Everyone loves to be invited to banquets, spending time with friends and family, talking and laughing, enjoying the best food you can imagine. When you are invited to a banquet and see that your schedule is clear, you put the details of the banquet on your calendar, set a reminder and begin making preparations to attend.
One of the pictures the Bible uses to describe those who will spend eternity with God in heaven is that of a large banquet. Jesus tells the Parable of the Large Banquet. After you read the parable, I’d like to share with you four observations.
15 When one of those who reclined at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “The one who will eat bread in the kingdom of God is blessed!”
16 Then He told him: “A man was giving a large banquet and invited many. 17 At the time of the banquet, he sent his slave to tell those who were invited, ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’ 18 “But without exception they all began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. I ask you to excuse me.’ 19 “Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m going to try them out. I ask you to excuse me.’ 20 “And another said, ‘I just got married, and therefore I’m unable to come.’
21 “So the slave came back and reported these things to his master. Then in anger, the master of the house told his slave, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind, and lame!’ 22 “‘Master,’ the slave said, ‘what you ordered has been done, and there’s still room.’ 23 “Then the master told the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and lanes and make them come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will enjoy my banquet!’”
Observation #1: God invites people to his banquet table. The banquet table represents eternal life with God. A banquet table is a place of friendship, fellowship and fun. God sends out his invitations far and wide to invite people to spend eternity with Him. In the first century culture, a master would send out an initial invitation so that people could make plans to attend — similar to the modern “save the date” invitations, with an RSVP required. The master would then buy the food and make all preparations for the banquet. After that, he would send out another round of invitations letting people know it is now time to arrive at the banquet.
My point is that God is the one who invites people to spend eternity with Him. Around the globe, at every point in history, He has been inviting people and is inviting people to repent of their sin, trust in Jesus for eternal life, and spend eternity with Him. God invites us. He uses people to deliver the message, but God is the one who sends the invitations.
Observation #2: The servants obey the instructions of the master. The servants get their instructions from their master and do what he asks them to do. When a servant is devoted to his master, he assumes the role of a slave, doing exactly what the master asks him to do, when the master asks him to do it, in the way the master wants it done. In a benevolent household, the servant does this with joy, because he knows the love and generosity that lives in the heart of the master.
Such is the case in this story. The servant (a Christ-follower) is asked by the master (God) to invite people to the banquet (eternal life with God in heaven). In this story, we see that God chooses to use us to help spread the good news that the banquet is ready and people can choose to come enjoy eternal fellowship with God.
Observation #3: There are some people who will not attend. Tragically, too many people make excuses of why they will not be attending the banquet. In the parable, one person had recently purchased a piece of property and wanted to go look at it, another had bought several yoke of oxen and wanted to test them out, and another had recently gotten married. These three individuals gave their excuses and refused to attend the banquet. The things of the world kept them from spending time with the generous banquet host. Their priorities were in the wrong place.
These people represent those who make excuses about why they will not become part of God’s family through Christ. Their priorities are in the wrong place. They do not realize that if they say “yes” to Jesus, He will forgive them of their sin, give them a seat at His table, and provide for their every need.
As servants of the master, our job is to invite people to attend God’s banquet. If people make excuses and choose not to come, that is between them and God. Do not take the rejection personally. Continue to invite people to attend church with you, to read the Bible, to discuss spiritual things, to trust in Christ. You never know who might say “yes” to the invitation.
Observation #4: There are some people who will attend. In the parable, the people who accept the invitation to attend the banquet are described as the poor, blind, maimed and lame. In other words, these are people that the world has disregarded, people that others think could never have a place at the perfect table of our Master, God. But the truth of the matter is that these people are not coming based on their merit or status, rather they are coming at the invitation of the master.
When the servant reports that there is still room at the table, the master sends him back out to compel others to attend. This speaks to the benevolent heart of God, who is always inviting people and offering to forgive their sin, give them new life, and give them a seat at the table.
God is no respecter of persons. What that means is that God cares for everyone the same, people of every socio-economic class, every ethnicity, every language and every people group. God wants people in every nation of the world to be saved. As you think about where God could use you to invite people to be part of his family, don’t just look for people who are just like you.