RSVP – Please Respond
The fact that the servant was sent to persuade everyone to come indicated that the offer of salvation would be extended to all!
The Sabbath day has come and Jesus is one of the many guests in the home of a prominent Pharisee. The Bible tells us that Jesus was being ‘carefully watched’, so we can safely say this wasn’t a very friendly group. Jesus has already challenged the religious leaders on their guardianship of the Mosaic Law, oral traditions, and social mores. This day was no exception. On the heels of a statement by a fellow guest (who probably subscribed to the popular notion that only Jews would be in the kingdom), Jesus tells a parable (Luke 14:16-24).
A man was preparing a huge banquet and sent his servant out to announce: ‘Get ready! I’m having a party – the likes you’ve never seen before!” The time comes when everything is ready and the servant is sent to tell all the pre-invited guests: come to the feast!
The first says, ‘I have just bought a field, and I have to go see it.”
(Huh? Didn’t you check it out BEFORE you bought it? And why do you have to go now…it’s only dirt – it’s not going anywhere.)
The second says: ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Can’t make your party.’
(Huh?? This is the first time you’re going to see these animals? After the purchase?)
Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
(Can’t come to a banquet with your new wife? Jewish society revolved around marriage celebrations. What wife wouldn’t want to keep the party going?? One by one the excuses were sent back to the giver of the banquet. In the culture and time when Jesus walked the earth, to refuse such an invitation was the height of rudeness; gross behavior; a horrible breach of social ethics.)
So when the servant came back and reported all the excuses, the owner of the house, with anger, ordered the servant to go wherever he needed to bring guests to his party! The servant was ordered to go into alleys, bring the poor, the lame, the blind! After obeying, the servant reported, there was still room at the feast. The host ordered the servant to go where necessary, and COMPEL people to come so the tables would all be occupied. With his final instruction, the ‘man’ declared that not one of those who had received the original invitation would even get a taste of his banquet.
At the end of the parable, the Bible is silent as to the reaction of the guests. But the detail that the invitation is open to society’s hurt and downtrodden is vital – the exact kind of people the Pharisees considered “unclean” and “cursed”. The fact that the servant was sent to persuade everyone to come indicated that the offer of salvation would be extended to all! Those who ignored the invitation or made excuses chose their own punishment—they missed out. Their choice is respected and it is made permanent: they would not “taste of my banquet.” So it will be with God’s judgment on those who choose to reject Christ: they will have their choice confirmed, and they will never taste the joys of heaven.
In conclusion, there are a number of messages we could take away from this parable. One is the great tragedy of the Jewish rejection of Christ. However, this rejection has opened the door of salvation to all – the blessings of the kingdom are available to everyone who will come to Christ by faith. “I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God’” (Hosea 2:23). God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), and “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).