Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday, 20 September 2013 ~ Roxie

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is
Today's scripture focus: Luke 14:15-24

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Looking a little deeper into this parable has really opened my eyes to what has happened here. Call me slow, call me too distracted to think deeply...but today, today, I looked and learned!!

Like we have already read in previous posts, Jesus has been invited to eat in the home of a Pharisee. As he is sharing the meal with these highly learned men, he is teaching, often in response to questions or comments his fellow suppers have asked or made. I reread this passage after I did a little research and couldn't help but cringe when I read the opening comment made by one of these learned men:

“Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

This man, well versed in Scripture, is speaking, thinking about passages like Isaiah 25:6-9, which reads:

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
    a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
    the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
    the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
    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.

...and he believes that this banquet is for him and all those who follow the "law" as it has been set out by the high priests...those with whom he dines. These scholars believe their invitations have been received and, through their family lines and pious lives, they have RSVP'd. Jesus' response is highly unexpected...and, once again, a wee bit snarky (ok, a LOT) to those providing him a meal.

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.

Monday's scripture focus: Luke 14:25-35
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:

1 comment:

Tammy said...

One thing that struck me too is how certain the Pharisees were that they were going to be at that heavenly feast, yet Jesus told them in no uncertain terms that no, they would not be there.

They are many people today who claim Christianity yet are not genuine believers - often because they have not heard an accurate gospel message, or have misunderstood it, or are simply making really bad assumptions.

Are you sure you're going to the feast? You need to be sure!