2017-10-22 – Luke 14.15-24 – Come to the Feast

2017-10-22 – Luke 14.15-24 – Come to the Feast

The Parable of the Great Dinner

15 One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. 17 At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ 20 Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ 23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”

2017-10-22 – Luke 14.15-24 – Come to the Feast, pg 77

Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.

Reminder: Annual Business Meeting November 5th, Teams should be preparing their annual report and I will present a year in review.

Last Sunday I showed a high-level listing of our church leadership and her functions. This listing here shows our different teams & ministries. I will give an overview of the functions and if anything needs to be updated or changed, please let me know. Also know that as your pastor, I am considered a part of each these ministries by default.

My hope is that everyone can find a couple ways to participate in this churches function and mission.

Today’s message is called Come to the Feast as it deals with an invitation to what must have been an amazing dinner party. I like parties, and I especially like dinners, I hardly ever turn down food, and it shows J

Please turn in your Bibles to Luke 14:7, page 77 in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God.      But first let us Pray… 

Now just prior to our main parable verses today, as we went over the past few weeks, you should know that Jesus was stirring up a commotion by telling the Pharisees and the Priests that their actions did not reflect that they were truly God’s chosen children. Because the fruit they exhibited didn’t show that the love of God was within them. Afterwards in this chapter, we see that Jesus was invited to a wonderful feast along with some Pharisees and Lawyers. While He was there, He healed a man that dropsy (which means swelling), on the Saturday Sabbath. The self-righteous Pharisees and Lawyers were all aghast! Jesus was again, violating their standard of doing no work on the Sabbath.

Left: Renoir’s painting called “Luncheon of the Boating Party”

Right: Typical Eastern Feast

Then starting at verse 7 of this chapter 14, we have a section called Humility and Hospitality, it says:

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

This kind of reminds me of when I started working for the Corps of Engineers at the Arsenal. My first day there, I went and ate lunch in the atrium. Nobody sitting at one of the tables, so I sat down. Soon about five managers came and sat down with me. I thought to myself, wow these guys are so nice that they would welcome me into the company by eating lunch with me. This repeated for the next few days. But then one of my co-workers approached me and asked why was I sitting at the managers table. I was shocked, and of course I apologized to them, but to my surprise they asked me continue to dine with them anyways.

So these verses here are about pecking order. And Jesus was dealing with a pride issue and He didn’t hold back His ridicule of their actions that He had witnessed. I would have loved to be at that dinner party. Jesus was kind of calling them out in front of all present. Talk about a party pooper. But He didn’t even stop there. He then called out even the host here in verse 12:

12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Wow, talk about bold and convicting. If somebody did this at your dinner party, how would that make you feel? Would you ever invite them back?
But Jesus wasn’t there to make friends, He had an agenda and an eventual appointment yet with the cross. This was one of the opportunities He had to shake them up a little bit. To get them either to change their prideful ways, or otherwise to excite them to the point of persecuting Jesus going forward.

The host and the dignitaries there that day probably expected another foo-foo type occasion where everyone hob-knobbed and rubbed elbows with each other. To strengthen their leverage upon one another in hopes that this occasion might enhance their lifestyles in some way going forward. But Jesus saw the level of pride and pomp displayed here, and He knew that there were people hurting and hungry right outside the walls of the party but they were not invited because there was nothing the host felt would be beneficial for doing so. Jesus was dealing with a bunch of prideful men and He was calling them out, and I would imagine making them squirm a little in their seats.

Jesus again was dealing with their specific sins. He did that many times as he was ministering and teaching the disciples.  He is not suggesting we never have a dinner party or banquet with our friends and family, but He knew what was in their heart and He was dealing with it directly. Just like when He told the rich ruler to give away all his money, Jesus was dealing with the rich mans individual problem. But this parable today should make you consider more the poor and hungry though. It should also cause us to check our pride and humility levels.

This message here sounds a bit critical, but it should also give all of us hope because it shows in God’s eyes we are all on the same playing field. There is no Cast or Class in God’s eyes. How much money you have or how good you look on the outside holds no currency in God’s economy. On the contrary, the more humble a person is on the inside, the more room there might be for God to work in their lives and use them for His great purpose and glory. Jesus was making that point to the Pharisees, leaders and Lawyers around Him that day, and again, I am sure their level of animosity for Jesus was growing by leaps and bounds as a result.  That takes us to our parable. In verse 15, and it is called The Parable of the Great Dinner

15 One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 

This first sentence is already setting the stage. I am sure it got Jesus’s attention. Effectively the dinner guest was saying that those around the table that day, were of course part of the elite group that will dine at the table of God in Heaven.

16 Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many.
17 At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ 20 Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the slave returned and reported this to his master.

That, ladies and gentlemen is want is called an excuse. I remember in the Army, when a soldier gave an excuse, the drill SGT would yell out “What is the Maximum effect range of an excuse?” To that, all the troops would yell “Zero!” Talk about embarrassing. This also reminds me of a statement that a Japanese teacher and friend of mine once said. He said the culture in the east was that if a lady was asked out on a date, she would never just say “no”, instead they would make up excuses, as it would be an astounding insult just to say “no”. I would bet that same dynamic is in play here. The invitees didn’t want to say “no”, but instead made up some excuses.

Just look at these first two, one bought some land, another some oxes, this was just silly. Obviously they had money and could have had somebody fill in for them if necessary. I would bet they didn’t watch the oxes themselves anyway.

Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ 23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”

You might know that this parable is also listed in Matthew 22:1–14, In that version Matthew conveys that this feast is actually great wedding feast. So the dynamics here are even more critical than just a garden party. If people don’t show up to a wedding, that can be a huge deal even today, and a horrible insult.

This parable is actually the third installment in a series of rebukes by Jesus directed toward the Jewish leaders. From this parable, I think Jesus wants us to see three things. First, the gates of the kingdom are open wide. Salvation is not based on ethnicity, education, income bracket, popularity, ministry position, personality type, cultural savvy, athletic ability, or attractiveness. For this reason, we should be very careful not to assume that the people most fit for the kingdom are those who look most like us.

Second, although the gates of the kingdom are open wide, the kingdom still has gates and we must enter through them. The invitation has been given, but we ain’t partying with Jesus until we accept that invitation, send in our RSVP through prayer, ask for forgiveness, and accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. And as long as we are living after that, we should be exhibiting evidence of a changed life. We should bearing fruit of the Holy Spirit that is sealed inside of us. In the words of Paul in Colossians 3:12 we must put on, “as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility,” and the like. That is the fruit that these dinner party guests were missing that day.  And this event was also a picture of the Jewish nation. Because of their arrogance and their rejection of Christ’s invitation, the rest of the world is now been invited. And that would be you, and that would be me. Jesus is asking you to come to the party. For I can attest, it is a great place to be.

Finally — and we mustn’t miss this point — the kingdom of God is a Feast.
And as party participants we should start acting like it is. God means for His Christ centered eternal party to be enjoyed. When we accept the invitation, we are born again. And that is something to celebrate for sure. For He is the God of pure joy, laughter, and second helpings. In His presence, says King David, there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Do you believe that?

There are a lot of people making excuses these days.. Excuses why they don’t have time to consider Jesus and Heaven. Excuses why they don’t come to church. Excuses why they don’t read their Bible. As Christians, we need to stop making excuses. We should make our blessed Christian walk more of a priority. God has a feast of joy and contentment waiting for you. And if you haven’t accepted the invitation yet, would you consider doing that today? Jesus said all that call upon His name will be saved. I know that I am going to Heaven. I have accepted His invite, and I look forward to eating at the table of the All Mighty God. Praise the Lord.  Please stand..

[Alter Call & Prayer]