Thesis: The messianic banquet has begun; the invitation must not be refused.
1. Years ago I heard that there was a tremendous emphasis on eating, drinking, and banqueting in the Gospel of Luke.
a. This past week I counted them .... 32! (more than 1x per chapter)
b. Every time you turn around in the Gospel of Luke Jesus is either talking about eating or he's eating at somebody's house somewhere!
c. Not a coincidence. It's also not a coincidence that some of the most important teachings Jesus gives in Luke are set at dinner parties!
2. That's the case with the story we want to explore this AM.
a. Really a story within a story--Jesus tells a parable about a dinner while he's at a dinner in the home of a prominent Pharisee.
b. The story is found in Luke 14.
I. READING THE TEXT. < Pausing to comment after ... >
A. VERSE 1: Jesus "was being carefully watched." Have you ever been to a dinner like that? (Not a pleasant experience! Think Jesus is uneasy?)
B. VERSE 6:
1. Literally, "they were powerless to reply."
2. Getting the impression that the atmosphere is getting a little tense?
3. Jesus doesn't ease the tension--makes it worse!
C. VERSE 11: I think we have an insight here as to what was going on at this dinner party!
D. VERSE 14:
1. Want to guess who was NOT at this Pharisee's dinner party?
a. Pharisees didn't associate with poor, crippled, lame, blind!
b. They never appeared on Pharisee guest lists!
c. By now the tension must have been unbearable!
2. It was just then that someone blurted out, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God!"
a. Nice attempt to calm atmosphere (all could agree on this!)
b. Common Jewish belief about heaven. (Big dinner party!).
c. When did this man think party would begin? (right/wrong?)
E. VERSE 17:
1. The two invitations may seem strange to us ... not to them.
a. Meat would have to be killed/cooked acc. to # of guests.
b. Number of guests determine main course: chicken to calf.
c. Preparations would be made on basis of # coming (RSVP).
d. When everything was ready everyone was summoned.
2. At this point, what would you expect to happen?
a. The dinner party would immediately begin!
b. But the story takes a strange turn ...
F. VERSE 20:
1. The Real Estate Expert: Bought property sight unseen!
2. The Farming Wizard: Bought oxen without testing them out!
3. Illust. These are incredible excuses! Ludicrous! It would be like buying a house over the phone today without ever seeing it or checking out the neighborhood. It would be like buying five used cars over the phone and you don't have a clue that they will even start!
4. The Passionate Newlywed: He had the best excuse of all!
G. VERSE 24:
1. The "master" (lit. "lord" 21a) becomes "owner of the house" (lit. "house-despot" 21b); he is angry!
a. His gracious invitation has been mocked!
b. Bumper sticker: "JESUS IS COMING! (and boy, is he ever mad!)"
2. There is an urgent invitation--to refuse it is to lose it (v. 24).
III. THREE SPIRITUAL LESSONS FROM THIS STORY.
A. God's banquet has begun!
1. Doesn't begin at the end of time--already begun in Christ!
2. Not literal banquet--it's something better.
a. "For the KOG is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace & joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17). b. The time is NOW! (love, joy, peace, celebration ...) God's banquet has already begun in Christ.
B. God makes the guest list, not us!
1. He sets the agenda ...... he calls the shots (no doubt we're in for some surprises!)
2. Isa. 25:6-9.
3. Who is on the Lord's guest list? ("ALL"--white/black; people with combined incomes greater than $60,000/people on welfare & WIC; married/divorced people; alleged anti-school lunch Republicans and tax-and-spend Democrats; Flaming religious liberals/moss-backed conservative stick-in-the-mud members of Church of Christ! We're all on it. Why? Because God makes the guest list, not us!
C. God's invitation can be refused!
1. How? (Maybe the question ought to be "Why?")
a. Look at the story Jesus told--look again at the real estate expert, farming wizard, newlywed.
b. They all thought that what they were already doing was more important! They were mistaken!
2. The invitation can be refused in another way--look again at the people Jesus first told the story to. (They were insiders)
a. Preoccupied with making up God's guest list.
b. Preoccupied with scrutinizing & criticizing other guests.
Conclusion: Will you accept the invitation? It's an open question. Reflect on it as we sing this song ...