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Luke 14:15-24 Today, I would like to talk to you about Jesus’ parable of the Great Feast. First, it is important to understand the context in which He gave this parable. We should start in Luke 14:1. v1-6 Jesus is invited to the house of a prominent Pharisee. These people are very strict about their religion. They did not only follow what was written in the Law of Moses, but also additional oral traditions passed down. To them, godliness was a matter of observing rules, such as not working on the Sabbath day. There is a man with dropsy there, swollen and obviously very sick. Jesus focused on the need of the man with dropsy. But the Pharisees only wanted something to accuse Jesus. Perhaps in their mind they were doing right. But this example shows how misguided we can be at times. Unless we carefully examine ourselves, we can end up being used by the devil to oppose the work of God. v7-11 In these verses, Jesus teaches the people at the dinner and his host about humility. Basically, the message is that we should focus on giving others the honor that is due them. As for ourselves, we should leave it up to God to judge our works. He is the one who humbles and exalts in the long run. In another place, Jesus said that on the Judgment Day, those that are first shall be last, and those that are last shall be first. v12-14 Here, Jesus talks about giving to please God, not other people. Whenever we give, we should be thinking about what God wants, not what other people will think of us or what they will repay us. In fact, Jesus says in another part of the Bible that we should aim to give anonymously, if possible. Then your giving is between you and God alone. Luke 14:15-24 Parable of the Great Feast 15 Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!” 16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I
want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’ 21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’” Jesus has a message here for the Pharisees. He also tells us something about God’s intention for the gospel, or the Good News about salvation. v15-17 15 Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!” 16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ Jesus has a message here for the Pharisees. He uses the opportunity at the feast to give a comparison with the Kingdom of God. He tells them that God has prepared something wonderful for them, and that it is finally ready. For the Jews, the significance of this should have been apparent because they knew that God had sent many prophets in the past to tell them about the Messiah, or God’s servant who would save them. These prophesies were like the invitations sent out to the banquet. In those days it was very much the same as today. You send out invitations to a big celebration well ahead of time so that you have time to prepare. Here, Jesus is saying, “Your salvation is ready. You’ve been invited and now is the time to come.” v18-20 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’ Jesus says that everyone who was first invited gave some excuse for not going. They have some previous acquaintance with the man giving the feast and understand it would be rude to flat-out deny him. Instead, they provide plausible but weak excuses. But in truth, these people simply don’t want to come. Maybe they don’t like the host, or maybe they have nothing against the host but are just really excited about their newly bought field or five oxen or their new wife.
You have to wonder: Is there decision wise? How sad it is for people who have an acquaintance with God to turn away from Him and pursue other things instead. It’s understandable for people who don’t know God at all or who have never heard about God to pursue their career, take care of their house, or be engrossed in some other activity. But if we know who God is—our Creator, Lord, and Savior—and reject Him for whatever else … that’s wrong!
v21-24 21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ Jesus says that the master is still bringing in people from the same town. If the first invitations were to respectable and knowledgeable Jews like the Pharisees, then now God is inviting the rest of the Jewish people—the poor working people, those with diseases, disabilities, and disadvantages. 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’” Apparently, many of these poor people respond, but there is still room for more. In fact, there is just enough room in God’s house for those who God knows will accept Him. He invites everyone to come into the Kingdom, and everyone who responds will have a place. By talking about the country lanes and behind the hedges, Jesus looks forward to the time when the gospel or Good News about salvation will go out to the farthest corners of the earth. Acts 13:46-48 Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, “It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles. 47 For the Lord gave us this command when he said, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.’” 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers.
Moreover, you have to remember who is going to be found behind hedges. Really, Jesus is talking about either laborers in the field or about people who don’t have homes. It is interesting to note that those who most readily accept the call of God are those who have the least in this world. Isn’t that true from what we’ve seen in Myanmar? Looking at it this way, it’s not surprising that relatively few people accept God here in America where we have so much, both in terms of wealth and the gospel. We have Christian radio, Christian bookstores, Christian concerts, and Christian TV channels. But what Jesus said 2,000 years ago still bears out. The people you’d think would accept God’s offer are usually those who reject it. But it’s also encouraging and challenging to think that there is such opportunity for the gospel in many other parts of the world. There are people who are ready to receive Christ but have never heard about what Jesus did for them. And, brothers and sisters, who is going to go to them? Who is going to tell them that God loves them and has a great feast prepared for them in heaven? That the most precious thing in the world is already bought for them, and that they can receive it free of charge? Here we are, living in a land of wealth and overabundance of the gospel. Our hearts are hard and so are the hearts of the people we are reaching out to. Yes, there is work to do here. And yes, there are people who are hurting here as well. But when we remember that God doesn’t value one nationality over another—that He loves a poor beggar in the streets of Calcutta just as much as President Obama—the need for world missions is so tremendous. “Let but faithful labourers be found, who will prove faithful to God, and there is no reason to fear that God will not prove faithful to them.” ~ Hudson Taylor "My wish was, not that those present should be relieved by making such contribution as might there and then be convenient, under the influence of a present emotion; but that each one should go home burdened with the deep need of China, and ask of God what He would have them do. If, after thought and prayer, they were satisfied that a pecuniary contribution was what He wanted of them, it could be given to any missionary society having agents in China...but that perhaps in many cases what God wanted was not money contribution, but personal consecration to His service abroad; or the giving up of son or daughter - more precious than gold or silver - to His service. I added that I thought the tendency of a collection was to leave the impression that the all-important thing was money, whereas no amount of money could convert a single soul; that what was needed was that men and women filled with the Holy Ghost should give themselves to the work: for the support of such there would never be a lack of funds."
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