Jesus’ parable of the ‘Great Banquet’ in Luke 14:16-24 is a story about God’s great salvation. Heaven is like a wonderful dinner and we’re all invited. Here’s the story:
A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 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. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. (Luke 14:16-24)
Though all are invited to Heaven, not everyone will be there. This story tells us some things about God’s invitation?
Like the invitation in Jesus’ story, God’s invitation is broad (“He invited many”), free & abundant (“everything is ready now”). What a great picture of the abundant salvation God provides for everyone. Long before we thought of God, He thought of us and made provision for our salvation. All are welcome and invited. No one is too bad.
If you’re not familiar with the music of Korn, consider this: the Chicago Tribune called the rap-metal band “perverts, psychopaths, and paranoiacs.” The group’s songs — with titles like “Freak on a Leash” and “Make Me Bad” — often have lyrics that are sexually explicit and very, very dark. So you can imagine fans’ shock when, in 2005, the band released a statement informing the public that they had parted ways with their rock guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, “who has chosen the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior, and will be dedicating his musical pursuits to that end.” Though some thought it was a practical joke, Welch showed up to Valley Bible Fellowship the following Sunday and told the crowd of 10,000, “I am the happiest man in the world right now.”
Some think they are too bad to go to Heaven. However, this parable illustrates the fact that there is room for all. All you need to do is accept God’s invitation and receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.
Those who were first invited to the supper in Jesus’ parable made excuses not to attend the banquet. They are all flimsy excuses. Like these excuses (land, oxen, spouse), possessions and relationships are two excuses many use for refusing God’s salvation invitation. None of the excuses was sinful of itself. But they became wrong because they hindered acceptance to the invitation.
Here’s a funny story about excuses: A man who bought a brand new Mercedes got out on the interstate. It was a convertible and the top was down, the breeze was blowing through his hair, and he decided he would open it up to see what it could do. The needle hit 80 miles an hour, then 90, then 100, then 110, then 120, even 130. All of the sudden, he looked up in his rearview mirror and there was that flashing red and blue light right behind him. He said to himself, “They can’t catch this Mercedes.” He got it up to 150 mph, but the lights were still behind him. He thought to himself, “I’m going to be in big trouble if I don’t pull over.” So he did. Well, the police officer came up to him, took his license without saying a word, examined it, looked at the car and then said, “Mister, I’ve been working all night and this is my last pullover, and I’m exhausted. I don’t feel like filling out more paperwork, so I’m going to make you an offer. If you can give me an excuse for driving the way you were driving that I have never heard in my 27-year career, I’ll let you go.” The man thought fast and said, “Well, officer, last week my wife ran off with a police officer, and I was afraid that it was you trying to give her back!” The officer said, “Have a nice night.”
The real reason people refuse God’s invitation is because they do not want it. They would rather have their possessions and other relationships. When God invites you, don’t make excuses.
In Jesus’ story, since the feast was ready, the host invited the outcasts. These poor, crippled, blind and lame had excuses for not attending. They were pretty bad. But they all accepted the offer because of their need – they were hungry. God’s invitation is not based on anything in the recipients; it is based solely on the grace and goodness of God.
When I was in Korea, a Kyle, a foreign exchange student who had been at our church in Michigan, invited me to lunch with him and his mom. I had every reason to turn down the invitation. His mom didn’t speak English and I didn’t know Korean. I was flying out that day and couldn’t miss my flight. I don’t know if I really like authentic Korean food. But in spite of my excuses, the real question was, “Do I want to eat with them?” The answer was “YES” and so we had a wonderful meal.
The notion that a wealthy, prominent man would invite poor, despised outcasts to such a banquet was as ridiculous as imagining that the original guests would turn down his invitation as a group. There was not the slightest chance either would have happened, much less both. But it did. And it still does. Whatever God is inviting you to do, say YES. Say YES before He invites you.
Someone asked Emily Post (the etiquette lady) one time how to turn down an invitation to dinner at the White House if you had a previous engagement. Her reply was: “You don’t. An invitation from a head of State supersedes all previous engagements.” God has invited you to His “Salvation Supper.” It would be rude to turn Him down.