“Come and Be Satisfied!” (Isaiah 55:1-5)
Today the Lord is extending an invitation to you. He is saying to each one of us today: “Come and eat!” “Come and drink!” “Come and Be Satisfied!”
“Come and be satisfied!” This is the message God is speaking to us today through his prophet Isaiah. Our text is the Old Testament Reading from Isaiah 55. Listen again to the first part of this text: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.”
Here in these verses we see several things about the Lord’s invitation. We see who are the ones to whom the Lord issues this invitation. We see how much it costs to come and buy the rich food and thirst-quenching drink the Lord offers us. And we see the folly of going after those things that do not satisfy.
First, then, who are the ones to whom the Lord is extending this invitation? Isaiah tells us: “everyone who thirsts” and “he who has no money.” Is that you? Are you thirsty? Do you realize your spiritual poverty? If so, then this invitation is for you. If not, then you need to rethink your situation.
So, are you thirsty? In the New Testament, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” To the sinful woman at the well, he says, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever.” And at the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” You see, Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. When Isaiah says, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters,” he’s really looking ahead to Jesus, who would give the waters that will satisfy our thirst.
So, are you thirsty? Do you sense and feel your spiritual thirst? Do you realize something’s wrong, something’s wrong with you? That you are a sinner? That you have broken God’s good commandments and gone contrary to his will? That you haven’t done the things that you know God wants you to do? That you have done things you know you shouldn’t do? That’s sin, and it should make you thirsty, spiritually thirsty for something, anything, that will take away your guilt and your shame. Do you sense and feel your own lack of inner righteousness? That you aren’t good enough to stand before almighty God on Judgment Day and pass his muster? Do you feel these things? Do you know it and own it? If so, that’s actually a good thing, because now you are ready to hear and respond to the invitation he extends to you.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” How much does it cost to buy the food and drink the Lord here offers? Keep in mind, this is the greatest food and drink you could possibly imagine: the forgiveness of your sins and the sure hope of everlasting life. It doesn’t get any better than that. So how much does this grand repast cost? Answer: Absolutely nothing. You heard me: Nothing. No cost at all. No, wait. It does come at a cost, except you’re not the one who pays it. But for you, it’s free. No charge.
We’ve all heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Meaning, it may sound like it’s free, but it really isn’t. There are some strings attached. You may not be paying directly for that supposedly free lunch, but somewhere down the line, you are, whether in higher taxes or whatever. In this world, in this life, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
But when it comes to the food and drink that God offers, it is free, truly free. This is a gracious invitation, all by grace, a free gift. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” And in Revelation 22, it says, “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” This is what Isaiah foresees when he says, “Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
You see, you couldn’t buy this food and drink even if you tried. You cannot pile up enough good works to offset your sins and thereby purchase the priceless gift God gives you. You don’t have that kind of currency. But Jesus does. He has the righteousness that has infinite cash value. Off the charts! Enough to go around, more than enough, to cover the debts of every sinner everywhere.
And when I say that God’s great feast does come at a cost, but you’re not the one who pays it, I’m talking about Jesus, of course. He’s the one who pays for your redemption, your rescue from sin and death. Christ paid that incalculable cost on the cross. There he, the sinless Son of God, paid the price that sets us sinners free. How did he do it? He “redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death.” Dear friends, there is no greater price that could be paid than that. And this is how the Lord can offer you his gifts for free: Because they’ve already been paid for.
So why do people go after other things that cannot satisfy like the Lord’s gifts can? It really doesn’t make any sense, but still, that’s what people do. They look all over the place for things they think will satisfy their hunger and thirst. But nothing else can do the job. “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” Why indeed? All these other avenues that people go down are dead ends. They will end in death. They may give momentary pleasure, but they will end in death.
People are always searching, searching for things that will make them happy. And when those things become more important than God, or they take the place of the one true God, they become an idol.
Some people look to other gods, false gods, gods made up by men. There is Allah, the false god of the Muslims. There is the false god of the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who is not the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as revealed in the Scriptures. These false gods cannot save. They cannot help. They do not exist.
Some people run after sinful pleasure to be their ultimate good. They seek their happiness in illicit sex, adultery or homosexuality, in drunkenness or drugs, in greed or gluttony or wrongful gain. Anything to appease their appetites and give them a high.
Some look to politics, whether left or right, to provide the answer to man’s problems. Some look to nature, the environment, and they worship the creation rather than the Creator. All these wrong turns. None of these answers will satisfy in the end.
But even good things can become an idol. Prosperity, pleasure, health, wealth, recreation, romance, a nice home, family, fun times. Even these good things, these good gifts from God, cannot ultimately satisfy. Don’t let them become an end in themselves. These things cannot forgive your sins. These things cannot rescue you from the grave or hell. Instead, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” Yes, today, hear and heed the Lord’s gracious invitation, and come and eat and drink. This is rich food indeed! Come today and receive Christ’s very body and blood here in this Supper. This bread is his body, given for you. This cup is his blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.
Oh, wondrous food of blessing,
Oh, cup that heals our woes!
My heart, this gift possessing,
With praises overflows.
Dear friends, today the Lord is saying to you: “Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live.” Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters. Come, you who have no money; come, buy and eat without money and without price. Come and eat what is good; delight yourself in rich food. Yes, come and be satisfied!