Lessons: Proverbs 9:1-10, 1 John 3:13-18, Luke 14:15-24
Hymns: LSB 904, 510, 505, 563, 622, 683
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks by way of a Parable. Jesus spoke many parables, and He used somewhat real-life (but often exaggerated) stories to teach something about the Kingdom of God. In today’s parable—the Parable of the Great Banquet—Jesus speaks of a man who prepared a banquet and invited many guests to his banquet, but the first group made excuses. The man got angry and told his servants to go out and invite anyone until the banquet hall is filled with guests.
Like most of our Lord’s parables, this one is quite rich and has many excellent applications. Let’s work our way through this parable.
First, the man prepares a banquet. Just think about the amount of work that goes into preparing a banquet. Of course, there’s the food. How much time does it take to prepare a wholesome, delicious banquet? I’m sure you can think of times when you thought a dish you were preparing would only take you 30 minutes and it turned out to take an hour. Or maybe a 60-minute dish took two hours. And that isn’t even a banquet! It’s just the dinner meal prepared for your family. This man is throwing a banquet for many, many guests. Lots of food. But not just food, but also the venue needs to be cleaned and decorated and everything must be just so.
Why the work? He wants to honor his guests. He is not trying to bribe his guests with a timeshare sale, but he is simply doing this out of the goodness of his heart.
Such it is in the Kingdom of God. After mankind rebelled by disobeying God’s Word and eating the forbidden fruit, God promised a Savior. Much planning went into His arrival. God did this completely by grace. Everything had to be just so at the right time for the Gospel to spread efficiently. So, for over 4000 years, the Prophets prophesied our Lord’s coming. They gave additional details on who Jesus is and what He will do when He comes to take away the world’s sin.
Then Jesus came and fulfilled everything that was written of Him. All went according to God’s plan. Jesus came and paid for the sins of the world. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus instituted a new banquet—the Lord’s Supper—for Christians to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. This banquet feast serves as a foretaste of the great feast to come in Heaven.
Upon our Lord’s glorious resurrection, Jesus instructed His disciples to go everywhere to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invite them into His banquet feast—to feast on the saving Gospel—the Word and the Sacraments—and to do so in churches which God will establish. And so, this banquet feast continues.
And like a banquet, much preparation goes into it. We Christians consider this church service to be a great banquet feast. And far more preparation goes into it than what we see from the surface for the short hour we are here. Some things are easy to see: the altar guild ensures candles have oil and the paraments and linens are all ready, the Elders set up for Communion, the organist prepares the music. The pastor selects the hymns and writes a sermon. Our building must be maintained. It takes a small army of people within our congregation to do all this! We are ever so grateful for the involvement of many.
And we can even further broaden the efforts that have gone into preparing today’s banquet. This sanctuary was built in 1965, and the oldest hymn we are singing today was written in the 15th century. This means generations of saints have labored so that all things are now ready in today’s banquet feast. Really, today’s Divine Service has been in preparation since the Gospel was first promised to Adam and Eve.
So how did those who were invited respond? Well, they were unimpressed. They figured they had better things to do. They made excuses. They didn’t know the effort that went into preparing the banquet or how important the man viewed his guests. I’m sure you can all recall times when your wives or mothers put a lot of effort into preparing a favorite dish of hers, and you weren’t all that impressed. She may feel like hours were wasted and you would have been happier going to Maid-Rite. The one who goes through such a great effort may be left hurt or angry, as the man in today’s parable felt.
Considering all the preparations God has done for us, how can we not but receive His invitation with joy? How can we not but gladly hear the Word of God and keep it? God has blessed us with a banquet feast of the Gospel that is worth more than the world’s wealth. The forgiveness of sins is granted to us here. And with the forgiveness of sins comes eternal life and salvation. God is showering us with His love. We have peace with God. Knowing that God offers us these things right here, we confess with the psalmist, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘let us go to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1).
We talked about this some in Bible study this past Wednesday. One awesome aspect of Bible study is that you may ask questions. In the Divine Service, it would be disorderly if people would interrupt with their questions. But in Bible study it is good and welcomed. On Wednesday, we discussed the proper source for happy or joyful feelings that arise from being a Christian. Surely, they can come from music or in satisfaction over doing a good work. But the true joy comes from the message of the Gospel. God has reconciled us sinners to Himself and opened the gates of Paradise to us, despite our rebellion. This should make us joyful! Yet, we often grow tired of such truths. We feel they become stale; old news; and we want to move on to what we think might be better. But how can we improve upon the salvation offered by God? We can’t. Yet we’re tempted turn to those things which make us feel better. Like those who made excuses in today’s parable, many do so today. Instead of being joyful for having received the banquet invitation, many people yawn at what takes place here, supposing they don’t need it or could find an improved version elsewhere. Coming up with excuses, they forfeit their grand inheritance and blessed adoption into God’s family. In today’s parable, they sought after inferior things offered by the world. One man wanted to see his field he just bought. Another wanted to test out those new oxen. The last one, a newlywed, wanted time with his wife. So, they all declined the invitation, thinking they were fine without it.
Such is the way for those who figure they may bypass God’s invitation of the Gospel. They think they’re fine without it, but they don’t realize they will suffer in the eternal fires of Hell. While they thought they were gaining something good the world had to offer, in the end they lose not only the blessed gift of eternal bliss, but they also lose the good the world has to offer. They are left with nothing.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is very enticing to go after all that the world waves before our eyes and figure the whole Jesus thing can be sought after another time. But now is the time of salvation. Jesus is offering you entrance into His kingdom now. Receive it before it is too late.
For the man got angry at those who declined his invitation. He didn’t waste his time on them. He moved on. Historically, Jesus is speaking here of the Jewish people during the first century. While some believed in Jesus and were saved, many did not. They rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah. And so, God instructed the Apostles to venture out further, beyond the Jews, to people of all nations. For Jesus did not just die as the Savior of one nation, but Jesus died as the Savior of all nations. Jesus is, after all, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). And so, this Gospel is available to all—Jews and Gentiles, male and female, young and old, good and bad, whole and maimed. For when Jesus went to the cross and rendered His holy precious Blood and innocent life as the ransom payment, He did so for all people and all sin. This means that Jesus even paid for the sins of the addicted, cohabitors, murderers, abortionists—even despisers of the Gospel—you name it. He calls on them to feast on His Gospel in repentance, turning away from their former conduct.
In the end, the man throwing the banquet is pleased. His hall is filled with guests. They are grateful to have received the free feast. God is glad to have you as one of His guests. He rejoices that you have been baptized into His family. He is grateful to receive you into His Kingdom. He is pleased that you are a recipient of the saving Gospel.
Our Triune God wants you here. He wants you to hear His true Word, to confess your sins and receive the Absolution, to sing His praises, and to feast on the Body and Blood of Jesus. In all of this, God is working saving faith in you, blessing you with the forgiveness of sins Jesus earned for you on the cross, and serving you a banquet that has eternal blessings, far outweighing anything the world has to offer.
He not only wants this for you, but for all people. So go invite them to receive these eternal treasures.
The man in today’s parable who gave a great banquet is Jesus. The servants are those who tell the Good News of Jesus to others—pastors, parents, neighbors, friends—you—inviting others to hear this blessed Gospel. Those who make excuses are those who figure the Gospel is not as precious as the things of the world. And the poor, the crippled, the blind and lame are you. You’ve been beaten up from the world’s corruption and from your own sin. And God in His mercy has chosen you to be His guest. He loves you and you are blessed to taste His banquet—the Word, Baptism, the Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper. Come, for everything is now ready. For you. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen