Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Great Banquet; Are You Coming?

Just to let you know that all scriptures used on this blog from this point forward unless otherwise noted come from the NIV 2011 (Which is a great revision!).

Luke 14:15-24 is an interesting passage of scripture. Here Jesus tells a parable about a man throwing a huge banquet and inviting many guests who later turn the invitation down due to other important things.

Luke 14:15
After telling those gathered around the dinner table (see 14:1 for context) to invite those to dinner who cannot pay you back, one of the guests says, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” This line allows Jesus to throw out a parable about the feast in the kingdom of God.

Luke 14:16-17
A great banquet is set and guests, it seems, have already been invited. When it comes time for the banquet the host sends out his servant to announce that the banquet is ready.

Luke 14:18-20
At the time of the banquet several of the invited guests find excuses for why they cannot come to the banquet. You could argue that these guests are somewhat wealthy by what they are buying (land and oxen). One has bought land and needs to go and see it. One has bought five yoke of oxen and needs to inspect them. Another has just gotten married. They seem like legitimate excuses, right? Some scholars have said that only the last excuse is legitimate. They say no one would buy a field without first seeing it. No one would buy oxen without first trying them out. So, what’s going on here? Do the guests not want to attend the banquet? Even the marriage excuse is still just an excuse. Marriage could only exempt you from war, not dinner parties.

Luke 14:21-24
The servant returns to tell the master what has happened with his guests. In response the master opens up his fancy dinner party to those who were not originally invited. The master says, “Go out quickly and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” After hearing that there is still more room the master sends his servant out again to the “roads” and “country lanes” to compel more guests to come. A final statement from the master closes this parable, “I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.”

The idea behind this parable is that the salvation Jesus’ coming brings, along with the kingdom of God He is preaching, is a lot like the master who has thrown the great banquet. Isaiah himself describes God’s salvation as a great banquet when he says, “On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.” (Is. 25:6)

Unfortunately the leaders of Israel who the banquet was prepared for and who were invited to the banquet have come up with excuses for why they cannot attend. They are going to miss out on God’s salvation because, you could say, they are too busy with life to notice the importance of what is taking place around them.

Ever find yourself guilty of that? Ever wonder what kind of things in our day and age keep us from attending the banquet? What kind of things today so preoccupy us that we miss getting involved in what God is up to? What kind of ministry opportunities at your local church are you turning down week after week because you are too busy with those things? Is it worth it to live in such a way? In the end will you eat at the feast in the kingdom of God or will you be too busy to attend?

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