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.’”
First off, can we talk about the dude (the Pharisee) at the table with Jesus who gives that ‘smart’ reply? That just instantly reminded me of ‘that’ kid (little goody two-shoes) in Sunday School who would always say the most “Christianese” answers to questions. Well, apparently Jesus wasn’t impressed with that Pharisee’s response… because He lays a spiritual smack down on him in the form a parable.
Now, I’m not really a ‘foodie’ and I don’t eat much at meals, so a feast or a buffet doesn’t really grab my attention, per say. Most people appreciate a good hearty feast, so I get what Jesus is trying to convey here.
Like Jesus implied, Salvation is like a feast. Unlike a potluck where everyone brings something to share, with a feast, everything is already prepared. We are just invited to come as we are. We don’t need to prepare or bring anything. Salvation isn’t a potluck. We bring nothing to the table. #SpiritualPuns
But apparently, that wasn’t enough for the guests invited to this feast. They all made excuses to not come. The guy with the new field: he wanted to go check out what he had just bought – maybe to see if it was good for farming? (Wouldn’t you check that before you bought it, though?). Maybe we could substitute field for… say.. house or maybe, on a smaller scale, a Playstation 4? Because, you know, those things can’t wait. *sigh* How about the bro with the oxen? I mean, he’s got these new work animals it only makes sense he would want to see how strong they are, right? Substitute the oxen for a new truck or car. You’d want to stretch it’s legs.. You’d want to see how well the truck does off road and you’d want to see how fast the car can go on the highway, right? Because, you know, those things can’t wait. *sigh* How about the romantic newlywed dude who wants to spend some time with his new wife. Of all the excuses, this one does seem the most reasonable, I have to admit. God kinda does like marriage… But still can’t it wait? Couldn’t they, um, go to the feast TOGETHER? (Sensing where this is going?)
Perspective: get some
The guy with the new field needs a little Matthew 6:31-33 in his life:
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
The bro with the oxen needs a smack over the head with the Old Testament. He HAD the story of Elijah and Elisha! Like, he was kind of living 1 Kings 19:20-21:
Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
Realizing the oxen and plows were a hindrance to following God’s call, Elisha killed the oxen and burned the equipment. With that “stuff” out of the way, there was no way to go back, he was moving forward and following God’s call and Elijah.
I don’t know about you but that certainly convicts me. What’s holding me back?
The romantic newlywed dude should slide up into some Deuteronomy 6:5:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Put all your heart into loving your Savior… after that, take it and pour it into your wife, leading and encouraging her to do the same. Become one and walk together. (Hey, maybe walk to the “feast” together too) Get up into some Ephesians 5:25:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
God > Wife > Children
Parable point 1: Salvation isn’t a potluck. We don’t bring anything to the table but our sin and ourselves. God did it all, in grace and mercy, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Parable point 2: Put first things first. Let second things remain second.
Since we’re talking about salvation…
Can I be honest for a second?
I can’t remember doubting that God exists – that what He promises in the Bible is true – that there is a heaven and there is a hell – and you go to one or the other. I grew up in the church and a Christian home and had the blessing of having Biblical truths poured into me all my life. This fact alone does NOT make me a Christian, at all, but it laid a foundation of belief for me. I praise God for that, seriously.
What I do find myself being tempted by Satan about is believing the truth that I’m actually a true child of God and will be with my Father in Heaven when I die. I sometimes get caught in the worry and lie of Satan that God’s Grace is just too good for me – that my acknowledgement and repentance of sin and belief that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins, past and present, isn’t authentic. That the words I speak and the things I do are not authentic because my sin, which is still so prevalent, seems too big – that I’m just too messy. I say one thing and then do the opposite. I encourage someone in one area and then don’t do the thing I’m encouraging them to do. I’m a hypocrite with the best of them. My heart has these longings yet sometimes I feel so dry when things aren’t happening. Sometimes there’s this disconnect where I’m not seeing the fruits of what is on my heart; like I need to do more to show that I’m changed. But in these moments of doubt I come running to my Father and I throw myself, my doubt, and Satans lies at His feet. I come back to Pauls words to God’s people in Philippi
…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:6
Do & then get
Grace doesn’t make sense… at least it doesn’t totally make sense in this world where we’re taught that we have to work hard at something to then achieve results. It’s the American way (or at least it was). You work hard in highschool, take it seriously, do well in sports, and you’ll get into a good college and maybe you’ll even get a scholorship. You work hard in college, you don’t party too much, you become involved in campus activities and you get an internship and maybe you’ll get a good first job right out of college. You work hard in the job and you get a promotion. With your hard work you earn money to buy the things you need (and the things you don’t really need). You work hard throughout your life and you get to retire when you’re 60. This whole life is a cycle of working. YOU do THIS and then YOU get THAT.
Grace = you do nothing and you get everything
In terms of salvation, you do nothing. He does what you can’t and what you need. You get everything. What’s the everything? Justification, salvation, and sanctification.
You know the simple truth found in Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Remember the old reformed Sunday School saying for justification? It goes “Just as if I had never sinned”. Jesus’ death and resurrection justified us in God’s sight. His grace was enough: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Truth in Romans 3:21-28
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
Sanctification is the ongoing process of becoming more like Christ. It happens after you’ve been justified. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says:
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Until the day we meet Jesus in Heaven, the Holy Spirit continually works in our hearts to help us despise our sin, love what God loves, and pursue righteousness. It’s a heart change that directs our actions. We don’t remain stagnant. We don’t continue sinning. We were justified, so we could be sanctified, so that we could have a heart to serve, in action, our God – not out of duty or command – but out of appreciation and love. Sanctification “is a process, not a project” Hebrews 10:14 (ESV) says:
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
As I was praying over this topic and the thoughts started coming out (literally from nowhere!) I discovered a verse that I had never seen before. Over and over God makes promises about His love and our salvation, but the imperfect human in me tries to tear myself down – I’m not good enough (which is true, on my own I’m not good enough BUT, HE was good enough in what HE did so that I am good enough to stand right before God). Is it ‘just a feeling’? Is what I’m doing authentic? Does it have any real kingdom implication?
1 John 3:20 says:
If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
That directly speaks to the fear and worry I have! God knows my true heart – more than I do. He knows I love Him. That my deepest longing is to serve Him well – whether my actions always show it or not.
This is why you spend time in God’s Word… He has spoken to us. It’s not just a story to read, but His Word to live life by!
Rest in grace to live in faith to love in action.
‘Cause I am a sinner
If its not one thing its another
Caught up in words
Tangled in lies
You are the Savior
And you take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful
-Brokenness Aside | All Sons & Daughters
And we are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
-How He Loves | David Crowder Band/John Mark McMillan
And I find myself here on my knees again
Caught up in grace like an avalanche
Nothing compares to this love, love, love
Burning in my heart
-Like An Avalanche | Hillsong United
From the creation to the cross
Then from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me
There in the darkest night of the soul
There in the sweetest songs of victory
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me
-Your Grace Finds Me | Matt Redman