Invitations

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
 
Praise God
Praise God that heaven is a reality. That the souls of those who die in Christ are made perfect and, following the resurrection of the body when Christ returns, we will be with him for all eternity. 1 Corinthians 15:12-49.
 
Acknowledge Sin
Acknowledge the sin of living with your head and heart too much in this world and not in the next. Pray that God would help you to seek the things that are above, as you await the glory. Colossians 3:1-4.



Please ask for the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Luke 14:12-24
Invitations
 
V12-14. Expand your invitation list.
Turning his attention from the guests who were clamouring to get the most prestigious couches, Jesus now speaks to the host. As ever, his point is directly expressed and simple – 'don't just invite people who you know will return the favour; reach out also to those who, because of their circumstances, can't.' The reason Jesus gives is heart-grabbing. "You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just." So, why restrict your invitations to those who can repay with material things on earth, when you can receive a reward of eternal blessing for inviting those who cannot. Note, Jesus is not talking about works that lead to salvation. He is speaking of what the godly are to do.
 
It would be easy to read this and move on, but to treat the blessing offered by God nonchalantly would be unwise.  We need to stop and think, because what Jesus is saying here is important. The question of our willingness to engage as; individuals, families, and a church, with people who are genuinely in need, needs to be asked.  It isn't something that Jesus disregarded and, as professing followers of his, we must have the same mind as him on these matters.  As the congregation develops and grows in Christ, we will experience an increasing desire to invite and embrace those who are not 'ready-made churchgoers'.
 
V15. An apparently encouraging statement.
Jesus' reference to the resurrection sparks a pious exclamation from one of the guests – "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" Was this a serious comment borne of genuine interest, or simply a platitude, something that someone might be expected to say? Again, the commentators are divided. Some think the man was sincere, based on the need to take care to think the best of what people say. They advocate that Jesus' response is given to show the man, and the others present, how to become truly righteous. Others see it as merely a religious statement, with the parable that follows as a challenge to everyone present not to refuse the invitation to believe in Jesus as the Messiah.  The man may have been sincere, but from what Jesus says, it is clear that whatever the man was trusting in, he was sincerely wrong. Without being cold and indifferent, we do need to use our spiritual common sense at times. It is better to pause and consider what is actually being said, before jumping in and immediately commending it.
 
V16. A Great Banquet.
A man once gave a great banquet - the term “man” is referencing God, obviously not his being, but his acting.  The story is simple; the banquet preparations are made; the invitations go out.  No one declines the request, but come the time for the banquet, and the servant is sent out to remind those invited to come, they all have reasons as to why they can't do so. Reasons that are properly understood to be excuses, because self-evidently, they don't want to come. So, the man, the host, angered by the response, sends his servant to invite those who know their need and will come. However, there is still room, so the servant is sent out again to “compel” people to come, so that the house will be filled. And what of those originally invited – they had made their choice; none of them would taste of the banquet.
 
Now let's delve deeper into the detail. There are two initial invitations. The first a general one, the second more specific. In terms of cultural custom, this was the practice; see Esther 5:8 and then 6:14. It seems from some historical writings that people did not attend a banquet unless they were invited twice.  The response to the first invitation may have been promising, but it's the second, 'it's time to come,' invitation which revealed what was really in the hearts of those invited.
 
V18. Here come the excuses.
Three excuses are highlighted because they are the most plausible in the range of possible excuses. In stating these, Jesus is covering any excuse that someone might use for rejecting him. The excuse-makers know, of course, that they are disingenuous. As the words are proceeding from their hearts, they know only too well that they are seeking to justify their refusal to come to the banquet. 
 
The first invitee pleads necessity. He is compelled to go and see his newly bought field. It is something he just has to go and do.  It's as if the field is in danger of getting up and walking away. So, he extends his excuse and does so politely. The second man, well, he has just bought five oxen, and he needs to go and see if they can actually do the job he has bought them to do. You would think that, before investing his money, the man would have made sure that the oxen would work together as a team, but he cites this as his reason and, like the first man, makes his apology politely. The third man isn't as polite; he is more direct. His issue is that he has just married, and although not stated, he might have appealed to the fact that Scripture says that a married man should be at home for the first year of his marriage, Deuteronomy 24:5. The only problem with that argument, had he cited it: the requirement speaks only to release from military service. Marriage certainly involves obligations, but it doesn't rule out the principle need in life – to believe in Christ and be with God. 
 
Whatever the excuse, and there is any number of them for not seeking Christ and his Kingdom first, they all amount to the same thing – rejection of God and his promised blessings.  It is staggering how people think that they can justify their dogmatic rejection of the gospel's free offer.  It is as though they feel entitled to a unique, special reason for refusing to confess their sin, and by repentance and faith come to Christ. Of course, some of the best excuse makers sit in church week in, week out. Fully engaged in going through the motions, but in terms of genuine heart-love for the Saviour and unquestioning obedience to him as Lord – 'well, there are things in my life that just need to get sorted first, and then...'
 
V21. The host's response.
The host isn't pleased and rightly so. Why should he be, given what he has done? So, the servant is sent out into the city to bring in those who know their poverty. And then, as word comes back that there is still room, the servant is sent out again, this time into the country to compel, in the sense of effectually calling, those he meets to come to the banquet.  Paul identifies these called ones in Ephesians 2:12 as people who previously were "alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world." The house will be filled.
 
What a wonderful encouragement to you and me. That, as we go out daily with the gospel, through our lives, lived in Christ, and our words that declare him as our Saviour, God will gather in his people.  Yes, there will be those who will refuse to hear the good news, and they will suffer the consequences of their hardened hearts, regardless of their excuses; but Christ will build his Church, and the Great Banquet will be full!



Sing with joy in our heart to the Lord.
Psalm 72C - Link to the words. Link to it being sung.



Store up the Word in your heart.
Luke 14:11 - "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,"
 

Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 102 - What do we pray for in the second request?
Answer - In the second request (which is, Your kingdom come) we pray that Satan's kingdom may be destroyed, that the kingdom of grace may be advanced and ourselves and others brought into it and kept in it; and that /Christ's return and/ the kingdom of glory may come quickly.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
 

Thank God.
Thank God that, by his grace, he opened your heart and mind to receive and embrace the invitation freely offered to you in the gospel.
Thank God that you will be present at the Great Banquet.
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew 
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC