Invitations – By Matt Miller

In Luke 14, we find Jesus eating on the Sabbath day in the house of a Pharisee. During this scene, Luke provides us with several points where it appears Jesus tested the Pharisees and taught them things which were transformative to their thinking, if they understood what He was telling them. In the context here, Jesus uses the teaching of the donkey or ox in the ditch to cause them to think harder about the legality of healing another on the Sabbath. He also instructs them to invite the poor to their feasts rather than those able to repay the invitation, along with other teachings. It is here that we find Jesus challenge the thought of his day, and sadly a thought that prevails yet today. Notice what one of them says to Him – [Luk 14:15 NKJV] 15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed [is] he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

This statement provides Jesus an opportunity to demonstrate that many of His day, as well as our day are neglecting the invitation of the Lord to be His guests eternally.

[Luk 14:16-24 NKJV] 16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 “and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 “But they all with one [accord] began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 “And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 “So that servant came and reported these things to his master. 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 here [the] poor and [the] maimed and [the] lame and [the] blind.’ 22 “And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 “Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 ‘For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ ”

God had been preparing Israel since the Exodus (really even before this) to receive His invitation to be reconciled to God and have eternal life. Eternal life in His presence was always the goal of God’s plan. Now that Jesus was walking among them, the Jews of His day were rejecting Him and rejecting the invitation to be at the feast. They were the ones making excuses, saying all the while “I cannot come.”

We see in this a frustration of God in the case of the master’s frustration at his invited guests. So he invites others. All the others. Types of people which the natural friends might not expect at the feast. Notice too that the master tells the servant to “Compel them to come in…”

It is instructive to consider from this parable that Jesus was telling the Jews that He has invited them as the natural friends and they were rejecting Him and His invitation. Further the invitation was going to be extended as broadly and widely as all the earth. To every creature (Matt 28:18-20).

We need to be responsive to the spiritual invitation of the Lord. The guests of the feast in the parable were concerned with natural things of an earthly nature. All of these are things which we naturally would engage in here on this earth. The first has a new piece of property which they must go inspect. Do we put things we have acquired or are seeking to acquire before our spiritual responsibilities?

The Second put the testing of his new oxen before the feast. How many people spend their time and energy to buy new toys or gadgets to engage in all manner of hobbies and recreation? The weekend comes and we find a couple of days of leisure on our hands. It is ours to do with as we please, and sadly too often, people choose to put their hobbies, their passions, their pursuits before service to God. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with engaging in many of these things, but so many in this world put these pursuits before their service to God, and when the season of such pursuits comes in view, God is moved out of their view and gets neglected.

Still others will take that which God has ordained and made to be centrally important in our lives – our family and will use that as our excuse for why we cannot come to the Lord or continue with Him in obedience.

Family can be our biggest help and also our biggest hindrance in serving the Lord. Each one of us needs to examine how we are being influenced by our family. If they are influencing us for good and helping us to prioritize spiritual things, this is right and they and we are putting our familial relation ship in Christ at the front of our relationship. Sadly, many will be influenced by family and familial cares to put other things before God and our duties as Christians. We must take special care in these relationships not to let them dominate our life and overtake our spiritual walk.

Finally, we must be prepared to respond to the Lord’s invitation. It isn’t just a onetime response to the Gospel. This is a continual prioritization of those things of a spiritual nature. We must prioritize Him and His word in our lives so that we can be constantly growing in maturity. We must prioritize serving Him over pleasures and pursuits. We must also be the servants out in the highways and hedges inviting others to the Master’s feast, so that His house will be filled. I guarantee we will not invite more than the Master has room for.

Do we understand that we are all the poor and lame and maimed who the master sent out the invitation to (beyond the Jews)? Do we understand that the master will not be patient for long and we must not reject His invitation? Do we understand that we must put priority on attending this feast, because the alternative is eternal destruction?