Summary: Jesus used a parable regarding a great supper to illustrate the eternal truths of salvation. In this parable, He emphasized our responsibility in reaching the unsaved. We must be willing to go into the highways and hedges of life, compelling them to come.
Go! Compel them to Come In
Our text verse comes from a parable of our Lord, where once again He addressed the hypocrisy and self-righteous arrogance of the Pharisees. Having dealt with their teachings regarding the Sabbath and their desire for recognition, one of them spoke of the blessedness of having the privilege of eating bread within the Kingdom of God. Jesus seized this opportunity to deal with the eternal matters of salvation and the responsibilities associated with salvation.
While Jesus revealed much regarding the doctrines of salvation within this parable, I want to focus on our text verse and the how it relates to our obligations as believers. Those who are in Christ, saved by His grace and pardoned from condemnation, should have a compelling desire to reach those who are yet to receive salvation. I will admit, this verse brought deep conviction to my heart as I prepared this message.
I trust the Lord will deal with our hearts as we examine the aspects of this command. I want to preach on the thought: Go! Compel them to Come In.
I. The Details within the Command (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. Our text is set within the context of a great supper. The master of the house had prepared a great feast, and most of the invited guests made excuses and asked to be excused from the feast. Determined to see people enjoy the meal, the master bade his servant find those to fill the house. With that context in mind, consider:
A. The Place Described – Had we taken the time to read the entire parable, we would have learned that the servant had already searched the streets and lanes of the city, and yet there was room for more (V.21.) The master then bade the servant to go out into the highways and hedges to find additional guests for the great feast. No doubt the servant may have known where to search, but he was not as familiar with the highways and hedges surrounding the city in the outlying areas. Nevertheless, at the master’s command, the servant searched the highways and hedges, determined to find additional guests for the feast.
Considering our responsibility to reach those who have yet to be saved, this presents a sobering challenge. We usually don’t mind serving the Lord in those places that are familiar, the streets and lanes of our towns or communities, but that alone in never enough. We cannot be content to seek out those, solely within our areas of comfort. We too must be willing to go out into the highways and hedges, wherever the lost and perishing exist!
B. The People Desired (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. Did you notice whom the master bade the servant to invite? He was sent out to compel “them” to come in. There is no description given, no prerequisites established. This was an open invitation for those the servant encountered, whoever they were. (Praise the Lord we serve One who compels all to come – whosoever will!) However, we do need to realize, those the servant encountered in the highways and hedges would have been considered “undesirable” by the Pharisees, and the majority at large. The master was unconcerned with their credentials or background; he wanted guests to enjoy his feast.
As I pondered those the servant would have encountered, I imagined how some of them may have been. He likely encountered:
1. The Desperate – We do know he had invited those within the city who were poor, maimed, halt, and blind, V.21. If these were present in the city, it stands to reason they would have existed in the highways and hedges as well. We too encounter many who are desperate today. They are separated from God in sin, and seeking a means of hope. We must seek them out and share the Gospel with them!
2. The Defiant – The highways and hedges were frequented by bandits and robbers, those who purposely chose to live a life of rebellion. Surely the servant encountered some of these along the way. Our world is filled with those who are living their lives the way they choose. They see no need of Christ and are uninterested in the Gospel. However, they are included in the “them” of the text. They may refuse our invitation, but that doesn’t excuse us from sharing our faith! In fact, if we are rejected the first time, we must be willing to go again, and again if necessary.