Rob spoke of the great banquet in the parable of Luke 14:15-24. We had problems with the radio microphone so the signal dropped out from time to time, but is good enough to listen to this excellent sermon.
His sermon outline is below.
What is the Church?
This series is a follow on from the Basics series when we looked at the Apostle’s Creed and the core of Christian belief.
The Great Banquet
Difficult to have a list like the Apostle’s Creed on church. Not quite the same. And as with Apostle’s Creed you can’t just cover it in 10 weeks – really we talk every week about what it means to follow Jesus and be part of the movement of God.
But put really simply, 3 core things that a church does:
Worshiping and reflecting back to God – We exist to reflect the grace of God back to him in worship for his glory.
Fellowship with one another – We exist to apply the grace of God to each other in the church to build one another up, love one another and disciple one another
Mission and evangelism – We exist to extend the grace of God to those outside the faith in evangelism
Some churches or individuals, when looking for something to define and distinguish themselves can ignore one of the three.
We are supposed to sit in the middle of this, we can’t choose between the three. Yes, some para-church organisations choose between the three, so may be more focused on evangelism and mission or worship. But our church here in York Elim, church local is supposed to be an expression of church global.
The Scripture passage
In this passage we see layers of meaning, the perspectives of the players and the context.
1. The Master makes Invitations
At the start of this parable the master ‘gave a great banquet and invited many’. God’s banquet is great! And he invites lots of people!
There are clear echoes of the great messianic banquet prophesied in Isaiah 25.
6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Not just speaking of a good party but speaking of eternity.
The banquet is amazing! Best party ever. And lots of people invited.
There are two invites. A first invite to get the number of guests so that you prepare enough food and kill the right amount of animals (like wedding invitations). And then there is a second invitation where the invite goes out to say “come, all the food is ready!”
2. There are reactions to this invitation
Those who were invited. They make excuses. And their excuses are rubbish.
Bought a field – must go and see it.
Bought oxen – must inspect them.
Why would you have made such an investment without having checked them out first? Would you say to your partner that you’ll be late home for dinner because you’ve bought a house today, signed the cheques, and now need to go and see it?!
Then another excuse. Now I have a wife and I’m not coming – this is maybe the worst. So the first two were stupid, and probably lies. This one is essentially thanks, but I have other priorities and I’m not interested in your banquet any longer.
We have to remember that following Jesus, responding to his invitation is a walk of discipleship, it’s not a one-time decision but a pursuit with God, a walk with God where we make lots of decisions again and again. A long walk of obedience in the same direction. In discipleship we are constantly responding to the invitation of God. As a church when we invite others we’re not asking them to come to the front of a meeting, make a decision and never see them again, but a lifetime pursuit of discipleship and joy with God. Our excuses sound rubbish to God – let’s sort out our priorities and respond to his call!
The Master’s reaction
Is that of the master. It says that the master “became angry”. He gets angry because he is rejected, he has been rejected in a dishonest and rude way.
But he then gets graceful. His anger is turned into compassionate grace. He 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.’ Isn’t that a wonderful reflection of the gospel and the grace of God? He gets angry so invites the poor and the sick and the lame. Our God is a compassionate God. Jesus looked at people ‘and had compassion on them.’ Our God is ‘slow to anger and rich in love’. His compassionate grace outweighs his righteous anger. He has responded to our rejection with grace by offering Jesus.
3. The master invites the servant to invite others
Note that in this parable the invitations are always sent out by the servant. Look at who is doing the inviting and look at who is being invited. This is our call as the church in York for mission and evangelism. What a privilege it is that we are invited to invite others, to be part of the organising of this banquet.
We are not just given the power of the Spirit for better meetings and better experiences – we are given it for broken humanity. It is not just designed to be practised in the building but designed to be practised beyond our meetings. And when we do that, we will see way more of the power of the spirit of God. We’ll see more power outside of our meetings that we do during our meetings. Let’s pray with the same passion and assurance in the rest of our weeks as we have do on Sunday mornings. Jesus says to his disciples (Matthew 10:7): “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near”. The kingdom of heaven is near, come and find it. Compel them to come in.
4. There are reactions to this
Three quite simple reactions:
People have a party
Those originally invited don’t. Left with their excuses
The Pharisees grumble. (Luke 15v2) “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
So which of these three do we want to be?
Do we want to be those who reject the invitation of God because we are too busy being busy with other priorities? Do we want to be like the Pharisees who sit on the sidelines hearing of the good news of God, get religious about it and grumble about people being invited who may be different from us? Or do we want to be like the servants and the partygoers, inviting people to join in and then tasting the great banquet? Let’s make sure that we join the party and let’s be good servants and tell more people about the great banquet which is on offer.