is identified as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  In that way, he fits this description of prepared meat.

          Jesus is the bread of life, we break bread, as Jesus broke it, not only on the night he was betrayed, but also on the day he was revealed as raised from the dead.  We celebrated this morning, Lord’s Supper, that prepared bread, and wine that represents wisdom, freely given to those who will receive it, but more on that in just a bit.

          This past week, I was, as I mentioned last Sunday, trying to redeem the time by listening to some lectures.  I listened to a couple by Dr. Don Carson.  Don Carson is one of the editors of one of the textbooks assigned to every student of the New Testament.  Well, in this sermon, Dr. Carson was talking about the ironies in Matthew’s gospel, particularly the irony that Christ had to die, in order for us to life. 

          But he helpfully pointed out that this irony of something dying in order to give life, is everywhere.  How many of you had toast for breakfast?  Who is planning on eating bread, or meat, or vegetables today?  Everyone?  Well, for us to live, those things must die, the egg, the pig, the cow, the grain, the vegetable.  Whatever natural food you eat, it must die before you can use it for energy, for life.

          Jesus is like that.  He must die, so that we can live.  And we have the reminder of his death, in the bread and the wine.  More than that, we who receive this food in trust, in faith, are nourished by it!  Not simply by the grains and the fruit.  But by the Spirit of God within us.

           Now the next few verses call to mind another passage from scripture, words of Jesus again, don’t they?  Those who celebrated weddings in May, or yesterday, or who are looking forward to the upcoming weddings might have thought of it already.

          “Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 0 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

          Jesus invites anyone to come.  But like the one who came unprepared, he will not accept anyone who comes unprepared to learn, or gain true wisdom.  He will not accept anyone who comes with their own preconceived notions.  Jesus butted heads with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law precisely because they believed they had the truth.  But they were ignorant.  They believed they were wise, but they were fools.  They thought they knew God, but when God stood before them, they rejected him!

          Jesus even called Peter out on this!  When Peter started suggesting that he knew exactly what the messiah needed to do and be, Jesus said to him, “Get behind me, Satan!  You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

          Jesus Christ graciously invites anyone to come to him.  He is willing for anyone to participate in his meal, Wisdom’s meal, if they are simple, lacking in judgement, who are willing to leave their simple ways and walk in the way of understanding.

          What does it mean when it says wisdom says, let all who are simple come in here, describing those who lack judgement.  Isn’t this a description of a person who keeps an open mind.  Isn’t this a description of a person who doesn’t believe that he already has everything figured out?

          Now, there has to be a point made here.  There’s a distinction.  Wisdom calls to those who are willing to learn, those who are willing to surrender their preconceived notions about God and truth, and replace them with the truth about God and truth.

          An open minded person isn’t wishy washy.  An open minded person is humble, willing to admit a lack of knowledge, but not willing to surrender what they know is true, or what they know is in agreement with wisdom.

          As we’ve been looking at this distinction, perhaps it has come into your mind that what we’re trying to say is that people ought to be tolerant.  Tolerance today is suggested as being open minded about anything.  But tolerance today is just relativism. 

          Today’s version of tolerance says, “You believe one thing, I believe another thing.”  In my tolerance I can’t tell you that your belief is wrong, nor can you tell me my opinion is wrong.

          The true definition of tolerance is this: You believe one thing; I believe another thing.  I will try to dissuade you from your position, and you will try to dissuade me from mine.  In my tolerance, I will fight to the death for your freedom to proclaim your own belief.

          What we have today is total ambiguity, an untenable position.  You cannot say that two opposite or opposing claims are true.  It is a contradiction; it is illogical.

          So, wisdom, Jesus, calls to all people, inviting them to see him, know him, and understand what he did for them.  So that they may gain wisdom, gain understanding, gain judgement.

          The meal we celebrated this morning is a reminder of who Jesus is.  He is the saviour.  He is God’s Son.  He took on human flesh, so that he could bear the weight of God’s wrath against sin, the sin of the all humanity.  As it is written in Romans 5:15-17 “For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!   Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

          Jesus became weak, though he is the strongest.  Jesus became a servant, a slave, though he is the king of kings.  Jesus died, even though he is life.  And he freely gives life to those who seek him, those who are willing to know him and understand him.

          Wisdom calls, as it were, on the streets, even the streets of Edson, even in the country near Peers, Carrot Creek, Bear Lake Road, Wildwood, Niton Junction.  Wisdom calls to everyone.  Jesus sends us to make the call of wisdom, to make his call heard.

          This meal, though nourishing for those who believe, though judgement for those who disbelieve, this meal is meant for more than those inside.  It is meant for those who are outside, those who are willing to hear, listen, understand and obey.

          But how can they hear unless someone calls?  How can they come unless someone invites them?  How can wisdom’s voice be made known unless the servants go out to the highways and byways? 

          We are all ambassadors for Christ, bringing the truth, the true wisdom to an ignorant world!  Amen.

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