Religion & Spirituality:Christianity
The Great Banquet
The Great Banquet
Good evening. About this time of year, it seems to me that summer barely arrived and now it is winding down. Perhaps the week of cooler temperatures after the last hot spell made me think that. For whatever reason I started to think of the things we have to look forward to in the latter part of the year.
For example; I appreciate the month of November for two days that remind us to be thankful of where we are and what we have, and to be thankful of the sacrifice made by those that serve. Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving Day.
I heard a story about little Johnny I’d like to tell you. One Sunday morning the preacher noticed little Johnny was standing staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. It was covered with names and small American flags mounted on either side of it. The young man of six had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the preacher walked up and stood beside him and gazing up at the plaque he said quietly, "Good morning son."
"Good morning sir " replied little Johnny not taking his eyes off the plaque.
"Sir, what is this?" Johnny asked.
"Well son, this is in memorial to all of our young men and women who have died in the service," replied the preacher.
Soberly, they stood together staring up at the large plaque.
Little Johnny's voice barely broke the silence when he asked quietly, "Which one sir, the 11:00am or the 6:00pm?"
I can easily understand little Johnny’s confusion and perhaps you can as well. Fortunately, when it comes to telling us of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus does not confuse, though His audience may sometimes be uncomfortable. Please turn in your Bibles to Luke 14 which will be our reference for this evening’s lesson. One of the great qualities, which dominated the life of Jesus, was His unselfishness. While He was eating dinner in the presence of the Pharisees, Jesus’ thoughts turned to the many people who hadn’t been invited.
He spoke to His host in the plainest of terms and said in Luke 14:12-14 – “Then He also said to him who invited Him, "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor your rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. "But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. "And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.''”[NKJ]
Make no mistake about this, these were hard words, I would imagine the host staring at Jesus with anger in his eyes, but that didn’t deter Jesus.
Matthew 5:6 - “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” What is Jesus doing through this parable? Jesus is giving those who aren’t Christians an invitation. He is generous. Yet people continue to reject His grace. When we converse with non-Christians, we need to try to get them to the point where they think about Jesus’ offer of salvation. When they get to that point perhaps, we can encourage them to think about confessing His Name before people. Talk to them about repentance, talk to them about turning away from self and start turning to God.
If they start thinking about those things, they may come to the question the Jews asked Peter in Acts 2:37, “What must we do to be saved?” Every person needs to get to that point. It is not a case of saying - “God, this is what I’m going to do to be saved”. It is asking what God wants us to do. When people come to that conclusion, we can teach them that they can become a child of God by doing what Peter told them to do and what every other Christian who is here today has done. Acts 2:38 "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
If we get anything from this parable tonight it is this. Jesus’ invitation is open to all of us. Anyone and everyone. Keep in mind people are going to come up with excuses. We need to put in their minds that an excuse is simply that. It’s an excuse. We need to let them know there is a table here, and there is a space at that table for them. We have not prepared it, Jesus Himself has.
Luke 14:21-23 - "So that servant came and reported these things to his master. 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 here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.' "And the servant said, `Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.' "Then the master said to the servant, `Go out into the highways and hedges, and urge them to come in, that my house may be filled. " [para]
We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins… If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.
Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
#607 “All Things Are Ready”
It is Free