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. ( Luke 14:15)
The Parable of the Great Feast in Luke 14 is all about the danger of presuming on God’s Love. Jesus is at a Sabbath feast, having been invited by one of the Pharisees. As he observed the other guests taking their seating, as close to the host of the feast as possible, He warned them about presuming upon their own status. In Jewish culture in the 1st century, seating arrangements at a feast were accorded by Status. The Highest guests would be seated closest to the host, (The “Master of the Feast”).
And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them. When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.( Luke 14:7-11)
Jesus warns them (and us) not to presume on being in favor or worthy of exaltation, rather it would be better to assume our own lowliness, and take the lowest seat and wait to see if the Master of the feast will call you up higher, than to be called to take a lower seat.
Nor should we allow our religion to be a mere “mutual honor society” among our ‘peers’. Anyone can give and receive favor, honor and compliment among his peers. Jesus told us that Sinners love those who love them, there is nothing special about that. Let your faith lead you to the lowest, and to those least esteemed; seek to elevate them, especially those who cannot pay you back, for then your reward will be seen at the Great Messianic Feast, which comes at the time of the” resurrection of the just”.
But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:13-14)
It was at the mention of the Resurrection of the Just, and it’s association with the Messianic Feast, that caused one of the guests to blurt out, “Blessed is He that shall eat Bread in the Kingdom of God!”.
Obviously the guests all knew what Jesus was referring to, for the Resurrection of the Just and the Messianic banquet were major tenets of the religion that they all shared, including Jesus. The man who blurted out that blessing was speaking for all of those present. They all knew of it and they all expected to be there. Furthermore they all expected each other to be there as well, for the guests present at that banquet would consist entirely of people just like them, they would all be orthodox Jews, sharing the same identity and religion.
All who were present at that Sabbath meal, were familiar with descriptions from scripture of the joys of that banquet and that day, of which they were sure they would have a part in…
And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.( Isaiah 25:6-8)
As far as they were concerned, they, and everybody like them, would “be there”, and that was for sure. This is the setting for the Parable which is a great warning against the sin of Presumption and the dangers of presuming on the Grace and Love for 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. ( Luke 14:16-17)
A great man was going to throw a feast. He wanted to invite all of his closest friends. He sent out the invitations and received back the RSVPs. Everyone said,”I will be there”, “Count me in”, “I am planning on it”, etc. All were sure they would be going to the great feast.
But between the Invite and the RSVPs, and the time of the actual feast, there was a delay.
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.( Luke 14:17-19)
For all of those close friends who had received the invitations and who were sure they would “be there”, the time of the feast came at an inconvenient moment. Things had come up. So they offered lame excuses. None of the excuses hold up.
So the great man is incensed and near humiliated, what to do about the feast?
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.( Luke 14:21-23)
The least likely people will be invited! People who had never been invited to anything rich, nice, extravagant before. Let them come to the feast and enjoy! So the least heard the invitation, and couldn’t believe their ears! ‘What? You want me to come to the feast? Are you sure?’
I do not doubt that those originally invited were sincere when they said “I will be there”,and they probably had some intention of being there. They were close to the host, they had seen feasts before, this was another feast. They knew the salad fork from the steak fork, they could identify the wine selection, it was very familiar to them.
Sure, the initially invited friends of the Host wanted to come and even expected come to the feast.
But not as much as the second batch of invitees. The ‘nothings’ simply couldn’t believe their own good fortune, the “grace” of the invite was truly Amazing to them. They had never had food like that, nor had they ever been treated so well, and the Music sounded like heaven itself.
What is the Moral of this story?
There are many who are thoroughly familiar with Christ. These are the ones whose whole life, they had been taught of Christ, they know about the rapture, the bread and the wine and the sinners prayer. They have been to many, many lesser ‘feasts’,(Church services), and the final ‘feast’ is where they fully expect to arrive at someday. They would love to be there and plan on getting there somehow.
Of course, they want to go to heaven, but how badly? Would they lose friends over it? Would they be willing to admit they are wrong over it? Would they be willing to be ostracized for the sake if it? Would they be willing to die for the truth of it?
Or is it just another feast, that one can take , or leave.
Do they just presume they will get there? Somehow? Or do they want it with all of their heart and soul?
The Poor, blind, lame and halt, cannot believe their good fortune , being invited to the feast, (The ground of all true joy and happiness!). To them it is not just another feast, that they vaguely hope they will arrive for.
The Book of Revelation proclaims this message,
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. (Revelation 19:7-9)