Lord God, give us grace by thy Spirit to hear thy glorious word. Amen.
Isaiah 55. 1-5. Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not; and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee, because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.
Here, in our Lord Jesus, in his church, is to be had everything which the soul needs: water to refresh us, wine to strengthen us, milk to nourish us. 1) If you thirst after God, he is to be found here; if you thirst after forgiveness of sins, this is the place where it is to be had; if you thirst after righteousness and love, after holiness and light and peace, all these are here; here are the waters of life. “If any man thirst,” says Jesus, “let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, out of him shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7, 37. 38). 2) If you feel weak and weary and ill, he cries out to you, saying: “Come to me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Even though you be on the point of going down, he shall strengthen you, that you may “mount up with wings as eagles; run, and not be weary; walk, and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40, 31). “The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” You shall receive of comfort and joy all that you need, and can bear; and with it you shall receive the desire and the strength to fight the good fight of faith unto the end. The Holy Spirit bears witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God, and strengthens you mightily with the gladness of hope. 3) In the sincere milk of the word and in the heavenly gifts of the Holy Supper there is sufficient nourishment for your inner life. Here is food for your mind, that you may grow in the knowledge of God and in heavenly wisdom; and for your heart, that you may increase in charity, and in fitness for all which is good.
Everything is to be had for nothing. This is what is here meant by “buying”! Nothing is the price which you are required to pay for the good things of God’s house. It is clear, then, that all who will may come, and buy. For we all have nothing; we all have lost our possessions, and have nothing for which to buy. Or do you still, perhaps, make an effort to count out money; to make payment with prayers, tears, works, sufferings? These are but coins of lead; and you spend them in places where there is no bread; in the house of the bondmen, and of the ministers of the letter, not of the spirit. No; in reality you have nothing. Come, then, just as you are, and enter the kingdom of grace, where Christ is the ruler, and all are free; where forgiveness of sins is the law of the covenant, and the hearing of the word is the rule of life. “Lo, every one that thirsteth, come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely!” So says the Lord; and if you hear it, you taste the love and grace and peace of God, and have eternal life. Incline your ear, and come unto Jesus; hear, and your soul shall live!
Give us grace to do this, merciful God. We confess with sorrow, that we are hard of hearing when thou dost proclaim thy gospel of life. Dear Lord, have mercy, and open our ears by thy Holy Spirit, that we may receive life and strength of the abundance of thy house. Amen.
He that drinks shall live forever;
‘Tis a soul-renewing flood:
God is faithful; God will never
Break his covenant in blood,
Signed when our redeemer died,
Sealed when he was glorified.
– TLH 149, “Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain” [tune]