And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things.
Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. ( Luke 14: 15-24)
Jesus had been invited to the home of a Pharisee on the Sabbath. When a guest at the table of the feast heard Jesus mention the Resurrection, it triggered him. The guest excitedly burst out with a beatitude, “Blessed are those who shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God!”. He was speaking for virtually all of the other guests sitting there.
As Pharisees, they clung to the Messianic hope, and anticipated the final Messianic banquet at the end of the age, fully expecting to participate in it and believing that the only other participants would be people of the same Pharisaic outlook. No one else would be sitting there, except pious ‘Tzaddiks’, (Righteous Ones), Kosher observant Jews, conservative in their understanding of scripture, would sit down at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was a given that they all would be there, no question about it.
Jesus told this parable as a warning to just those people, and to all of their many, many modern counterpoints.
The man who prepared the great supper and invited his guests, is obviously an allusion to the LORD himself, the Host of the Messianic feast, which will occur after God has destroyed Satan and Death, and after he removes the veil which covers all nations.
The guests which were invited and which returned RSVP’s, refer to those closest to the LORD; those who are exposed to scripture; those who know it, read it, and in some cases expound on it. Everything in their life and upbringing should have inclined them to come to that feast, and to be receptive to the invitation.
They all assume they will be there when the time comes.
The Feast is the marriage supper of the LAMB, the ground of all true joy and happiness. It is the promise given to all of those who prize it, of an eternity of happiness and joy in the presence of the LORD. Nothing compares with it. Jesus purchased it with his own blood.
But there is a gap in time between the initial invitation and the time that the feast commenced. By the time the announcement came that “all things are ready now”.
The point of the lame excuses offered by the guests as to why they wouldn’t be there, is to demonstrate that though they all assumed they would be there, and were sure they would make it, and perhaps even wanted to be there as opposed to not being there…but they didn’t want to be there with all of their heart, soul, and being. They had had other feasts, this to them was just another feast.
When these ‘close friends’ of the King showed such half heartedness about the King’s feast, the King was livid! He was not going to accept a half empty banquet hall, so he sent his servants out to gather in the poor and afflicted, the beggars, blind, lame and halt!
Would they want to be there? “Are you kidding ? Me invited to the King’s feast??? ” They who were sitting in squalor and darkness, simply couldn’t believe they were actually being invited to the King’s feast! They didn’t know their steak fork from their salad fork, but were amazed at their good fortune and the generosity of the King towards them.
The three-fold Moral of this story is stark and simple;
- There are some people who are ‘closer’ to God, in the general sense. Born and raised in a Christian or post Christian environment, and to varying degrees, familiar with the Bible stories and the trappings of worship, church, prayer, and concepts such as heaven and hell, and holidays set up around the Judeo Christian calendar of events.
These things were designed to incline them to come to God, to be saved and be participants of the marriage supper of the Lamb. To them there is always the temptation to just assume that they would end up in heaven. If there is a heaven they want to be there, and they assume as ‘good people’ they will get there somehow or other, because God is good.
- But most of these people will not be going there, in fact, according to this parable. Do they want to go there? Yes! But not with all that is within them. Grace isn’t ‘amazing’ to them, it is a given, a vague expectation. They say, ‘God is Love’, and that his love is unconditional, if they even think about God at all.
How bad do you want to go to heaven? Bad enough to admit you are wrong? Or enough to forgive an enemy or bear reproach or to reject the world?
- There are others who humanly speaking , are very unlikely to be at the feast, but will in fact have a seat there.Seemingly nothing in their lives would have inclined them to become a Christian, or to receive God’s forgiveness and to believe in the Son who did for them. These are the morally and spiritually blind, lame, maimed and halt. Born in Atheistic homes, or Muslim or Hindu, and on their way to hell.
But when the message of the Grace of God as revealed in Christ came to them, it stunned them! “You mean God would forgive me? A Sinner?”.
This wasn’t just another feast to them, they could hardly believe their own good fortune, being beckoned to attend the King’s feast.
How could God be so good to me? Would they want to attend? Would they be willing to be there? Even if it meant bearing reproach for Christ, or admitting they are wrong, or forgiving enemies, and forsaking the world?
To them the gospel is the most amazing, happy and blessed news they had ever heard of!