The Banquet

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2024-02-23A

Please read Luk. 14:15-24

A. A BANQUET IS QUITE DIFFERENT FROM EATING FISH AND CHIPS AT A TABLE IN THE CAFE AROUND THE CORNER.

Again Jesus spoke about entering His kingdom. He compares the invitation to enter, to an invitation to a banquet, a feast organized by a rich and important man.

Throughout the ages mighty kings have displayed their glory on such occasions. For example, in the book of Esther, chapter 1:6 – 8, we have the description of a banquet organized by King Nebuchadnezzar:

White, green, and blue hangings were fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble. The beds were of gold and silver, on a pavement of red and white, and pearl, and black marble. And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, the vessels being different from one another, and royal wine in abundance, according to the hand of the king. And the drinking was according to the law, no one compelling, for so the king had commanded every chief of his house that they should do according to every man’s pleasure. 

B. THE INVITATIONS.

Kings and dignitaries carefully consider who they want at the feast and only those are invited. To be invited to such a feast is of course a great honor, but not only that, the invitee is actually under obligation to attend. Non-attendance will be seen by the host as a slap in the face, a contempt of his person and not easily excused. Therefore, invitees will carefully diary such an invitation so as not to miss it by mistake. Even some uninvited who hear about it, will try to conspire to get a ticket. It is almost unthinkable that someone will cast his invitation card aside on a shelf and continue with his own affairs on that day or days.

C. THE GREAT DAY HAS COME!

When the day of the banquet dawns and the guests enter the hall, they are treated with the greatest courtesy and sit down to the most exotic foods.

Is this indeed what happened at the feast of which Jesus tells? Unfortunately not! When the occasion was still in the planning stage, the servants had already gone forth to invite the guests, informing them of the date and time. Then the banquet was prepared and when everything was ready, the messengers were sent out again to inform the guests that they could now come.

D. THE GUESTS DISAPPOINT.

One would expect them to be ready, decked out in their best clothes, excited and come right away, but no, they each excused themselves! Unthinkable. What excuses could they have? Let us look at some:

1. Please pardon me ….. .

The first one said: “I just bought a piece of land and I have to take a look at it. Please excuse me.” Was it a valid excuse? No. A person who buys land, will inspect it thoroughly before he spends his money. Once the price is paid, he will not be able to do anything about it, even if afterwards it turns out to have been a bad purchase. So there was no reason to hurriedly go and inspect it to determine if it was good or not.

2 Please pardon me ... .

The second invited guest, when the servant knocked on his door, replied: “I have just bought five pairs of oxen and am on my way to test them. Please excuse me.” Again a poor excuse. What could be achieved by urgently testing the oxen after he had bought and paid for them?

3. Please pardon me … .

The third one’s excuse was, “I have just got married and therefore cannot come.” But why did he arrange his wedding to coincide with this banquet? Furthermore, why did he not bring his bride along to the festival? Women normally love such occasions.

E. A DISSAPOINTED AND OFFENDED HOST.

When the host, who was so looking forward to the feast, heard all these flimsy excuses, he thought to himself: “The reason is not that they cannot come, but between the lines I read very clearly that they do not wish to come.” He was obviously very disappointed, even offended. 

Standing in the banquet hall, surrounded by his concerned servants and looking over the multitude of empty chairs, he must have made sums and calculated what an immense sum he had fruitlessly spent on food and other preparations. It was all wasted now. What an anti-climax! 

On the entertainment stage, the hired musicians hid their embarrassment by further tuning their instruments because there was no one to whom to play the cheerful music they had prepared.

F. WHO WERE THESE RUDE INVITED GUESTS?

Jesus intended this story primarily for the ears of the listening Jews. They were the descendants of Abraham, the people and friends of God. Through the ages, He had sent His messengers, the prophets, to them to tell them about the feast He was preparing for them so that they could be prepared when the time would come for them to sit down at the tables. But now they were still too busy with their own interests.

G. WHAT FESTIVAL IS JESUS REFERRING TO?

What exactly was this festival Jesus was referring to? It is a spiritual festival planned by the Father before the world was created. Its pupose was to welcome back the lost humanity into the Father’s Kingdom. Its cost would be incalculably high. It could not be paid in gold and silver. His Son, Jesus would have to pay for it with His own life by suffering the pain and shame on the cross of Calvary. There He would exclaim: “It is finished.” Everything would be ready for mankind to enter His Kingdom Hall, sit at His table and enjoy the fruit of forgiveness of sin and eternal life. The Jews were the first of all mankind to whom this invitation to his banquet would be made.

H. SCORNED ETERNAL TREASURES.

But this wonderful invitation did not resonate with most, and especially not with the leaders. External religious rituals were sufficient for them. To receive forgiveness of sin, a new heart and eternal life were spiritual foods that were despicable to the initially invited Jewish guests. Their own affairs were more important to them than the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. They disregarded the King and the glory of His Kingdom.

I. THE FATHER’S KINGDOM IS A BANQUET HALL, NOT A FORCED LABOUR COLONY OR PRISON.

When a sinner is invited into the Kingdom of God, he is received as an honoured guest. He is not handed a pick, a spade and a blue overall at the door and ordered to go hoe the weeds in the garden. No, he receives a spotless garment from the King of heaven and is escorted by an angel to take his place at His table. He is an honored guest and everything on the table is there for him to enjoy freely. (Ps 23:5).

J. OTHER GUESTS INVITED.

So what did God do? He sent his Gospel messengers to the heathen and multitudes of them have been responding and pouring into His banquet hall during the past ages. They got saved, received Eternal Life and are rejoicing in the Lord. And the Jews? Till this day very few of them have heeded God’s call to be saved by the blood of Christ. Yet He has not finally rejected them; there is a time to come when multitudes of them will be turning to Christ.

K. THE INVITATION EXTENDS TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.

And the non-Jews (that means most of us that are reading this writing) will we continue to respond to his invitation? No. Many people sit in church pews but have no pleasure in the God of the church they belong to. So what is the Lord saying to those that have entered in and are sitting at his table. We are to be his evangelists, prophets and teachers to all those that are outside, even to those who live in distant countries and regions. We are to invite them in so that when the trumpet announcing the end of grace resounds through the universe, no one will be able to ask for further postponement because he had not received an invitation.

L. WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM GOD’S BANQUET?

What a striking story and how ignorent the man who prefers his piece of land, his oxen, his wife, his children, all of which are short-lived, to the Eternal Life that the Lord offers us. The person who enters in, not only receives life in Christ and eats daily at His table, he also enjoys temporal things so much more because he no longer puts them above the Lord.

From childhood we as humans are used to sinners’ food such as silly and dirty talk, cursing or word’s bordering on what is evil, a few words of gossip secretly spoken, a “white lie” which the Lord is supposed to understand because it is for a good purpose, some small deed of dishonesty in business, cheating on one’s spouse at work, etc. This has been our diet since childhood.

However, spiritual foods such as tolerance, honesty, conversations about the Lord and the Word, prayer, oh no, these are exotic foods. They are not according to our taste. We do not enjoy them. Going to church now and then, yes, that is tenable, but a daily life inside the heavenly banquet hall? “No, let me do and enjoy my own things first. Thank you for the invitation. I will keep the card in the back of my Bible for the day I may need it. Goodbye!” And then, three days later: “Hurry, hurry, call my pastor. I am dying!”

Dear friend, you are so special to the King of Heaven. By this message His servant is once more stopping at your door, placing an invitation card in the palm of your hand. What will you do with it? Be wise and simply answer: “Yes Lord, I now enter into the banquet hall of your Kingdom. I surrender my life to you forever”.

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