Luke 14:15-24: “A Place at the Table, Part 2”
“And when one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, ‘Blessed is everyone who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.’ But He said to him, ‘A certain man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many, and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is ready now.’
“But they all began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ And another one said, ‘I have bought five yokes of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’
“And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ The slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is more.’
“And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of these men who were invited shall taste of my dinner’” (Luke 14:15-24, NASB).
When you read these passages, what comes to mind?
It looks to me like our Lord Jesus is telling both His audience then and us now that He enjoys a good time with people and wants as many as possible to join Him in the celebration. I do not know about you, but I am more than ready to go, because what I see here in this present sin-soaked world is about as exciting to me as watching a snail race or a long distance marathon run by sloths. There is absolutely nothing in this world that appeals to me now. I never saw the sense as I grew older in watching my peers decide that going to a party meant getting smashed out of your mind and then waking up with headaches and nausea as a reward for alcoholism training.
Now, I enjoy a good party, and I liked having a good time when the opportunity came for events such as family weddings, barbeques, reunions, youth fellowships, and especially when we lived in the New Orleans area when it was time for Mardi Gras. We lived in a suburb that was intolerant of lewdness, alcoholic beverages, and citizens were protected by the local police.
There were colorful parades each year, and our church took it as an opportunity to pass out tracts and mingle among the crowds, talking to people about new life in Christ, and we had good results because we were having a good time with them, too. There was one church in the neighborhood that saw everything in a different light. They condemned the “wickedness” of Mardi Gras and declared it to be a “celebration of the devil.” They forbade their members to go view the parades or to take days off from work to do so. Their school had class on Mardi Gras day, and if a student or anyone in their church was caught or had been seen in the crowds, they were either expelled or thrown out of the membership. (I always wanted to know how they enforced that.) What they saw as sinful and wicked, we saw as an opportunity to spread the joy of the message of Christ.
I am not here to judge this congregation (which no longer exists due to Katrina and other factors), but sometimes we who call ourselves Christians have a tendency to turn a lot more people off than be the instrument of the Holy Spirit to draw someone to the cross and the joy that will be ours when King Jesus comes back to rule and reign forever. It looks to me as I read the words of our LORD that the Kingdom of Heaven is going to be a time of eternal happiness, worship, celebration, and a party to end all parties. The sad fact is that people are going to give the Sovereign God of Creation the lamest and most pathetic excuses to miss out on it. The story that the Lord Jesus tells the guests at the party He is attending presents that tragic outcome.
The illogical and just plain lame excuses the expected guests give to this man who has taken the time, trouble, and effort to throw a big party and time of fun are a representation of the same lame things people say to us and to the LORD Himself as to why they do not want to be a part of what looks like a potential good time. One guy says he cannot come because he has to look at some land he bought, one says he cannot come because he just bought some livestock that he has to test NOW, and one says his new marriage is more important than the event to which he has been cordially invited.
All I can say when I read this is, “You have got to be kidding me!” But I am not surprised at the outlandish beliefs and thoughts of people who have this strange notion. They are sure that the stale, moldy cake, the flat and warm drinks, the bored guests who have said and done the same old routines for years, and the inevitable hangovers and their aftermath are somehow superior to the treasures, joy, eternal life, reunion with loved ones, and personal love and fellowship from the King of Kings.
I like reading the host’s reaction. He has been snubbed and insulted but does not try to negotiate or rearrange his schedule to accommodate them. He has everything ready, and he is going to throw a party; but now he instructs his servant to go get everyone off the streets who is poor, lame, and blind to come and enjoy a bounty that they would never have expected.
He is not letting his time, trouble, and expense go to waste. If his snobby “friends” do not want to get into the action, it will not bother him in the least. He has new friends and colleagues that he will get to know and enjoy, and whose lives he will let be a part of his inner circle for all time, and he tells his servant to go get more people. His home is open, and the good times are going to go on as he wishes. He is telling his servant that everyone is welcome to the table no matter one’s situation, background, color, or status. That is representative of our great God who wants everyone to partake of His blessings, abundance, mercy, and grace. Who else would possess that kind of love in this age where everyone is at each other’s throats and rage is the order of the times?
All right, you who are reading this, I want to ask you this question if you do not have a personal relationship with the God who loves you and wants you in His kingdom. What kind of dumb excuse are you going to give Him for refusing to come to His celebration, made possible by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross for your sins? He took your wickedness upon Himself as the perfect substitute for us so we would not end up in the hell we deserve for rebelling against Him in Eden. There is no way whatsoever you can redeem or save yourself or think you can get into heaven on your “good works,” of which the Bible compares to a bloody menstrual rag (Isaiah 64:6).
It is only through Jesus Christ that you can EVER have access to eternal life in heaven. He said it (Isaiah 53; John 3:16, 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 5:6-11).
He has never steered me wrong or left me, and there are millions of brethren who will testify of this truth throughout the centuries and now. Come on, you know by now in the time I have written these studies that I would not say otherwise. Give up your junk, your sins, your excuses, your self-centeredness, your stale food and putrid drink, and surrender your life to Jesus Christ today. He has your reservation ready and the table is set. The party’s getting started soon, and I want you to be part of the celebration. Jesus is the host, and He is ready to welcome you with open arms. Do not pass up this good time, please.