Still, There is Room

Still, There is Room

The Great Banquet of the Lord

Our Word today is from Luke chapter 14 and I would like us to  focus upon the activities and actions of a humble slave; a servant.  And although this passage is ripe with encouragement, rebuke, and revelation – the whole exists to inform and instruct you and I about the duties of a slave.  The name of slave, by the way,  is Me.

Although my detailed instruction spans Luke 14:14- 24, we must understand context for any passage we examine.  And so we must back up – beginning at verse one – in order to create a framework for all that follows.  What can we learn from verse one?

  • Jesus has been invited to dine with a big name religious leader
  • The dinner takes place on the Sabboth
  • And Christ was being scrutinized

Verse 2 shows a  man suffering from dropsy in placed directly front of Jesus.  (Sidebar here: the KJV and NASB are word-for-word translations and properly term his man’s disease as  dropsy.   The NIV is a dynamic translation, which means it adds explanatory content to help our understanding.  In the NIV you will see the man’s disease explained as an abnormal swelling.  No need to get all weird and into “the King James is the only translation, because the NIV adds words.”  Of course it does.  That is the intention of the translators – they clarify that dropsy is an abnormal swelling.  Personally I find that helpful.  But please know that all my personal study is done in either the KJV or the NASB)

oops…  rabbit hole.

The question that comes to mind is how did this sick man get there?  Why was he there and placed in directly in front of Christ?  Was he a plant; someone being used to test Jesus?  Remember the religious leaders were  watching him closely.  One other point.   The only way for any of us to be healed is to place ourselves directly in front of Jesus, as this man did.  You cannot be served and you cannot serve until you are facing Jesus – Amen?   So in verse 3 Jesus approaches the Host and his lawyer cronies with a direct religious challenge – pointed at their professional area of expertise:

  • “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?”

But they kept silent.  Nice.  So Christ heals the man and sends Him away.  That He sends him away is not to suggest He dismissed the man or told him to get lost.  But like the demonic man from the Gerasenes, Jesus commissions those He heals to proclaim what God has done for them.  Mark 5:19-20 records Christ’s instructions:

  • Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.  So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”  

When God heals you and I, we have something to crow about – and so He sends us away to tell the story.  The man was healed as he was there in front of Jesus.  What was the reaction of the spiritual leaders gathered there?   Remember in your study of the Bible it is often important to notice what is NOT said.  Doctor Luke records no descriptions of awe or wonder by the religious leaders – they still sit silent.  Does Jesus just let that go?  No, not at all.  He tries again.   It is a critical lesson for us not to tire and give up because people are stubborn; Christ’s example is to keep on trying – to keep working to save the souls of those who do not believe; don’t give up on friends and family.  What does Jesus do?   He offers a heart challenge –  He strikes at the very center of all rational human relationship and at the obligations of Godly animal husbandry:

  • “Which one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?”  

I like how the NIV records their response:  “They had nothing to say.”  Really?  Is it possible that any parent, in any culture, within any faith tradition should fail to respond quickly to this question?   They had nothing to say.  So what does Jesus do? Does He leave this unattended – no he does not – in fact he does two things – two rebukes.

Two rebukes which identify two deceptions

The target of His discourse in verses 7-11 is first those who attend the gala and then to the Host and leader of the religious folk in attendance.  These two strong rebukes can be summarized as follows:  Jesus points out the deception of (1) living a life of Pride and the deception of (2) living a life of Service to Self.  Both of these are evil deceptions – offering only temporary fulfillment.  And the learning for those on the Jesus Path is found in the photo-negative of Pride and Service to Self.  Believers should demonstrate (1) Humility and (2) Service to Others.  These two are the anecdotes to pride and selfishness and are the foundation of understanding all that follows.  

The springboard verse into a key learning

Note now how the Word transitions into the main discourse.  Check out verse 15:

  • “And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him,  Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God “

On the surface this sound really nice – but not really.  This is NOT the voice of a life of humility and service to others.  This is the voice of the comfortable believer – of the Sunday seat warmer.  This comment shouts out: “Ive got mine!” – “I’m IN” what a great time heaven will be!  It says that this person “heard these things” and yet his statement ignores Jesus’ plea to get to work inviting the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.  This person basks in the reward saved up for those who actually do the work – but without the effort.  It is lofty, it is sanctimonious – he may as well said “blessed be me.”  The Godly reply to “Having heard these things” is not to remark about those who are IN – but to grieve and strive to save those who are WITHOUT.

Let’s check out verse 16.  “Jesus replied.”   Okay.  Stop right there.   This makes it clear Christ is answering the dulsitory and sanctimonious drivel the lame-o person’s  proclamation above  (the one sitting comfortably warming the Church pew) and He replaces by outlining the responsibilities and responses of a faithful servant (or NIV=slave) as illustrated in the slave’s interactions with the Master and Host of a great Banquet.  Let’s start verse 16 again.

  • Jesus replied,  a certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests.

Okay, stop right there.  It is important to recognize from the get-go that “certain Man” in this story is God Himself; that the banquet hall is His heavenly kingdom and that there are many guests invited to the banquet (like all of humanity.)  But what happens?

  • At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

Isn’t that curious to you?  A great banquet, many invitations, many guests and no one is there at the time of the banquet.  Not one person is on time.  Its the dinner hour – the guests should already be there.  Lets make another observation right here:  How many slaves does He send?  ONE.  He sends one.  Right away my Friend, you and I are to understand clearly that it is you and I that God is sending out – that the name of the slave is Me.  This is not a case of waiting around for someone else to do it.  If you are the servant of the Most High God – then you are to go.  What happens next is that the slave (named Me) encounters three excuses.

The Fallen Angel behind the Three Excuses

If we are to understand the elegance of Jesus’ choice of these three excuses we must examine a verse from First John which spells out the tactics of the fallen angel in his temptations of the Invitees:

  • For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world – 1 John 2:16

Lust of the flesh (the sensual), Lust of the Eye (looking ahead, prospects for the future, looking for future glory), and the boastful pride of life (counting yourself too highly).  We take these three excuses and will find they fit each of these three categories.  

  • (v18) The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’
    • Of course he’s already looked at the land if he bought it – so his looking at it again reveals his character.  I am a landowner, I have my possessions – I am so enthralled with my possessions I have no need of God – this is the boastful pride of life
  • (v19)  And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused’
    • This one reveals his excitement about what is coming in the future because of his new oxen – he is looking ahead – I must prove and test my theory that my oxen are going to give me increase for tomorrow. My plans will change my world – my future is bright – I live for tomorrow.  This is the lust of the eye.
  • (v20) Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.
    • His concerns are selfish and sensual.  My desires come first.  I live for my cravings. I cannot come to God banquet because I am so wrapped up in myself.  Note too, where the others were half-way polite, each saying “please consider me excused” The self-indulgent sensualist flat says I can’t come. This is lust of the flesh.

Before we leave this topic, let’s see two other places where these three show as direct temptations from the fallen angel and his crowd.  The two examples are Eve in the garden, and Jesus being tempted after His time in the wilderness.

  • Lust of the Flesh
    • When the woman saw that the tree was good for food
    • And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread
  • Lust of the Eye
    • and that it was a delight to the eyes,
    • Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
  • Boastful Pride of Life
    • and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate
    • And Satan unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.  Can assay this temptation?  All the people down below in the crowded Temple Grounds would see Jesus hurling down only to be caught up safely.  How people would admire Him!

Okay we learn here that the three excuses line up with the three principal approaches the fallen angel and his crowd use against us.  Point is you can bet that the stuff you are tempted about fall into one or more of these three categories.  Lets rejoin the story at verse 21 – the slave returns and reports the three excuses to the Master.

  • And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city.

Notice the urgency – Go out at once. The Master is talking to you and I here. We tend to dilly-dally when it comes to seeking to invite the lost to the Banquet.  (When is the last time you invited someone to Church or a Bible study? – Never is not a good answer.)   Note here to that the Master directs the slave to the streets and to the lanes – to the everyday places you are going to bump into people.  God is showing you and I where to look for the lost.   At this point, something very critical happens.  The Master adds four categories of people his slave (named Me) are to bring to the banquet.

  • The poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame

Now most certainly our aim at Restart Church is be a safe place for such as these.  Look back at verse 13 and tell me what you find.  These are same four groups Jesus spoke to the Pharisee about.  But I have an important learning I wish to pass along.  For although each of these physical conditions deserve and require out utmost attention, they also represent four types of personalities the slave (named Me) are going to encounter during our efforts to invite people to the banquet.

The Four Personalities

We will end this lesson by evaluating six personalities, but here are the first four Jesus speaks to us about.

  • The Poor – Those with vague concepts of spirituality.   They are attracted by worldly philosophy and mysticism – they are impressionable.  They know there is something more, but float among various religious systems; they are seekers. Vaguely spiritual, but are bankrupt in their beliefs.
  • The Crippled.  Those wounded by religion.   Who’ve had honest to goodness bad experiences with people who call themselves Christian.  These are the ones who say if that’s what Christians are about then forget it – thats not for me.
  • The Blind. Those who refuse to see, lost in ambition.  They refuse to see, their entire focus solely upon their own ambitions, their own indulgences – they want nothing to do with God because it would mean changing the way they live – interfering with their life.
  • The Lame. Those who cannot move.  They have perhaps heard the message, but they lack courage and resolve to leave the familiar patterns of their life;  the safety of their current place is sufficient.  They suffer from paralysis by analysis.

The slave takes the command from the Master to fetch in the poor, crippled, blind and lame and returns to report.  Look at verse 22.

  • ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but still there is room’

Notice he says still there is room and yet it’s not until the next verse that we learn it is the masters great aim fill his banquet hall.  Do you see that? The slave’s remark shows how attentive the slave is to the desires of the master – He knows the Master’s heart.  Such should we be.  And how does the Lord rely?

  • And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges

Lets stop right there.  To those on the highways and in the hedges.  Who are these people?

  • In the Highways.  Those who are too busy for God.  The person who streams right by unnoticed and unnoticing. They are the ones who say there is not enough time in the day to go to church – not enough time for individual bible study, for intentional, private pray nor to serve others out of their giftedness.  They are too busy for God and grow honestly fatigued by all their earthly pursuits.  All they can do is crash on the couch with a beer when they get home.  People on the highway are too busy for God and the slave (named Me) must prepare to meet this person and encourage them onto the Jesus Path
  • In the Hedges. Those entangled with life circumstance.  What is a hedge – but a barrier, a thicket.  God’s invitees living in the hedges are entangled and consumed with the worries and doubts of daily living.  They live overwhelmed, and underpowered against the daily struggles and conflicts.  Their worries and concerns insulate them from the Truth

My Final and Most Critical Point

Let’s return to verse 23.  Now comes a phrase that is the most important point I hope to convey.  It is this last phrase which motivated me to lay this entire sermon before you:

  • And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled

The servant (named Me) is commanded to COMPEL the invitees to come to the Master’s banquet.  In my way of thinking there are only two ways one person can compel another.

  • First, by living an example, that our life itself will be a story of the Christ, a story worth telling
  • Second, by speaking boldly and directly to people

Both of these takes courage. Yeah it does. Now listen. Do you think that God would command you to do something that you cannot do?  Don’t say “I’m not that type of person to talk to strangers about God.” – that thought comes straight from the PIT OF HELL – it reeks of sulphur.  God commands you and I to “go out at once” – and He will not ask you to do what you cannot do.  The slave went out at the beckoning of His Master – he obeyed; he did as he was told – So must we!

  • For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes – Romans 1:16

It is the Power of God – it is the Power of God . When you go and speak to a stranger – do you think it’s just you and that person? NO!   IT IS THE POWER OF GOD you carry to them.  That is what you bring with you.

  • The Master’s Goal
    • “That My house may be full”
  • The slave’s reply
    • “And still there is room…”

Let us be counted as obedient  slaves, as good and faithful servants of the Most High!  May the Lord Bless You as You Go!   STILL, THERE IS ROOM
  

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