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The Parable of the Great Supper

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 22, 2023 12:01 am

The Parable of the Great Supper

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 22, 2023 12:01 am

Jesus told a parable of a great banquet. Although many guests were invited, they began making excuses once the feast drew near. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in the gospel of Luke, urging us to examine where we stand regarding the Lord's ultimate invitation.

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Coming up next on the Lord's Day edition of Renewing Your Mind.

Today we're going to continue our study of the gospel according to Saint Luke. We're in the 14th chapter, and I will be reading from verse 15 through verse 24, and I would ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. Now when one of those who sat at the table with him heard these things, he said to him, blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. And then he said to him, a certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, come, for all things are now ready.

But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said, I've bought a piece of ground that I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.

And others said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm going to test them. I ask you to have me excused. And still another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came and reported these things to his master. And then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, go out quickly into the streets and the lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind. And the servant said, Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room. Then the master said to the servant, go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled.

For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper. Again, our Lord teaches concerning the kingdom of God by means of a parable. And this parable was given not only for the enlightenment and understanding of those who heard it in the first century, but by the superintendence and inspiration of God, the Holy Spirit has been preserved for our edification. And so I pray this morning we will hear the teaching of Jesus in this parable.

Please be seated. Again, our Father and our God, we understand that to those who believe in You, whose eyes have been opened by a divine and supernatural light, hear Your Word in parable. But for those who resist Your Word, these things only tend to obscure Your truth all the more. And so we ask that in this hour, in Your mercy, You will be pleased to make clear to us Your intended meaning in this story, for we ask it in Jesus' name.

Amen. In the previous passage in Luke's Gospel, we recall how Jesus had been invited to a dinner at the home of a Pharisee, and with the other Pharisees there, a trap had been set for Jesus to catch him, in their opinion, by violating the Sabbath day by healing a man with dropsy. And Jesus took that occasion not only to heal that one so afflicted, but also to instruct those who were there concerning humility. And He followed up that instruction, as Luke tells us here, with this parable. We read, when one of those who sat at the table heard the things, the previous things that Jesus has said, He said to Jesus, blessed is He who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Now, we don't know whether this was said cynically or skeptically, since those who were in attendance were there as people in opposition to Jesus, or whether one of the group who was there was perhaps a secret disciple of Jesus, as Nicodemus perhaps was.

But whether he spoke cynically or genuinely, what he said abounds with truth. We remember when we studied the Gospel of Matthew and we looked carefully at the so-called beatitudes, each one which begins with the formula, blessed is He, blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, blessed are the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and so on. I told you at that time that Jesus was using an ancient formula that was used by the Old Testament prophets called an oracle.

And there were two kinds of oracles, the oracles of will, which were good news, and the oracles of woe, which were bad news. The oracles of will were used in conjunction with this term, blessed. When Jesus pronounced a benediction on certain kinds of people, it was one of the highest highest words of comfort that a human being could ever hear. Imagine if He said to you this morning personally, blessed are you.

To hear that benediction from His lips was magnificent. And so here we have another beatitude that is spoken. And who is it that is blessed in this context? Well, as we read, the man said, blessed is He who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Blessed is the person who comes to the table of God in the heavenly kingdom.

Like Mephibosheth, the crippled survivor in the Old Testament, was invited to the king's table in the house of David. So all who are born of the Spirit, redeemed by Christ, adopted in his family, are invited to the heavenly feast that God has prepared in all eternity, the marriage feast of the Lamb with His bride. And all of us who are in Christ or in the invisible church are His bride. And we will participate in that bridal feast. Well, after this man pronounces the benediction, that's the occasion for Jesus to tell this somewhat troubling parable.

Here's the story. He said a certain man gave a great supper and invited many people to it. Then he sent his servant at supper time to say to those who had been invited, come, for all things are now ready.

Now what lies behind this text is an ancient Jewish custom that when a major feast was being prepared by a wealthy person, there were two invitations that were given. The first invitation went out to the guests that the host was asking to participate. And the people would then give their RSVP and presumably in most cases to go to be invited to a feast like such as this was a great privilege and honor. And so they would almost always say, of course, count me in. But then when the meal was prepared and the time was at hand, those who had received the first invitation and had said yes, they were coming, would then be notified that the time had come now for the feast to begin. And so they would then come and participate. But in this story, everything goes south because we read that when the servant came to give the second invitation to those who presumably had already accepted the first invitation, saying, come, for all things are now ready, that we are told that all of those who were so notified with one accord began to make excuses. Even though they had said they would come, even though they had marked it on their calendar, even though the RSVP was a strong affirmative, when the time actually came, one by one by one, all of them with one accord refused to come. And they offered their excuses and they offered their excuses to the servant who summoned them.

Now, Jesus only includes three members of that group with respect to their excuses. And listen to what He tells us. The first man said, I've bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.

The second one, I've bought a team of five oxen, and I have to test them. Please send my excuse. And the third said, I've married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. You may remember 25 years ago when a new hymn was popular, based on this parable, and the name of the hymn was, I cannot come. Because one person after another who already had acquiesced to the invitation, when the time came, they said, oh, I'm so sorry.

I have other pressing needs. It's impossible for me to attend your banquet. Thank you for the invitation.

Please excuse me, but I cannot come. Of course, the accent in this story is on how feeble and flimsy the excuses given were. The first one said, I bought a piece of real estate, and I have to go look at it, so I cannot come. Wouldn't you like to have him as a client for some land for sale in the Everglades, that he goes and buys this piece of property without even looking at it? What kind of a person is that, to buy a piece of land sight unseen? But even if he were foolish enough to do that, that land was still going to be there the next day. There was no pressing need for that person to absent himself from the feast because he bought a field. And the second was like the first.

Like the first. One of the most important animals to the ancient Jew was the ox. The ox was the beast of burden that was responsible for so many activities of labor for the farmer. And this man said, I have to be excused because I've bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm going to go test them. What?

You didn't test them before you bought them? And I'll tell you that. You think the oxen are going to die this afternoon and you won't have an opportunity to check them out tomorrow? What kind of an excuse is that? And then the third one said, well, I married a wife, and I cannot come. Oh, well, you married a wife?

What, yesterday? You didn't know the date of the banquet? You didn't know the date of your wedding when you accepted the invitation to come to the feast? And what more wonderful, grand opportunity would you have to celebrate with your new wife than to come to this opulent festival?

How flimsy, how lame, how feeble are all of these excuses? And so, Jesus says that the servant went back and came and reported all of this to his master. And then the master of the house, Jesus said, was disappointed with these news. He said, I'm sorry to hear that these people I've invited to my feast were so inconvenienced and are not able to come. Maybe I'll postpone the feast and schedule it for another time when they are able to attend the banquet.

You know that is not what he said. Rather, Jesus said, the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, go out quickly. Go into the streets. Find the poor, the lame, the maimed, the blind, the amarets, the people of the earth. People are hungry. And bring them to my table. And so, the servant said, that's already been done.

And still there is room in the banquet hall. And so, the master said, well, then go into the highways and the byways. That is, go outside the city. Go to the strangers.

You hear, you sense the meaning. Go over the borders of Israel. Go to the Gentiles. Go to those people who were no people, and let them be now known as my people. To you and to me, the invitation was now given. And then the master said to the servant, compel them to come, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper. We have a tendency when we read the Scripture and we see activities like this, we look at that, these people, and we say, how could they be so foolish and so wicked as to say they were going to come to this banquet and then fail to show up and come with these lame excuses? But, ladies and gentlemen, that's who we are. And I'd like to take just a couple of moments for some brief application of this parable to us today.

I see three immediate ways in which we are like these people who fail to show up. The first way is this, that every one of us who is a church member, either of this church or of some other church, in order to join that church, made a pledge, a vow, a commitment to participate in the life of the church. Everybody in this room who's married has made a vow to their wife or to their husband to maintain honor in the marriage. Every one of us who's employed or our employers have entered into agreements with those who labor with us or for us in order to do certain things. And in other words, we are people who make commitments all the time in every aspect of our lives that we don't always keep. So in that regard, we're like the people who said, sure, I want to come. Count me in.

I'll be there. But when push comes to shove, they're nowhere to be found. That's who we are in our fallen condition. Secondly, why didn't they go to the feast? These were people who put second things first. Second things first. Jesus had said, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Everything else will then be added unto you. But no, these people, they had their gaze fixed on the horizontal plane, on the terrestrial plane.

Their eyes were fixed on the things of this world. There's nothing wrong with buying a field. There's nothing wrong with buying auction.

There's nothing wrong with getting married. But typically, our whole concentration is fixed on this world. We rarely think of heaven or of eternal matters. Just a couple of weeks ago, we came back from a trip to Seattle and Alaska. And the day we came back, we began immediately packing boxes, books, and all the rest to move to our new home. And for the next two weeks, we were preoccupied every moment of every day.

I didn't give a thought to the kingdom of God. All I could think about was getting all this stuff from one place to another place. My gaze was fixed on the earth. It used to be said of spiritually minded people that they were so spiritually minded people that they were so heavenly minded, they were no earthly good.

But now the problem is the opposite. We're so earthly minded, we're no heavenly good. We need to lift our gaze to heaven to think of the things that God has stored up for us for eternity. I often wonder how people can live in this world and not think about eternity.

How can I not ask themselves the question, what is it all about? Why am I here? What is ultimate truth? What is ultimate reality?

There's got to be more than this. Every bone in our bodies, every fiber of our being screams that the significance of human life far transcends the daily activities that we're engaged in. But for the most part, we're mindless, thoughtless about eternal things.

And so, the buying of the field, the testing of the oxen, and the working out the marriage becomes far more important to us than our eternal destinies. Finally, you must be sick by now of hearing me say that my greatest concern in the church is this, that people who have made a profession of faith don't possess the profession that they've made. I've said so many times that no one ever has a profession of faith that's a profession of faith. I've said so many times that no one ever got into heaven by a profession of faith.

If you have faith, you're supposed to profess it, but professing it doesn't mean you have it. Every one of these people professed that they were coming to the banquets, but no one came. They said, I'll come. Then they said, I cannot come.

And that has to do with our ultimate state of things. Maybe you heard an evangelist preach a sermon, and you walked down the aisle and made a commitment of faith. Maybe you prayed the sinner's prayer, something of that sort, and then the next day you forgot it. And what does Jesus say? That these people who make the commitment and don't keep it, these people whose eyes are fixed on this world and not on heaven, these people who profess faith in Him but don't possess the faith they profess, He says, none of these shall taste My supper. Notice the subtle change in the parable. At the beginning of the story, Jesus speaks in the third verse about an anonymous man who produced this fine banquet. When He gets to the end of the story, it's not an anonymous man, a king, or a ruler. The feast is Jesus' feast. It's His banquet. And He said, none of those who were invited shall taste My supper. It is imperative that we examine our lives.

Have we become too busy attending to our lives here that we've neglected the most important thing? The sermon we just heard is from R.C. Sproul's series from the Gospel of Luke.

We're glad you could be with us today for Renewing Your Mind. Dr. Sproul preached through entire books of the Bible in his role as pastor of St. Andrew's Chapel here in Sanford, Florida, and we benefit from those sermons every week here on this program. They're also the basis of Dr. Sproul's commentaries. Our resource offered today will give you the opportunity to continue the study on your own. When you contact us today with a donation of any amount, we will provide you with a digital download of Dr. Sproul's commentary on Luke. You can make your request and give your gift online at You can also hear Dr. Sproul's teaching on RefNet. That's our 24-hour internet radio station. When you go to, you'll hear faithful teaching and preaching from many trusted people. Dr. Sproul will continue his sermon series from Luke with a message on the cost of discipleship. I hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-22 08:28:04 / 2023-01-22 08:35:42 / 8

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