Summary: Parables of Eternal Life, Part 3 of 9
BE MY GUEST (LK. 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 Bride’s Magazine, the average cost for a wedding is $18,874 in 2000. The breakdown of the figure includes $100 for the groom’s rental formalwear, $150 for the bride’s headpiece/veil, $198 for her mother’s apparel, $240 for wedding favors, $248 for the ceremony, $299 for gifts to attendants, $374 for stationery, $400 to cover formalwear for five ushers and a best man’s, $427 limousine. Expenses over $500 include $720 for five bridal attendants’ apparel, $745 for music, $762 for the rehearsal dinner, $775 for flowers, $790 for the bride’s wedding dress. The killer expenses - over $1,000 - are $1,060 for wedding rings, $1,253 for photography and videography, $2,982 for engagement ring and $7,246 on reception for the average of 186 guests. (ivillage.com/relationships/weddings/articles/0,,166891_89536,00.html)
Chinese weddings can be even more expensive. On top of the above expenditure, a 10-course dinner is served to guests. A Chinese restaurant (3/20/03) charges anything from the low end of $218 to the high end $428 for a table of 10. Dinner for 200 at $300 a table can easily come to an additional $6,000. 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 feast, a banquet, a grand occasion, ceremony, or 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, St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates. St. 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 St. 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 St. 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,” St. Peter says.
“Two more points!” the man cries. “At this rate the only way to get into heaven is by the grace of God!” St. 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 simply 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, sumptuous, and opulent feast. The most distinguished chefs, bakers, florists, musicians and singers will be in His service. The staff, ushers, and hospitality are 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, or weekday special or after 10 pm specials. Attendees will receive five-star service at world-class facilities for a day or an evening like no other. Potluck, catering, frozen food, canned food, and fast food will be banned, and all the delicacies in the world – crabs, lobsters, abalone, bird’s nest soup, shark’s fin soup - are available.