Summary: Parables for Seekers, Pt. 4
BE MY GUEST (LUKE 14:15-24)
A wedding, Western- or Chinese- style, is an expensive affair.
American weddings cost the father of the bride an arm and a leg! According to thewedding.com, the projected 2007 U.S. average spent on a wedding is $27,690. On average most consumers will spend $800 to $1,200 on a wedding gown. Nationally, in 2006 consumers spent $1,841 on attire, $2,337 on their ceremony, $1,104 on favors, $1,136 on flowers, $1,739 on jewelry, $922 on music, $2,659 on photography, $13,692 on their reception, $809 on invitations and $563 on transportation. A study released by the Fairchild Bridal Group in 2005 revealed that only 25 percent of brides’ parents planned to finance an entire wedding. The survey found that 27 percent of couples planned to foot their wedding bills themselves and 16 percent planned to pay for the day with help from the families of the bride and groom.
Chinese weddings can be even more expensive. On top of the above expenditure, a 10-course dinner is served to guests. A young married couple I know paid $330 a table for 31 tables in 2007 at a Chinese restaurant. Relatives alone on the bride’s side occupy eight tables. One of the parents, bemoaning the stress, work and preparation, said, “I am going to ask my other child to get married out of town when his turn comes!” The compensation for Chinese couples is that both Chinese families – groom and bride’s - usually split the cost of the wedding and Chinese well-wishers often give money, not gifts, to help the newly-weds to cover the wedding!
Jesus likened God’s offer of salvation to receiving an invitation to a sumptuous feast, a costly banquet or a lavish party. When some declined to attend, others gladly took their place. The theory behind this parable includes the exclusion of the prideful Jews from the kingdom of God, the inclusion of outcast Gentiles in God’s kingdom and the condemnation of the self-righteous Pharisees.
Why do people reject something as privileged, as precious, and as perfect as God’s gift of salvation? What does God think of man’s rejection? How did he feel and what did he say? What steps did he take? What was his original plan, his alternate plan, and his hidden plan?
God’s Gift of Salvation is Offered to Those Who Did Not Earn It
15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” 16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ’Come, for everything is now ready.’ (Luke 14:15-17)
A man dies and goes to heaven. Of course, the apostle Peter meets him at the pearly gates. Peter says, “Here how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”
“Okay,” the man says, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.” “That’s wonderful,” says Peter, “that’s worth three points.”
“Three points?” the man says. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service.” “Terrific!” says Peter. “That’s certainly worth a point.”
“One point?” the man says. “Well, I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.” “Fantastic, that’s good for two more points,” Peter says.
“Two more points!” the man cries. “At this rate the only way to get into heaven is by the grace of God!” Peter smiled, “There’s your 100 points! Come on in.”
God’s gift of salvation is compared to not just any supper, but a great supper (v 16), or a “mega” supper in Greek. It is not merely a meal but a feast, not a snack or high tea but a banquet and the mother of all parties. The supper will be a perfect, rich and opulent feast. The most distinguished chefs, bakers, florists, musicians and singers will be in His service. The staff, ushers and hospitality will be first-class. The food there will be better than Ritz Carlton, White House and United Nations fare. You will be pampered with appetizer, dessert and snacks. The food is not the all-you-can-eat Hometown buffet or Sizzler buffet, or the usual set lunch, lunch special, early bird special, weekday special or after 10 pm specials. Attendees will receive five-star service at world-class facilities for a day and an evening like no other. Potluck, catering, frozen food, canned food and fast food will be banned, and all the delicacies in the world – Alaskan king crab leg, lobster tail, abalone, bird’s nest soup, shark’s fin soup – will be served. Paper napkins, plastic cutlery and Styrofoam cups are not permitted; cloth napkins, stainless steel cutlery and the finest china tableware are provided.