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Have you been invited?

June 14, 2015

“After Jesus had finished speaking, one of the guests said, “The greatest blessing of all is to be at the banquet in God’s La gran invitacionkingdom!”
Jesus told him:
A man once gave a great banquet and invited a lot of guests.  When the banquet was ready, he sent a servant to tell the guests, “Everything is ready! Please come.”
One guest after another started making excuses. The first one said, “I bought some land, and I’ve got to look it over. Please excuse me.”
Another guest said, “I bought five teams of oxen, and I need to try them out. Please excuse me.”
Still another guest said, “I have just gotten married, and I can’t be there.”
The servant told his master what happened, and the master became so angry that he said, “Go as fast as you can to every street and alley in town! Bring in everyone who is poor or crippled or blind or lame.”
When the servant returned, he said, “Master, I’ve done what you told me, and there is still plenty of room for more people.”
His master then told him, “Go out along the back roads and fence rows and make people come in, so that my house will be full.  Not one of the guests I first invited will get even a bite of my food!”

Luke 14:15-24

Have you been invited? Haven’t you? Have you ever heard that question? Many times, when we are invited to an event, we become happy, and the more important the event is, the happier we are. And when we thought we were going to be invited to something but weren’t we are perhaps disappointed. People categorize their friends and often demonstrate it with inclusion or exclusion to their important events. By this they mean: you are important to me, or you are not so important to me.

The parable of the banquet, like any of Jesus’ parables, is a comparison; it is not a true story, although its characteristics are real and belong to time in which Jesus lived.
The king is a man of absolute power; he has servants, and maybe even slaves. This shows absolute power. He is also an important person that should not be neglected. To be a friend of that king is really something honorable. One cannot neglect that friendship. However, those invited by the king, whom the king considered his friends and worthy of invitation and participation, reject his invitation for various reasons. Those who rejected the invitation were people that the king thought were within his circle of trust, friendship and family; they were his people.
Who were these people to whom Jesus was addressing through this parable? The people of Israel, of course; the ones called the chosen people, who traditionally were the people of God, and the people of the Old Testament. However, this parable that from the Gospel of Luke, is intended to reach the known world, it is also addressed to us here and now today.

Do you know that you are also in the list of those invited to the banquet?
The king, who is God himself, is inviting us to participate in this feast. The banquet is pleasure, enjoyment, abundant life, eternal life, salvation and eternal communion with God. This banquet has to do with abundance and celebration.
The first guests to refuse the invitation are those that God considered his family, his people, and his flock. However, many rejected the honor of enjoying that banquet, that party. And worst of all, not only are they dishonoring the king’s authority and important personality, but the excuses show where their allegiances lie.

So, as bad as we feel when someone we thought was our friend rejects an invitation or does not invite us to their party, it’s the same disappointment God feels from those who he thought were really his friends, his flock, his community, his church, or, more directly, those who considered themselves members of his church refuse a relationship with Him.

In the same way that the king is hurt and disappointed, God feels let down by those who promised to be faithful members of the church at some point but then turned around and didn’t want to participate in church communion anymore.
And declining the invitation to the feast has to do with rejecting the belief in God. It is about refusing to accept Christ as Lord, Savior and Son of God. It is about rejecting His Word, which is expressed in what we call the Bible. It is about rejecting the church, whichever church we may decide to attend, and about forgetting Sunday services and the day of rest, which is in the Ten Commandments that we have memorized and we say we confess and obey.

We have an invitation that many reject. It is to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. This invitation is like when we are invited to a party. A banquet, we read in the Gospel for today. The king has invited us to a banquet. What is a banquet? I looked it up in the dictionary, which said: “a splendid meal; a lavish meal; feast; a ceremonious public dinner, especially one honoring a person”. Surely you have organized a wedding in your life. And how bad is it to invite people to a party and then see that those who were invited didn’t show up. It is a frustrating experience. And the Bible says that those who were invited excused themselves saying, “I bought some land, and I’ve got to look it over. Please excuse me.” Another said: “I bought five teams of oxen, and I need to try them out. Please excuse me.”
Still another said: “I have just gotten married, and I can’t be there” We are given three excuses. These excuses are not mere examples. Each of the examples of Jesus’ excuses has a special meaning, as does every word of his parables. These excuses are related to
1) business,
2) work and
3) family.
These are the typical excuses one hears on a daily basis from those who don’t commune with Christ and his church. Many people reject Christ’s invitation or belonging to His church with these three typical excuses: Businesses, work, or family. No time for Christ, ‘I have no time for the church because I have to attend to one of these things. On Sunday, I have to be with the family. Sunday is ‘family day,’ as some unwittingly say. No, Sunday is not the day of the family. Sunday is the Lord’s Day. And if others are doing business, it is because the material life is the most important thing to them, it is their priority. It is as the Gospel says: “Your heart will always be where your treasure is.” (Mt 6:21)

This is an invitation that comes from the Lord directly. Those who make excuses to the Lord will not be saved because they do not accept that message. I suppose that every one of us who is here today has already accepted this invitation. We have been given an invitation, we have accepted the invitation and we are already enjoying the party as far as is possible in this world.

And we want to clarify some things regarding this parable from Jesus that relate to our current situation. As always, the Bible tells us, God is not depriving or denying us of living life in this world. God doesn’t deprive us of work or enjoying our work. God is not depriving us of relaxation or of being with family. God is not depriving us of doing business and prospering and thereby the ability to provide better for our family. What God is calling your attention to today is if you really have accepted that invitation and if we are giving God first place in your life?
For the person who makes an excuse, saying they have no time for God every Sunday, not even a couple of hours a week to seek communion with God, for seeking help and blessing for their lives and to honor him, it is natural to think that this person has not yet accepted or understood God’s invitation.
It is not enough just to say ‘I believe in God’, like saying I belong to this or that association or sports club or whatever. Jesus asks that we not only accept and believing in him but that we also participate. It is not enough to just say: ‘Wow, how nice and generous is the king with his invitation, I like the king!’ Believing implies action, a movement, an act; the king wants us to participate, he wants to see us attend his banquet. The church is the big test of the feast that in its final shape will be heaven.
An example to know if you really accept the invitation to the heavenly banquet, is the minimum weekly church attendance, not of course as an obligation but through belief, for love for God, for a desire to please God and show ourselves to be wise as we want to be blessed by our communion with God.

The other day I read a funny message: “Not going to church because of the hypocrites is like not going to the gym because of “out of shape people.” We go to church because we need it, because we are sinners and we want God to change us. We go because we are not going to find God outside the ‘communion of saints’. He promises: “Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you.” (Mt 18:20) God is in the church, especially in fellowship. And we need it. And as we need to eat food every day, we need to be nourished spiritually by the Holy Spirit of God, with His presence, every week in church. And of course, we also need to feed ourselves daily with his Spirit by individually the Bible and praying.
And if there are no perfect people in the church, it is because it is not very different from the people we see every day outside. People are not perfect, so the churches are not perfect. Jesus Christ is the only perfect one, and we come to church for him to heal us. If the people of the church do not behave like Jesus asks, and we realize it, our task within the Church is to correct that: “I command you to preach God’s message. Do it willingly, even if it isn’t the popular thing to do. You must correct people and point out their sins. But also cheer them up, and when you instruct them, always be patient.” (2 Tim 4: 2)

However, those who do not accept his invitation will not inherit the kingdom of God, even though they think themselves—incorrectly— to be considered part of His kingdom. The invitation involves commitment. The invitation involves participation and, most importantly, putting first things first, that is, to put the things of God first before our other interests.
You know that you have been invited? The Lord is waiting for a reply. “RSVP ASAP” that you believe in Him, accept Him as authority and Savior in your life and begin to participate in that feast in the lobby of heaven, which is the church. Amen.

One Comment leave one →
  1. margkahl permalink
    June 14, 2015 12:42 pm

    thank you!

    On Sun, Jun 14, 2015 at 1:24 PM, Pilgrim Evangelical Lutheran Church

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