Invite Them All
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Luke 14: 15-23
The Parable of the Great Banquet
16Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.'
21"The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'
23"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.' "
This is a parable, that is, a story told about earthly things that have a higher and deeper meaning.
Scholars differ on this parable's meaning. Many say that the message is to the Jews who rejected Jesus. I certainly can't disagree with that because it was told to those in high position in the faith, the pharisees, and it addressed them rejecting Jesus. But The Word is timeless and applicable to every generation that hears it. This is less a history of a story Jesus told to the Jewish hierarchy that applied only to them at that time. Remember, a parable is a story told about earthly things that has a higher and deeper meaning.
The master in this parable is God.
The banquet is coming under the canopy of His grace and mercy, to be a part of the kingdom.
Those who had been invited are those who've said “yes” to the invitation to accept Christ as their lord and savior. Those same people said, “yes, I will come when you ask” but now that the time has come to be a part of this kingdom banquet, they're too busy being self-absorbed to stop their lives long enough to take their seat and be an honored guest. The master says, come, be in my presence and celebrate what I have for you. But no, the invited guests say...no thanks...not now.
Let's look at the rejection to the invitation a little deeper.
*The man who bought the land just had to go see it...but it is evening when supper is held, darkness falling. This is no time to go look at land. Just an excuse to not attend.
*The man who had just bought 5 yoke of oxen. He had to go home and check them out in the fields. It's getting dark and the morning is the best time to till the fields. Just an excuse not to attend.
*The man who just got married. He seeks the flesh more than the spirit, and doesn't even send regrets...he just says no. Just an excuse not to attend.
“Church isn't for me.”
“I have card night at that time”.
“I've got a game to help prepare for.”
“My kids are coming and we can't miss them when they come.”
“I'm behind at work and just can't break away.”
“I've had some things to come up...maybe next time.”
“I want to come but last time I came I didn't feel welcomed by those around me.”
God calls us to step out of our lives, and into his kingdom. But we say no...not right now.
The master turns to his servant and says, go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' His servant does just that.
Who is the servant? The servants are those who do the will of the master. If we do the will of the master, brothers and sisters, we are the servants. We're ministers for the kingdom, preachers, teachers, laborers, nurturers, healers, lovers, discerner's. We do the will of the master. When the master says to go out and bring them in, all of them, we go out into the streets and alleys and share the news that the master has invited them to a great banquet. We persuade them to come and enjoy.
" Sir, the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.”
And at this the master says to go out further, to the highways and the byways and bring in even more, make them come, for I want my house to be full.
Compel is the word the master uses when instructing his servant to bring even more to the banquet. Make them come. Persuade them to come. Share the glory of the feast and reiterate the invitation.
The servant goes out and brings in even more to feast at this great banquet.
The Lord sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.  Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.  Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
Tony Compolo is a professor of sociology at Eastern College in St. David's Penn. He is a prolific writer and is in demand as a speaker. He tells of one trip to a conference in Hawaii. He arrived in Hawaii in the evening and with the time change from the East he had a difficult time going to sleep. He walked from his hotel to a coffee shop for coffee at 3:30 AM Hawaiian time. As he was sitting at the counter a group of street ladies ' prostitutes came in for coffee. He over heard one of the ladies say that the next day was her birthday and they she had never had a birthday party given for her.
After the ladies left Tony Compolo asked the restaurant owner who the lady was that was having a birthday. He said her name was Agnes. Tony asked if the ladies came in every night at that time. The owner said that they did. Tony said, "I would like to give her a birthday party tomorrow night." The owner said he would bake the cake. The next night Tony Compolo arrived back at the restaurant at 2:30 AM to decorate for the party. At 3:15 the ladies started coming in. Word had spread and it seemed that all the prostitutes in Honolulu heard the news and came to the party. Tony said there he was in a Coffee Shop in Honolulu surrounded by prostitutes. At 3:30 Agnes walked in and they surprised her and sang 'Happy Birthday Agnes.' Agnes was taken back and was in shock. Her knees almost buckled and she had to be helped to a chair.
Harry said, 'Agnes, blow out the candles and cut the cake. The candles were blown out and then Agnes paused and said: Can I keep the cake. I only live a couple blocks from here.
Can I take it home? Tony and Harry agreed and she carefully carried out the cake to her apartment. After she walked out there was complete silence. Then Tony felt led to say, 'What do you say we pray.? He prayed for Agnes and her salvation. He prayed for God's love for her and all her friends.
After his prayer Harry leaned over the counter and said, 'Hey, you never told me you were a preacher. What kind of a church do you belong to.' Tony wasn't sure what to say, he said: 'I belong to a church that throws parties for Prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning.' Harry said: 'No you don,t - if there were a church like that I'd join it if there was.'
We must not be afraid to get out of the norm, the routine, and reach out to the lost. It can be a creative reaching out like Tony Compolo did, or a loving reaching out, or a healing reaching out, a feeding reaching out, a visiting reaching out, a comforting reaching out, a nurturing reaching out...but reach out we must, for the master said to go to the streets and alleys, then the highways and the byways, and bring them all under the canopy until it is full.
His house is still not filled. Who shall we invite, compel to come? Jesus said to bring in the blind – is that the physically blind or spiritually blind?
He said to bring the crippled – is that the physically crippled or emotionally crippled?
He said to bring the poor – is that the financially poor or the poor in hope, poor in spirit?
And he said to bring the lame – is that those who physically can't do what everyone else can do or is it the ones who are only partially capable of loving or being loved?
not the one's who reject the invitation, and we're
not the one's invited, then
we are His servants. Let us serve, and go out and bring to the banquet those He told us to bring...without judgment, but with pure obedience.
Let us pray.
Lord, thank you for your word and your love. May I grow to have a servants heart and grow in courage to hear your command to go to the alleys and the streets, then to the highways and the hedges, the byways, and seek those who need to know you. May I persuade, compel, and encourage them to come to your banquet. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.