Great Storyteller The Great Feast

Tonight : Concluding series called ‘The Great Storyteller’ focusing in on the parables of Jesus

Throughout the parables of Jesus we find the great paradoxes of the Christian faith:: Give to receive. Die to live. Lose to win.

Overview of previous weeks:

Week 1 was the parable of the lost sons - AKA the prodigal son - The two sons struggling to understand the Fathers mercy.

Week 2 was the parable of the generous master - Where the day workers all got paid the same no matter how long they worked.

Week 3 was the parable of the persistent widow - Talking about having the faith to come to God again even if it feels like it’s not working

Week 4 was the parable of the seeds and weeds - Talking about how it’s the condition of your heart that determines if you remain or fall away in the Christian faith.

Week 5 was the parable of the Good Samaritan - Talking about how we treat the needy is ultimately how we treat God.

The Parable of the Great Banquet

This week: The Parable of the Great Banquet

I find this to be a fitting close to the series.


Luke 14:12-24

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. (Luke 14:12)

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, (Luke 14:13)

and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:14)

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 14:15)

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. (Luke 14:16)

At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ (Luke 14:17)

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ (Luke 14:18)

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ (Luke 14:19)

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ (Luke 14:20)

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ (Luke 14:21)

“ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ (Luke 14:22)

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. (Luke 14:23)

I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ ” (Luke 14:24)


Past 2 weeks - nation -- Exhausting.

I, for one, have found the past 2 weeks in this nation absolutely exhausting.

Of course we had to tragic shooting in Florida and with it always comes this onslaught of opinions and yelling and name calling that I find very exhausting and demoralizing.

Thinking about culture. Where our culture is and where our culture is going.

In so many ways we've turned the politicians into a type of charactature.

Where we place either unrealistic hope or unbelievable blame.

When we find our way back to reality - we remember that there's absolutely no reason for that kind of hope or that kind of blame.

I really believe that these politicians that come and say that they’re going to make everything better, it’s really just tiny little degrees of difference.

What’s most broken in the world is not having the wrong people in office. B/C I think all of politics as important as all that stuff is never really gets to the root issue which is the darkness of humanity without God.

And the Kingdom of God isn’t something that aligns with the left OR the right.

It’s completely OTHER.

When Jesus comes and says that he’s bringing about the Kingdom of God - He’s not just saying ‘I’m gonna come and bring inflation down’ or ‘I’m gonna bring about tax reform’. No, the Kingdom of God is a 180 degree shift. It’s something that the world has never seen.

God's way of rearranging a world gone wrong.

When Jesus describes the Kingdom of God (and that’s almost exclusively what Jesus talked about - The Kingdom of God) when he describes it, he tends to use metaphor

“The Kingdom of God is like :

Fishing / Sowing / Planting / Growing / Baking

The most common is the kingdom of God is like a table, or the Kingdom of God is like a party.

If Jesus is bringing a new kingdom and the kingdom is like a party, then the big question is this: “Who’s invited to the party?”


WTD: “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

If you’re taking notes I want you to write down this phrase: “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

Guess who’s coming to dinner was a 1967 movie.

Stars: Spenser Tracey, Katharine Hepburn, and Sidney Poitier.

It’s about a young white girl who is engaged to a young black doctor and she’s bringing her fiancé home to dinner with the parents.

This was a very provocative idea, especially in the 60’s.

And it was an important and influential film.


Tonight we’re dealing with a parable about a banquet that Jesus gives while at a banquet.

Jesus has been invited by one of the wealthy leaders of the pharisee party to a banquet, or party that he was hosting.

The Pharisees you could think of as a religious/political party. - They were the ‘take back Israel for God’ movement. - They began about 100 years before this.

The idea was that the messiah had still not come and the reason is that because people were not diligent in obeying the Torah. Which is the first 5 books of our Old Testament.

So the pharisees idea was they were going to be the people that are the most strict on obeying the Torah than anybody else. They tithed 10% on their spices.

And their hope was that was going to cause the messiah to come.

And they really targeted the outward sins - and they specifically targeted the prostitutes and the drunkards, and the sabbath breakers. All these outward ‘sinners’.

And so they were trying to reform society in this way in hopes that the messiah would come.

So Jesus accepted the invitation and he was there.

Now keep in mind that these pharisees did NOT believe that Jesus was the messiah, but they were watching him, waiting for him to make a mistake so they could expose him.

At one point during the party Jesus turns to the host and says :

… “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. (Luke 14:12)

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, (Luke 14:13)

and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:14)

Which seems right off the bat pretty combative, don’t you think.

A man has thrown a party for the uppity-ups of the community, and Jesus says to him ‘When you throw a party, don’t invite the unity-ups, instead invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.

I feel like Jesus really knew how to make a party awkward.

I’m sure you have all been to some get together and someone says something out of the blue that totally takes 100% of the fun out of the room. This is how I picture this happening. Jesus is at the party, insulting the party.

Because, see, the pharisees had very clear, well defined ideas for what the coming messiah would look like and who he would welcome in.

And they used this analogy of a feast too. From some of their ancient writings:

“And then the Messiah of Israel shall come, and the chiefs of the clans of Israel shall sit before him, each in the order of his dignity, according to his place in their camps and marches. And before them shall sit all the heads of families (Fathers) of the congregation, with the wise men of the holy congregation, each in the order of his dignity."

And then there’s this whole list of what order people would sit at the banquet of the messiah.

Of course, nowhere listed was non-jewish people, obviously.

But not just that, imperfect jews were also excluded.

That was true for moral Imperfection

So if you had a moral imperfection: You were a prostitute, you were a tax collector, you were a drunkard, you weren’t invited to the messiah’s banquet.

But it was true of psychical imperfection too.

“No one is allowed who is lame, or blind, or smitten in the flesh."

In other words, no one with disabilities were invited to the messiah’s banquet.

Seems like there were expecting it to be a banquet of perfect people.

Billboard / ad - church. You ever seen a billboard or some sort of ad for a church promoting themselves and it’s like everyone is gorgeous, and happy, and thin, and their teeth are white. - And it’s like their whole freakin church is made up of supermodels. And they’re happy all the time.

The church doesn’t look like that.

But the pharisees, that’s what they were expecting.

Well one of the guests says :

… “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 14:15)

So this is crazy, what’s happening is that the man is saying ‘I can’t wait to the great feast when the messiah comes. - Which is hilarious, b/c he’s saying it to Jesus. Who IS the messiah, but the man doesn’t know that. - The reason is this: Jesus was not the God they were expecting.


Jesus tells - story.

There was a man who gave a great banquet.

‘The Great Gatsby’ - F. Scott Fitzgerald?

Who here has read the book ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald?

Set in the 1920’s

Set around this man Jay Gatsby. Some of you may picture him like this (Leo pic)

He’s this multi-million dollar tycoon.

He lives on Long Island in NY.

And he throws these incredible parties at his huge mansion. And everybody loves to come.

That’s pretty much how this parable starts.

He’s invited all the prominent people of the community.

So they’ve grilled the meat, and set to table, or whatever

And when the banquet was ready, he sent out his servant to everyone who had been invited to tell them ‘The party’s ready, come on over.'

They didn’t have facebook to post an update on an event, so they had to go old-school.

So the servants aren’t going to strangers, they’re going to the people who have been invited.

So the servant goes to the 1st invited guest: “Come on, the party is ready.”

1st Guest

And the 1st invited guest says: Well… uhhh… gosh this is weird, but I’ve bought a field. But I haven’t seen it. So I have to go see it.

Now I might be alone in this, but I find this excuse exceedingly stupid. If he bought a field, why would he have not already seen it. And even if he HADN’T seen it, well what’s the crazy hurry that he can’t wait till the morning to go see it?

Most bible scholars think that these excuses are FAKE.

2nd Guest

So the servant goes to the 2nd invited guest: “Come on, the party is ready.”

And the 2nd invited guest says: Well… Geee… Wish I could, but darn it, as luck would have it, I just bought some Oxen - 5 yoke (AKA 10) of them. And uhhhh…. I need to go try them out.

Again, pretty dumb. Why can’t that wait till morning?

3rd Guest

So the servant goes to the 3rd invited guest: “Come on, the party is ready.”

And the 3rd guest says (and this is probably the worst excuse of them all)

Oh… uh… Funny you should mention that, I have married a wife.’

To which I say, so have a lot of us.

It’s not like they got married that day. This guy wouldn’t have a banquet on the same day as a wedding feast in town. And he says ‘Soooo…. Sorry I can’t come.'

Host - hears - everyone bailing.

So the host of the party hears that everyone is bailing on the party. So gets mad, and he says ‘Fine, here’s what I want you to do… Go back into the city and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

So the servant does this and he comes back and says ‘I did it, but there’s still room.'

So the master says :

“… ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. (Luke 14:23)

So to understand how controversial this is, keep in mind that Jesus is at a banquet with the elites who are sitting around talking about how great it will be once they’re at the banquet of the messiah.

And Jesus basically says ‘That party will be filled with the people you didn’t allow into this party.'

Again, awkward.

And then Jesus closes with this phrase:

I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ ” (Luke 14:24)


So what does the story mean?

Historically

Well of course historically it’s talking about these religious people assumed they were on the inside but by rejecting Jesus, they will find themselves on the outside.

The Kingdom of God had arrived, but by rejecting Jesus, they missed it.

Why did they miss it? B/C Jesus was not the kind of God they were expecting. - In 3 ways.

1. Jesus didn’t fit their religious moralism.

They believed that only morally perfect people would be invited to dinner.

But who is Jesus inviting? Sinners. - The worst of the worst.

And so the pharisees said ‘If those people are invited, I’m not coming.'

2. Jesus didn’t fit their social elitism.

They believed that the blind, and the lame, and the crippled and poor shouldn’t be invited.

But that’s exactly who he says is going to be at the messiah’s party.

Jesus is always going out of his way to specially say that he’s come for those exact people.

3. Jesus didn’t fit their political nationalism.

They believed God was only gonna come for Israel.

But Jesus is always making the samaritans (for example) the heroes of his parables.

Guess who’s coming to dinner? NOT the pharisees.

“… Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21:31)

Today

The Kingdom of God is not a sinners prayer and becoming a member of a church. Those are both perfectly good, but that’s not what the kingdom of God is.

It’s choosing to live under the rule reign and Jesus Christ. Where he is our king.

It means learning to look at the world a whole new way. And live life a whole new way.

Jesus :

And Jesus says it’s easier for some than others.

Specifically it’s very difficult if you’re rich and it’s very difficult if you’re proud.

Think of it like this: If you’re large and in-charge and everything’s going great, you might not be that interested in looking at the world in a whole new way.

This is essentially the people who make excuses for not coming to the party.

If you’re some rich wealthy guest invited to the party, you might think “Aww man!! Is that tonight?! I don’t want to go.. I’ll just call and make some excuse.” B/C I don’t want to have to give up what I’ve currently got going on here.

Imagine you live in the poorest, dirtiest, cockroach infested part of town… And Jay Gatsby’s limousine pulls up and says ‘Come on… There’s a party at the biggest mansion in town, and you’re invited.'

You might think “Oh haha. You don’t have to make fun of me. I know I’m poor.’ And the man says ‘No, I’m serious. You’re invited. If you’re willing to come, jump in.' You’d jump in.

Now you’ve got this huge mansion filled with prostitutes and drug addicts and the poorest of the poor, and they’re walking around with this fine china. Eating caviar and the best foods.

Jesus is saying ‘That’s what the kingdom of God is like.'

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”


Which brings us to Humility.

So long as you think you’re always right, always strong, never poor or weak, or brittle, you’re not going to feel the need to come to the party that is the kingdom of God. But when you remember your deep need, and your deep insufficiency apart from God, then and only then will you be able to hear and respond to the invitation of the Kingdom of God.

A theme that you constantly see in the teachings of Jesus is that, just like it says in James chapter 4

God resists the arrogant, but gives grace to the humble.

I feel like that's pretty strong language. Of all the stupid things I could do, and I could do a lot of them, it certainly appears that being arrogant is a bad choice.

Think - 1st week - series: Parable : two lost sons

And if you think of the 1st week of the series: The parable of the two lost sons, the younger son who has squandered his inheritance, and it living with the pigs, and he knows he needs grace, the parable ends with him inside enjoying the great feast. But the elder son, who has served his father his whole life, doesn’t need the fathers handouts, and the parable ends with him in his pride still outside with his fate undecided.

And he extends the same grace to both. Here’s one big difference: The younger, outwardly sinful son can swallow his pride, the elder, outwardly righteous son can’t.

And in the same way this parable - the invitation goes to both the wealthy and the poor, and the poor CAN swallow their pride and come to the party, meanwhile the wealthy and successful can't.

(Prepare - Communion)

Jesus’s invitation to his table is extended to YOU. But the question is: Are you able lay down your pride and receive the free gift?

Guess who’s NOT coming to dinner? The self-righteous, the self-satisfied, and those who are suspicious of outsiders.

Guess who IS coming to dinner? Those who consider themselves lucky just to be invited.


Closing

The Kingdom of God is like a lavish party for unlikely guests.

What God wants from you is a simple: YES.

As they pass - Spend a minute thinking about this gift of life. You didn't earn it, you don't deserve it, it was a gift, and for it we're eternally grateful.