Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our Lord was present at a banquet in the house of a Pharisee. In the verses before our text, it was evident that Jesus' host used to invite people who would return the invitation with another invitation. The true children of God do more than that.
“When you make lunch or dinner, do not call your friends, or your brothers, or your relatives, or rich neighbors; lest they, too, invite you again, and be rewarded for you. But when you make a feast, call the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind; and you will be blessed; because they can't reward you; for you will be rewarded in the resurrection of the righteous. "
One of the guests at the Pharisee's feast was deeply impressed by his allusion to the happiness that would be the lot of those who would be included in the resurrection of the righteous. Because the Pharisees thought of themselves as the righteous, not as spiritually blind and disabled men. The consummation of such glory filled him with a deep and burning longing for the blessings that could be expected in heaven.
It is clear that this listener had misunderstood Jesus. The word "blessed" (μακάριος or makarios in Greek) in the New Testament always denotes the redeemed believer's relationship with the Lord. It is true that Christians will be blessed in eternal life. But Jesus had meant more than that in verse 14. When Jesus came into the world, it was time for the great supper. What the Pharisees failed to see was the fact that this future kingdom of God asserts his claim over them right now in the person of Jesus Christ. With the coming of Jesus, He is the invitation to the banquet. Dismissing the invitation results in being excluded from God's great banquet.
Jesus, responding to this exclamation, addressed primarily the speaker, but also all the others who were gathered around the tables. Verses 16-22 cover the Old Testament period. Verses 18-20 record shallow and ridiculous excuses. Who would so foolishly buy a field without first examining it? Who would be foolish enough to buy a pair of oxen without first knowing what they looked like? The excuse of the third man in verse 20 clearly shows that this speaks of the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 24: 5 allowed a newly married man to be free from business for one year. That was civil law, not moral.
Through John the Baptist, God repeated the invitation that had been made by the prophets, that the time had come that all the patriarchs and prophets had waited for, that the kingdom of God had drawn near to them. Christ went to the children of the house of Israel. For them and their children, the promise was published first.
But Israel as a whole did not want any of the glorious news regarding his salvation, they rejected the invitation. Their minds were focused on earthly things, they expected a temporary kingdom from the Messiah. And their leaders, having a display of holiness, wore this as a cloak for their greed and their pursuit of pleasure. They despised and rejected the gospel of God's mercy in Christ Jesus.
This parable does not say that the Jews are no longer invited to partake of the Gospel banquet. It applies to us too. In the Apostolic Creed, we confess that we believe in the communion of saints. The phrase, communion of saints, has a double meaning. It refers to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, but also to the church. The Lord's Supper is the communion of saints, also the church is the communion of saints. To share food means community. Families share material bread at home. In the house of God, the family of the redeemed, those born of the water and the Word, share the bread and spiritual drink of the body and blood of Christ. We are members of this community by baptism that is intended to bring us to the Lord's table. And the Lord's table anticipates the final day every time we celebrate.
All who continue to decline the invitation will not taste dinner in this life or in the life to come. God is merciful to men out of love for Christ. But if a person does not want to come, it is their fault. The Lord has sincerely called and offers to all men the riches of his grace. Those who despise his calling will be excluded, through his own fault, from the joys of salvation, from the eternal supper of bliss in heaven.
To this day people make shallow and silly excuses like these. Sinful men foolishly reject God's invitations to the Gospel supper. Even then God keeps inviting them urgently. Those who are serious about the gospel are the afflicted and marginalized, not those who trust their own righteousness.
Therefore, verse 23 clearly denotes the mission of the church to all nations. Jesus, through his apostles, carried God's invitation to the Greco-Roman world. From all the nations of the world, the Lord now calls men to His great supper, so that they may receive the fullness of His goodness and mercy. In this truth, we have the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.
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