St. Luke 14:15-24
June 30, 2019
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, X and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
A leader of the Pharisees had invited Jesus one Sabbath to supper at his house. There were others there, other pharisees presumably and other religious leaders, because the text says that temple lawyers were there, but it wasn’t just the religious leaders around this table. There was also a man who had dropsy. The man with dropsy was obviously suffering and in pain. Jesus saw this man and had compassion. He asked the Lawyers and Pharisees if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath, but they remained silent. They knew it was lawful and good to heal on any day. Jesus healed the man and sent him away. He then rebuked the host and his guests with the question, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” Again, they answered nothing. It was probably a very awkward silence. The kind of silence you get when you know the right answer, but you’ve been cornered in your own selfishness and there’s nothing you can say to divert the conversation.
Jesus is not a “safe” guest to have in your home. He is not going to overlook blatant disregard for your neighbor or be “polite” and say nothing in the face of obvious abuse of the fifth or eighth commandments. He is going to call you on it. You are to help and support your neighbor in every physical need, no matter what day it is. You are to defend and speak well of your neighbor no matter who is around and no matter how funny you think you are.
After the awkward silence, and after a rebuking parable about presuming to take the seat of honor, placing yourself above others, one of the guests tries to cut the tension in the room by saying a pious-sounding statement: “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” What could be wrong with that? Pious-sounding statements meant to cover up sin or defend bad behavior don’t work with Jesus. (Jesus isn’t impressed with Lutheran clichés). This is the context for the parable before us this morning. He is pushing the Pharisees in their false theology and practice. Jesus will not stop preaching the Law until sinners repent and turn from evil. He will not give up until rebellious men turn from sin and are converted to faith. He will not look the other way to make a false peace or agree to disagree.
“A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’” But those who were invited made excuses and refused to come. The master got angry and sent the servant out to invite any and all he could find, the poor and crippled and blind and lame.
This parable is built around three important points: the inviter, the invitation, and the invitees. The inviter is God. The invitation is the Gospel that Jesus has redeemed the world from sin and has opened up the gate of heaven to all who believe. The invitees are the people in this world from the beginning of creation until today, everyone who has ever lived.
The inviter is good. He is generous. He is sincere. He is loving. He wants all people to come and enjoy His hospitality and share in His riches.
The invitation is urgent. “Come, for everything is NOW ready.” The banquet is about to begin and it’s ready to be enjoyed, now. The invitation is external—it’s audible and visible. It has been broadcast by servants—the prophets and apostles who have been sent for this purpose. It isn’t secret or hidden. It is public and communal. Christ sends the invitation out into the whole world. In the first place, God sent out the prophets, who have been teaching since the world began. Then He sends out the Apostles into all the world after the day of Pentecost, and now He sends out the message in the Church’s preaching. But He also sends out His children to invite others, to give witness to the hope that is in them. You have been called for this purpose as Christian sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, workers, students, and colleagues. Every Christian is called to give “a reason for the hope that is in [them]; yet do[ing] it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience (1 Peter 3:15-16). This is the Biblical view of evangelism, and in this point, this is an evangelism parable. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the spoken Word of God. The Holy Spirit works using people as messengers to extend the invitation through audible words. This is not just the duty of a few called pastors. It is the duty of all children of God within their vocation.
The invitation does not mean that the invitees are worthy in themselves of the invitation. The invitation at the end went out to all people regardless of worthiness, telling us that the invitation has always gone out to the unworthy. The invitation itself is by grace alone without any merit on the part of the receiver. The fact that the invitation was extended AND the content of the invitation are Gospel, the free gift of God for us—the Good News that God has reconciled man to himself through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. That’s the only message that God has preached since the Fall, since Genesis 3:15. All of Scripture is pointing to this one, monumental, salvific event. No word of the Bible has strayed from this singular event. All parts of every book of the Bible point to Jesus’ sacrifice for the sins of the World. (support with Bible passages).
This invitation may be rejected. It is offered for free, by grace, but sinful man can reject the invitation. That’s what is behind Jesus’ statement, “but they all alike began to make excuses.” The first had just bought a field and must go out and see it. Another had bought five yoke of oxen and was going to examine them. And another just got married and therefore cannot come. The excuses are feeble, that’s the point. All excuses for rejecting the invitation are feeble. Just like all excuses for not helping your neighbor are feeble. (Modern excuses: the church is full of hypocrites; the pastor or a another member have offended me, so I’ll stop going altogether…I’ll show them; my parents never took me, so I don’t want to go either; I can’t believe in a God that allows bad things to happen; I don’t need to go to a church building, I can worship God in my own way). So, the invitation may be rejected by those who receive it. Cain fell from the faith when his heart stropped trusting in God. King Saul fell from the faith when He stopped trusting God to provide for him and relied rather on his own strength. Judas fell from the faith when he refused to believe that Jesus could forgive his sin. The Bible gives account of those among the Children of God, who then left the faith for their own selfish, sinful devises and desires.
Rejection of the invitation brings damnation. Jesus says “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (John 12:47-48). And St. Paul writes, “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus…will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Rejection of the invitation is eternally serious. “For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.” (Sower parable: ¾ reject the faith).
But the invitation goes forth nonetheless. The Lord’s servants go out relentlessly to spread the Good News of the kingdom, until all the number of God’s children are seated at His banquet. And if all people, regardless of worthiness are invited, then rest assured, dear Christian, that you too are invited. The Gospel message is for you. Jesus has overcome the world by His death and resurrection. He has connected you to that death through Baptism. You are washed, made clean, born anew, given banquet clothes. He brings you to the table of His heavenly banquet, the one to which you will receive a foretaste this morning at this altar. The Sacrament of the Altar is the foretaste of the feast to come. It’s where the invitees gather. May God, thereby, strengthen your faith in Him and your love for one another.
In Jesus’ X Name. Amen.
 1 Timothy 4:10 “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”
 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26). “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).