a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
This "certain man", the main character in this parable, has a reason to celebrate, but it is not shared with the readers. This man follows the customs of the time and sends out an invitation, to which he receives the positive replies from those he invites. Now knowing the number of people who will be attending this celebration, the preparations begin.
An animal is butchered; one large enough to feed the number of people who have said they would attend. Side dishes are prepared, succulent desserts baked just so. The banquet room is cleaned and decorated. The musicians tune their instruments and warm up their voices. The table is set. A servant is sent to proclaim the banquet ready so the guests will come and eat while the food is fresh and unspoiled.
And is met with excuse after excuse after excuse...all shocking insults to their friend who has invited them to celebrate with him. It is the magnitude of these insults that I never did quite understand...and makes me look a little deeper at my own responses to the invitations God makes in my life...
The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Seriously? He bought a field, sight unseen? He didn't check into the quality of the soil? The nature of the water supply? The presence of windbreaks or fences? According to an article by Matt Slick, this would have been an utter lie. Purchase negotiations would not have even been broached without a complete inspection of the property right down to a discussion of rainfall patterns. The slave would have known this was a lie as would the master of the house who had extended the invitation.
The second said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Once again, an outright lie, not disguised even a little. According to the same article by Matt Slick, the tradition of the day would have been akin to test driving a car. The owner would have even hooked them up to a plow for anyone interested in the purchase of the team to not only see them in action, but to put their hands on the plow and feel how they work and respond.
Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ Well, the wedding wouldn't have been on the same day as the man would have probably been invited to the elaborate event that a wedding would have been back then. While I have trouble envisioning this as a huge insult, I know that I think with a modern brain. There have been times when my hubby and I would sigh and wish we did not have to go anywhere because we felt like we had not seen each other for a long time-me with a day job; he on the fields sometimes until midnight. Perhaps this is what this newlywed felt?? However, he would have known that if the banquet was ready, the food would spoil if no guests showed up to eat it. No fridge, no freezer and a man who slaughtered a prized, well fattened animal the right size for the number of expected guests...what wife doesn't need a night out?? To get all gussied up and feel beautiful on her proud new hubby's arm??
All too often, I find it so easy to make excuses to not take time to worship, to study, to just be with my God, my Creator, my Saviour. I know this passage is talking about avoiding accepting the invitation to salvation that God extends to each and every person...and how easily the educated and the wealthy, those who feel they already "have it all together" can reject the invitation....that is far too often me, though just as often I am poor, crippled, blind and lame.
O how grateful I am that even the blind, the crippled, the lame, the poor are invited to the banquet! How beautiful to hear the call to feasting even as I wander! How amazing it is that "there is still room"...and even more so, that the Master of the house desires for His house to be full.
Thank You, God, for Your grace...and your compassion...and your invitation. May I learn to seek Your company always.