A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 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.' 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.' 19 And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.' 20 And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, 'Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.' 22 And the servant said, 'Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' 23 And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'"2
“Come.” That’s what a certain man said to a list of invited guests for his banquet. “Come.” But one of the men who was invited responded: “field.” He’d just bought one. He hadn’t time for a banquet. He had to go and see this field. Another man said “oxen.” He’d just bought five yoke of them. He, too, hadn’t time for a banquet. He had to go and inspect these oxen. “Wife” was what another man said. He’d just married one (not sure why that precluded him going to a banquet; but anyway…he wasn’t coming). All of these had rejected the man’s invitation.
And in Jesus’ parable there is an implication of arrogance in this rejection. It’s arrogant to receive this particular invitation and say one doesn’t have time for it. The host absolutely sees it that way. And it has dire consequences. These have excluded themselves from an offer that means everything. “None of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet,” the man says portentously.
So the man who had done the inviting called to his servant. He said “bring.” He wanted him to bring in all the ones who hadn’t been invited. Bring the ones who didn’t usually seem to fit the part of invitees to something like this.
The man’s servant did it, and then he came back and he said, “room.” There was still lots of it in the banquet hall. So then the man who was throwing the banquet said, “compel.” “Compel!” He wanted his servant to compel everyone else who was out there (who hadn’t rejected the invitation) to come. Come!
Jesus’ parables are never just stories, of course. He had recently said to some Pharisees, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! [The Pharisees’ arrogant rejection of Jesus was related to a long history of this sort of thing]. How often [He goes on] How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
Often. Often He had sought to gather these together who had been invited. They were not willing. Now, their house is forsaken. It’s essentially Jesus’ parable in our Gospel lesson, right?
People are invited.
They reject the invitation.
It is made known that they have lost what is vitally important for them to have.
Look at the gathering sort of words in our Old Testament text from 2 Samuel. God speaks to King David about how He had brought His people up out of Egypt. He had accompanied them on a forty year journey to a land of promise in Canaan. He had given these Israelites His Commandments. Commandments are so that we can know our need primarily. We need to be holy like God is. And we need to know that it’s impossible for us to be holy like God unless He makes us that.
In Old Testament times, God had set up a crucial aspect of His peoples’ religious life to be a reminder of this.
They were sinners.
They required a sacrifice (blood had to be shed for them, a price paid that made them holy).
Animal sacrifices provided the atoning blood in those Old Testament times; but animals don’t make amends for our sins. They just stood in the place of what really does. They were shadows of what was to come. They were stand-ins for the real sacrifice. They held place for the One Whose blood would pay the price of their sins - God’s eternal Son. The substance belongs to Christ, as Paul writes (Col. 2:17). He is the perfect One Whose blood buys our forgiveness.
The LORD is talking to David about that in our Old Testament text. David had wanted to be the one to build an earthly house for the LORD - a temple of cedar. The LORD had other plans; but in telling David that, tenderly, He tells Him His plans for a different house. David’s own offspring, and God’s own Son will establish an eternal House. From David’s own family would come this One Whom God had promised first to Adam and Eve, and then subsequently to believers throughout Old Testament times, including Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. The Gospel writer Matthew carefully records in his genealogy that Jesus is of David’s line.
So, when the LORD is talking to David in our text (through the prophet Nathan) about this Offspring of his through Whom an everlasting kingdom is established, He is speaking of Jesus. He is the perfect One Who is punished for the imperfect ones. All who humbly receive Him have the benefit of His sacrifice, namely, forgiveness and salvation in His eternal kingdom.
Just before our Gospel lesson, Luke records that one Sabbath, Jesus had gone to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees. Jesus noticed that the Pharisees tended to choose the places of honor. They saw themselves as worthy of the highest honor (they were real sticklers on keeping the laws, after all - God’s, and hundreds of their own). Jesus recommended that they have a little humility. Having to be moved out of their seat so that someone more important could have it would be embarrassing.
But humility is important for a better reason than that. Jesus’ parable is really about the Pharisees, and anyone who would think like them. It’s about anyone who is arrogant before God. God is the One inviting people into His eternal kingdom that He describes more than once in the Bible as a banquet. The ones who refuse to come are arrogant before Him. They’ve decided for themselves that they don’t need what He is offering them. They don’t need the one our Old Testament text is about - the One who establishes an everlasting kingdom by becoming the perfect sacrifice for all people’s sins. They’re saying as people do today, thanks but no thanks - we’re good, to the One offering them salvation from punishment in hell.
“Come,” the LORD said first to many of us in Baptism, and continues to say through the preaching of His Word. Come and receive for yourselves the kingdom established forever in the One Who is God’s and David’s son. It is a kingdom of rest. God’s forgiveness makes it a reality for sinners like us, who would never deserve it otherwise. His forgiveness is in Christ.
“Field,” “oxen,” “wife,” these were the excuses of the ones who ignored the invitation in Jesus’ parable, and lost what had been offered. What might those excuses be that lure us away from God’s invitation, and His eternal kingdom? Is there some sort of sin too enticing to give up - that keeps us from God’s Word, and His house, and from prayer, and from His mercy? Is work more important? It was to some in Jesus’ parable; that’s one of the things He was singling out - this world’s work that is important today; tomorrow: meaningless. Busyness around the house? Friends? Family? No doubt at least in our thoughts all of us have chosen something other than God’s invitation at times - something that interferes with our prayers, and with our worship. You might have done it in this Service if your thoughts have wandered in a certain way. Every time we’ve sinned, we have chosen something else.
“Come,” He still keeps saying. Come and share in what I have prepared for you as a free gift in Christ. All is forgiven in Him. Your carelessness with the invitation is forgiven too. This gracious invitation is for everyone - those called first, and those brought later from the streets and lanes of the city (the ones who didn’t usually seem to fit the part of invitees to something like this), and still later, the ones compelled from the highways and hedges. “Come.” Come humbly. Come as the invited guests for the LORD’s banquet who hear His Word eagerly. Come as the ones whom Christ has gathered together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. Come as those who say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” - that means the ones who have forsaken all else, and received this priceless invitation to be with the LORD, made new, forgiven in Christ, at rest eternally. Come. Amen.
Other Lessons The Week:
Old Testament Lesson - 2 Samuel 7:4-16
But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, 5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7 In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ 8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”
The Epistle - 1 John 3:13-18
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.