18 June 2023 Ann domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“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. 16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 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. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 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. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 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. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” (Luke 14:15-24; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
At the beginning of Plebe Year as a cadet at the Academy, I learned very quickly not to make excuses when questioned about some deficiency of appearance or conduct. The answer was ALWAYS, “No Excuse, Sir.” Then I might be asked the reason instead of the excuse, and it always came down to my own laziness or inattention in performing my proper duty. Today’s text brings out the flimsy excuses men make to cover their lack of devotion and commitment in meeting their obligations. Each was invited previously according to custom, but when the time came for performing, they made excuse in common consent. This is a trait of the lost sinner, too.
This parable of today’s text was given at the home of one of the chief Pharisees who had invited Christ to supper. It is doubtless that the invitation was made out of a cordial courtesy, but out of a contemptuous curiosity to learn more of how they might entrap the Son of God.
The comment that precedes the parable is noteworthy of the casual piety with which many regard the means of salvation. Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. The one posing the comment doubtlessly considered himself to be one of those blessed ones who would eat of that Bread in Heaven. Many of us simply assume that we shall be among the number and smugly look around at those whose destiny we may consider in doubt. The comment of Balaam seems to best describe this lot: Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! (Num 23:10)
The statement, of course, is a profound truth, but the way in which it is viewed from the personal perspective may be profoundly in error. Instead of concerning ourselves about our PRESENT righteousness, we are too focused on the end of the play – how we shall DIE! We must not occupy our time with undue emphasis on End of Time matters, but rather with those issues of life itself as it exists in the here and now. In order to walk from Jerusalem to Damascus, we must take EVERY step in between. Every step is as important as the last for, if one be missing, we shall not reach Damascas.
16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: God is the ‘certain man’. The Great Supper is Heaven itself. Those ‘many’ invited are the fullness of the Will of God for those to fill His Heaven at last. We do not know the number, but God certainly has a fixed knowledge of it. God has invited a great many to that Supper. Though an invitation may be received, it will benefit the recipient nothing at all if he fails to respond to the invitation. (“many are called but few are chosen” Matt 20:16)
Certainly, if you hear these words and have read the Gospel, the invitation has been extended to you. But what will you do in response to the invitation? Are you presently too busy to come? Have you properties to look after that forbids your coming? Are the trifling concerns of the world preventing you? Compared to the salvation of your soul, every other consideration is trifling.
17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. Jesus is speaking to the Jewish guests who have early been invited to the Great Supper. They have not yet, at this point in His ministry, rejected Him officially. Those hereditary descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – not because of bloodline and DNA, but because of geographic affinity – have been invited first to the Great Supper. “All things are made ready” in the great I AM – the Gift has been presented in the coming of Christ, the life of love and labor has been completed, the sacrifice of the Great Passover has been killed, and the first fruits of God in the Resurrection fulfilled. All is ready at great expense of the “Certain Man” who has extended the invitation. He is speaking, first, to those who have already received the invitation.
18 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. Not a few, but ALL began to make excuse with one consent. It brings the fearful image to mind of all the Jews gathered on the paddock outside the balcony of Pontiius Pilate screaming Crucify Him! Crucify Him! “His blood be upon us and our children.” (Matt 27:25) …and so it has been, and is today. Of what worth is a piece of ground which belongs to a dying world whose coming fiery death is a stark reality of prophecy? The surgeon has scheduled you for an appointment for surgery to remove a cancer that will certainly kill you soon if not removed. Afterwards, he is leaving for Africa for many months. What happens if you miss the appointment? Will an acre of ground loom more importantly to you than the life-saving surgery?
19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. Certainly, oxen may be more important to the depraved of faith than coming to the Great Supper in Heaven. How can one night of nuptial bliss surpass the eternal joys of heaven. Did not God give the oxen, the land, the wife? Yet, we have no time for HIM! What is it truly that prevents inquiring men and women from coming all the way to Christ? It is the deceitfulness of riches: He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (Matt 13:22) Remember the shipis like the Church. It is made for the sea just as the church is made to be in the world. But when the sea begins to get into the ship, and the world into the church, the resulting ship wreck will be tragic. Those who simply do not desire to serve will always have SOME excuse to delay. The longer the delay, the greater the thorns that choke away the remaining life until…it is too late!
Bear in mind that we do not discuss any ordinary invitation – it is issued by the King of all Kings. Is it wise to refuse? 21 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. The purpose of God in bringing the full number of His Elect into the Kingdom will not be abrogated by the small wills and weaknesses of men. He will fill His Supper with those who respond in earnest to His invitation. – even if He must enlarge the list of those invited. So here, in accordance with His foreknowledge and providence from the beginning, He sends for those who will genuinely respond, outside those first invited: the poor, the crippled, the suffering, and the blind. We all may easily fit into this last category. Before we knew Christ, we were absolutely blind. Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? (John 7:48)
22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. The angels have expanded the list, yet still there remains room for others. Thank God that there does remain room for others, for those others are those who read, and the one who writes, these sermon notes. The maimed, the poor, the halt, and the blind have responded to the invitation ahead of those prominent ones who were privileged to come and have rejected the invitation. There is STILL room – even today!
23 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. God sends His ministers into the four quarters of the earth seeking those who will respond to His gracious invitation. God will have His House filled with those who desire Heaven more than the riches of this world….not half-full, but wholly full with His predetermined number. The net is cast in the darkest depths of the sea where hope was forlorn and depravity beyond measure. The Gospel will go out to the heathen and the Gentiles. In fact, all of the Household of Israel – those who are Children of the Promise in Abraham. This does not require a blood heritage except the blood of Christ. It is doubtless that the Pharisees gathered around Christ understood fully His parable and were enraged by it. How could those vulgar Gentiles be placed ahead of them in gaining the privilege of Heaven? How, indeed? By faith!
24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. Heaven will not be a home-delivery proposition. IN order to taste of its delicacies, we must come to it by way of the Householders Son. He has bought and paid for your invitation with His own Blood. He is the “ Way, the Truth, and the Life” and none comes to the Father but by Him. How shall you trample His Blood underfoot by refusing the gracious invitation to come?
Jesus has sealed your invitation with these words: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt 11:28-30)
How have you responded?