Third Sunday in Lent
March 11, 2007
Come to the Diner!
Is it “Diner” or “Dinor”? I’ve often seen the latter spelling used. I always considered that a misspelling, but it doesn’t keep me from going in for a meal. What I’d be suspicious of is a sign on the “dinor” saying FREA MEELS. Even if they spelled it right, it would seem too good to be true! Yet that’s just what the prophet Isaiah offers.
I. Yes, it’s an incredible offer. Free food! Doesn’t Isaiah contradict everything we’ve ever heard? “Money talks and nobody walks.” “There’s no free lunch.” “You get what you pay for.” Indeed, they may add, you get only what you pay for!
Of course, we understand that he’s not talking about mere food. He’s really talking about, as Peterson paraphrases, “life-giving, life-nourishing words.” Isaiah is announcing a buffet that fattens up the soul.
Jesus goes so far as to identify Himself with the offer: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
“Why spend your money on junk?”
II. That’s a reasonable question. It’s the question my exasperated father asked me when I showed him a comic book I’d bought for five dollars. It was a collectable in near-mint condition, but Dad’s point is valid. Surely there’s something more valuable out there, more beneficial to the body, mind, soul, and spirit.
In our comic book culture, aging “Peter Pans” fight growing up, spending their substance on every pleasure the body wants and the mind craves. But to what end? Today’s “field of dreams” is tomorrow’s junk heap. Last month’s great deal has become this month’s collections harassment.
Now the good sense in Isaiah’s question shines forth. He’s pointing us to He who offers the things that money can’t buy, the things that truly satisfy. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it’s because it comes from . . .
II. A truly remarkable Person. Throughout Scripture He’s identified with King David (cf. Ezekiel 37:24, Psalm 89:49, Acts 13:34). Here He’s called the “leader and commander for the peoples.” We know Him as Jesus, who was often called “Son of David.” Though Jesus was descended from King David, His kingdom would extend far beyond the borders of Israel. Through the Gospel, He would call “a nation” Israel didn’t know, i.e., the Gentiles.
This remarkable Person extends His incredible offer – the heart’s desire – to as many as want it. It’s available to everyone – to “the peoples” and to the people next door, to you and to me.
Many years ago, a black preacher was scornfully told that he couldn’t preach. He couldn’t even be saved because he wasn’t a white man! The black preacher responded with gust “My Bible says, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’ I may not be a white man, but I surely am a creature!” How grateful we all should be that the Leader and Commander is gathering an army from “every tongue and tribe and nation.” He is truly the Equal Opportunity Employer. His arrow of truth flies straight for the heart. It doesn’t glance off the surface of color, sex or background.
The Gospel of Christ, then, provides . . .
IV. A do-able solution to the dissatisfaction of the human heart. “Whosovever will” may come to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – provided he is willing to turn from his wicked thoughts and ways. In the end, this is the only distinction in humanity that will count. Before God’s great judgment seat, Kipling’s “East and West” will truly meet. The only separation there will be between the righteous and the unrighteous, the sheep and the goats (cf. Matt. 25:32).
So, whoever you are, are you hungry? There’s a do-able solution to that problem? Come and eat! The Diner or Dino – however you spell it – is always open. The food is always fresh, hot, and delicious. But you’ve got to get up in faith, drive out in repentance, come in, sit down, and order up from Jesus.
Come and get it! (Gary Robinson)