Missing The Great Banquet
30 AUGUST 2020 | Traditional Services
Rev Michael Tan
Scripture Passage: Luke 14:15-24 (NIV)
WATCH | SERMON (Video)
(Click on video below)
READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary | Luke 14 is an account of a dinner hosted by a leader of the Pharisees on the Sabbath. The Lord Jesus attended the meal even though He knew the host and others were there to scrutinize and criticize Him. There are 4 scenes relating to this dinner:
The Set-up (vv. 1-6) – the Pharisees were “religious purity freaks” who were extremely fussy about being religiously pure. Yet, they invited a man with dropsy. This person had an abnormal accumulation of body fluids and would have been viewed as ceremonially unclean (Lev. 15). He would have been barred from attending worship or interacting with other Jews. This was clearly a set-up. He asked the Pharisees if it was lawful to cure someone on the Sabbath (v. 3). They kept silent. However, Jesus proceeded to heal and restore the man. Jesus then reminded them that even on the Sabbath, they would not hesitate to rescue their loved ones or animals of value.
Humility (vv. 7-11) – Jesus noticed people vying for places of honour at the dinner. In Jewish formal gatherings, there are pre-arranged places of honour for those with a higher status. So, Jesus told a parable about someone suffering humiliation when he was ‘downgraded’ to a lowly seat. Conversely, the person who humbled himself was elevated in position. We are taught that true humility will precede honour.
Hospitality (vv. 12-14) – genuine hospitality does not expect to be reciprocated. Invite those who cannot repay the hospitality. On the day of the Lord’s return, God will reward acts of kindness and mercy in measures far greater than human can.
The Great Banquet (vv. 15-24) – the parable was told in response to someone at the dinner, who had repeated a statement that the Lord Himself had mentioned often in His teaching: “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (v. 15). The parable starts with the fact that this was not a last-minute banquet. Invitations and reminders were given ahead of time. Though the reasons for not attending (vv. 18-20) may appear reasonable, we find they are not valid excuses. The first relates to business. Would this person have bought land without first inspecting it? Therefore, this excuse is unconvincing. The second is linked to work or livelihood. Again, would the person have bought the oxen without “trying them out”? This is yet another feeble excuse. The third is a person using busyness of marriage as a reason for not attending the banquet. Surely his marriage was not at such short notice that he was unable to inform the host ahead of time. So this is another flimsy excuse. All these invitees showed contempt for the host. Not surprisingly, the host became angry and invitations were then given to the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame – all those who would never had an opportunity to attend a banquet. He invited these persons not because he did not want the food and preparation to go to waste. His true intentions as a genuine host are revealed in vv. 22-23. He wished to share all good things with others, regardless of their social status. The word “compel” or force shows how passionate the host is to bless others. This is the heartbeat of God, who desires all to have the gift of salvation. This is the invitation to ‘The Great Banquet’ which God would like us to respond to. The 3 responses we may have are:
- Recognise how precious we are in God’s sight. Even if we are at the fringe of society and not recognised by others, take heart that we have been included in God’s great banquet as His VIPs.
- Respond to the Good News. For those who have never accepted God’s invitation to accept Jesus as Saviour, be reminded that a response is needed.
- Real hosts bless and minister to others. We must be genuine in our hospitality and avoid the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. It is for God’s glory that we serve others.
(Sermon Notes by Angela Goh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
1. How do you usually decide to attend or not attend an invitation?
2. When you plan for a social gathering, who do you usually think of inviting? Why?
3. If you are presently holding an ‘honourable and respectable’ position/role, are you ‘more used’ to occupying ‘the seat of honour’ than the ‘lowest position’? Must one have a ‘formal title’ or ‘official recognition’ to make real and positive influence in the lives of people and situations around?
4. When we play host to others, we must be genuine in our hospitality and not be like Pharisees who are practising hypocrisy. Are you willing to consider extending hospitality to the least, last & lost as seen in ‘The Parable of the Great Banquet’? What about hosting ‘strangers’ as mentioned in Hebrews 13:1-2? Hebrews 13:1 & 2 say: “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
5. We are reminded of Jesus’ words of assurance to trust God’s provision so as to have true priorities of life in Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” What are some of the material possessions, career/work and human relationships ‘often’ holding you back from experiencing Matthew 6: 33 as a blessed earthy reality that prepares us for the blissful eternal realm?
6. God is inviting you to His heavenly banquet where you are one of the VIPs, precious in His sight regardless of your social status. What might the Lord be saying to you? How would you like to respond to His invitations? How can you be His servant “compelling” others to come to His heavenly banquet?