HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 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. 21 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.–Luke 14:17-18, 21
The Peril of the Neglected Invitation
At the table of the chief Pharisee, where Jesus was reclining when He spoke this parable, the guests were almost without exception His enemies in disguise. But there was one man among them who was favourably inclined to Jesus. He had been impressed, in spite of his prejudices, by the lofty teaching of the young prophet. So strong, indeed, had the impression been that to the great amazement of his fellow-guests he cried out when Jesus had finished speaking, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” Now there can be no doubt that the speaker was blessing himself. It never occurred to him to question for a moment that he would share in the feasting of the kingdom. Christ, therefore, turns to him and addresses to him the parable of the Great Supper. It was meant to rouse that guest out of his self-complacency. It comes with the same message to you and me. There are few perils so great and so unnoticed as the peril of the neglected invitation.
A certain man, then, said our Lord, made a great supper. He sent his invitations for it freely. And when the table was served, and everything was ready, he despatched his servant with a courteous reminder, in accordance with an old custom of the East (Proverbs 9:3), which, as the travellers tell us, has not yet quite died out. But with one voice all the guests begged off. They were all busy–might they not be excused? And there was nothing for it but for the servant to go home again and tell his master that they refused to come. Then the master was angry at his slighted welcome, for he saw clearly what the excuses implied. So he sent out his servant into the streets and lanes and bade call in the poor and the blind and the lame, homeless, and we know that in the streets of Eastern cities a man does not walk far to light on these. It was done quickly; so quickly indeed that some would have it that the servant had anticipated his master’s wish. But even yet, so spacious was the chamber, the places at the table were not all lull. “Away then, out through the city gates!” cries out the host. “Away to the country roads, and to the hedge-banks, and compel the waifs and the vagrants to come in.” And I dare say the servant, looking through the hedges, saw the first guest, who had excused himself, strutting and fussing in his new piece of ground. But the house of the entertainer was filled at last. The door was shut, and the glad feast began. I wonder if the man who sat at the table with Jesus, and to whom this wonderful parable was spoken–I wonder if he was as ready now with his self-satisfied ejaculation, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW …..