Summary: God’s invitation to the Great Feast (God’s kingdom) is free but it is costly as it demands that we put Jesus above all else.
We continue this second week of our 40 day journey through Lent as we walk with Jesus to the cross. Last week I reminded us of the scripture passage from Luke 9:51 which said “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Jesus, knowing full well what would happen to him in Jerusalem; rejected, beaten, flogged, and crucified, yet he resolutely set his face toward his destiny in Jerusalem because he knew it was the only way for us to find forgiveness of our sin and to have peace with God. During this journey Jesus gave some of his most difficult teaching. Last week we looked at what true repentance is, turning away from our sin, to a new way of life in Jesus Christ. True repentance is demonstrated by a change in our life.
The Invitation - The invitation to God’s Great Feast is offered to any who are willing to receive
In this second teaching of Jesus on the way to the cross, we find him at the home of a religious leader, called a Pharisee, and it was the Sabbath, their holy day. Jesus had gathered along with several other Pharisees for dinner. As they gathered around a meal, breaking bread together Jesus decided to use it as a teaching moment. He began to teach them using meals or feasts as the example, v. 7-14. Jesus was great at that wasn’t he? He would take whatever was around him and turn it into a story to teach a valuable truth.
In this particular teaching Jesus was prompted by a man sitting around the table who said, “"Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God (v. 15)." What was this guy talking about? What feast was he making reference to?
In the OT God had spoken through the prophet Isaiah about a great feast God would one day provide in his kingdom for all those who trust in the Lord. Listen to Isaiah’s words:
Is 25:6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine-- the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.
One of God’s images in the Bible of the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God is a Great Feast, sitting around a table in God’s kingdom with the best of meat and the finest wines. The shroud of death would be lifted off the nations. He would wipe the tears from all faces, no more death, no more sadness. Doesn’t this sound wonderful? In the book of Revelation God calls this same feast the wedding feast of the Lamb. Who is the Lamb? Jesus. Jesus’ wedding feast is when he is reunited with his bride, the church, that’s us.
Listen to the way the book of Revelation describes this banquet in heaven.
Rev. 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? The Great Feast is the kingdom of heaven. In response to the man’s statement Jesus began teaching this parable on the great feast, which in reality is a reference to the feast in God’s kingdom, which by the way, we are able to have a taste of right now, here on earth.
In Jesus’ parable, a man was preparing a great feast and he sent out many invitations. It would be similar to us sending our invitations to a party requesting people to RSVP to see how many people were going to come. Apparently many responded positively that they were planning on coming, because he made a huge feast, lots of great food and drink plenty for everyone who had been invited. When all the preparations had been made he sent his servant out again with a second round of invitations to let them know exactly when to come to the feast. But what happened? Those who had RSVP’d and said they were coming changed their mind and decided there were more important things going on in their life than coming to this feast. They made excuses for not coming: one made the excuse that he had bought a field and wanted to inspect it, another excused himself because he had just bought five pair of oxen and wanted to try them out, while another had just gotten married, I suppose this party interfered with his wife’s plans for the evening.