Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. The Lord Jesus Christ has been commanded by the sovereign God to extend to you an invitation to his banquet. It's an invitation for addicts to be set free, for lonely people to come to community, for those of us who have shame and regret, to have it lifted, to have sins forgiven. If that were really the invitation that you're receiving, shouldn't that trump everything else in your life?
Welcome back to Summit Life. I'm your host, Molly Vinovich. Today on the program, Pastor J.D. Greer dives into Luke chapter 14 as we begin a new teaching series called Come to the Table. So if you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would you invite to your table?
Who comes to mind first? You see, mealtime was just as important to the life of Jesus as it is in our lives. In Luke chapter 14, Jesus tells a couple of parables that take place around the dinner table, and we're going to explore them over the next few days. As always, if you miss any of our programs, or if you are in search of our featured monthly resource, you can find it all online at jdgreer.com. Grab your Bible and pen, and let's join today's message that Pastor J.D.
Greer titled, Everything is Ready. If you have a Bible, I want you to open it to Luke chapter 14. Luke 14, if you've got your Bibles, we're going to spend a couple of weeks in Luke 14 in a series called Come to the Table. Come to the Table.
Jesus tells a number of parables around this theme in Luke 14, and so we're going to take a few weeks just to explore those parables. Come to the Table. Don't you just love invitations to eat? I think let's eat might be my two favorite words put together in the English language, or maybe that's three words.
I'm not sure how you count a contraction, but let's eat. It just brings joy to my heart. The only season of my life where those two words did not bring joy to my heart was when I was still trying to get adjusted to the food over in Southeast Asia, when I'd gone there to be a missionary, because mealtimes felt like more like a foray into the wild unknown than it did a time to eat good food.
I had been told when I went there as a missionary that it was just polite in that culture that you were supposed to eat everything they put on your plate, and so I just made up my mind I was going to be a good missionary, and I was just going to eat whatever they put down for Jesus and trust God with the results. Well, the result was in my first week there, I lost 14 pounds in three days. You say, well, that sounds fantastic. That's a great weight loss program, maybe, but it was not that enjoyable.
I can promise you. I call it the rapid expulsion method of weight loss, but anyway, eventually I got adjusted to the food there, and I actually learned to love it, and now I love in every language. I love to hear the words, let's eat. Coming to the table is not usually only about meeting our hunger needs, however. It's also about connection. It's about relationship. Eating with somebody is, of course, one of the most intimate connections that you can make with them. A meal together is fellowship. It is engagement. It's friendship.
It is acceptance. I saw some incredible statistics in the Wall Street Journal not long ago about the social importance of family meal times on children. One Harvard medical study showed that kids who ate regularly with their parents were considerably healthier and, get this, 72% less likely to experience depression, to struggle with self-esteem, to have suicidal thoughts, to develop eating disorders or use illegal drugs than kids who did not eat regularly with their parents.
Meals are important. So all that to say, it is good news. It is good news when Jesus tells us repeatedly in Luke 14, it is time to come to the table. It's an invitation.
I want you to hear this for the next couple of weeks. It is an invitation for you. It's an invitation for those of you who do not know Christ, or for whatever reason, don't feel like you fit into a group like this one. It's an invitation for people who feel far from God because of their past or because of mistakes that they have made, feel like you don't belong here. It's an invitation for you not just to get forgiveness of your sins, but to have your souls renewed. It is an invitation for you to meet Jesus in a real and very tangible way at the table. It is an invitation for those of you who know Jesus, but for whatever reason you have left him, it is an invitation for you to come back home to him. I have the privilege to stand before you today to say to you on his behalf, come back to the table.
Everything is ready. Not just come back to church, not just get religious, but come back into fellowship with Jesus Christ and with the community of believers. I talked to a girl in a store the other day here in our community, and she found out that I was a pastor. That always brings up the most interesting conversations. And she said, what I often hear from people when they find out I'm a pastor, she said, oh, she said, yeah, I used to really be in church, but I just got to be honest with you.
I've really wandered far from God, and I feel like maybe I need to go back. And I said, well, you are so in luck. This weekend is amnesty weekend here at the Summit Church, which means you can come on in and sit down, no questions asked whatsoever. So if you made it here today, by the way, welcome. A little inside secret, every weekend is amnesty weekend here at the Summit Church.
You can always come in, no questions asked, but it just sounded cooler like I made it sound like it was one particular week. So anyway, here's what we're going to do today. We're going to look at how Jesus extends the invitation to us and what keeps a lot of people from receiving that invitation. And then at the end of our service today, I'm going to offer you a couple of things. First, and most important, I'm going to give you a chance to receive Jesus's offer, to be your savior if you have never done so.
To come back to the table to either begin or renew a personal relationship with him. If you have any questions about where you stand with Jesus, I'm going to help you settle those at the end of this message. Second, I'm going to give you a chance to be baptized today on the spot if you never have. You see, baptism is the first thing that you and I are supposed to do after receiving Jesus as our savior. We always call it the going public of your faith. It's not salvation, it's the symbol of salvation.
It is where you declare to everybody else that you are not ashamed to take Jesus Christ as your own. Maybe you became a Christian several years ago. Maybe you've become a Christian in the last few weeks. Maybe you're going to become a Christian today. Either way, whatever category you're in, if you've never been baptized as a profession of your faith, we want to give you that chance. I know that I'm talking to a lot of people here who have been baptized, but I'm also talking to a lot of people who have not been for whatever reason.
I'm going to try to show you that none of those reasons are valid and that you need to make that decision, all right? Luke 14, Jesus starts his invitation to the banquet with what appears to be random social advice. I want to try to show you it's not random at all. Let's start there because that's where Jesus starts his discussion of the banquet. Context, by the way, for Luke 14 is Jesus is himself at a party. So verse seven, he tells a parable to those who were invited when he noticed how they chose the places of honor. They were always angling to get the best seats closest to the host, the most important seats. He said, you know, when you're invited by somebody to a wedding feast, don't sit down in the places of honor.
You know why? Because somebody more distinguished than you might get invited to the party and then he who invited you both will come and say to you, hey man, you need to give your place to this other more important person. And then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. And that's going to be embarrassing.
You don't want that to happen. Verse 10, but when you're invited, you should go and sit in the lowest place. Go down and sit down at the end of the table so that when your host comes in, he might say to you, hey friend, move up higher. Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you as you strut up to the high place. For everybody who all exalts himself will be humbled and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
Now at first, like I said, that just seems like really good practical advice, right? A little random, but good nonetheless. It's not usually a good idea to thrust yourself into the most important seats in a room because you just might be setting yourself up for potential embarrassment. It happened to me this very week. I took a flight on JetBlue. I normally fly Delta and I am platinum on Delta because unfortunately I have to fly enough that I'm in priority seating. And so they announced priority seating on JetBlue. And so I just waltzed my way up to the front because I assumed the airlines have this little understanding that once you're important on one airline, you're important on every airline. So I get all the way up to the gate and the woman there at the gate takes my ticket and says, in an unnecessarily loud voice, I might add, sir, you are not in priority seating. Your line is back over there. And she points to all the people who are back there. They're drooling.
They got their clothes in garbage bags. And some guy's got a goat under his right arm. And he says, you got to go sit over there. And so I had the walk of shame back to the other line. And that's embarrassing. And you want to kind of avoid that, right?
Or to bring it a little closer into Jesus's analogy here. So you get invited to the boss's daughter's wedding reception, but you get there late and you're looking for a seat. And you notice that there are some chairs open at table one at that little, you know, one that's on the platform up there looking over the rest of the party. And so you make your way up there and you sit down at that table. It's going to be embarrassing when the host comes up and says, ah, who do you think you are?
This is for the boss's friends and family. Your seat is not at this table. It's back over there and points back, not even to a table, but that little row of chairs, you know, that line, the room outside there. And that's going to be embarrassing when you have that long walk of shame in front of everybody. So you want to avoid that. Now that's just good social advice, right? Good social advice, but it seems random.
It's not random. Let's keep going. Verse 15. So when one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, well, blessed is everybody who's going to eat bread in the kingdom of God. Blessed are you if you get invited to God's party. Verse 16, but Jesus said to him, all right, well, let's talk about that.
A man once gave a great banquet and he invited many. By the way, isn't it awesome that Jesus presents the kingdom of God like a party? What is your image of heaven? When you think about heaven, what do you think about?
Like eternal choir practice or, you know, sitting up there on clouds in a colorless universe, playing your harp and shooting your nerf arrow gun and being bored all day long? I just always have thought it's awesome that when Jesus chooses an image for the kingdom of God or heaven, he chooses the image of the ultimate party. Or how about this, how awesome is it that when Jesus does his inaugural miracle, the first miracle to begin his ministry, what is it? He fixes the broken tap at a party.
They'd run out of wine and so he fixes it so they got the best wine they've ever tasted. Now you think an inaugural miracle is supposed to set the tone for the rest of everything else, right? If that's Jesus's inaugural miracle that's gonna set the tone for the rest of his ministry, why wouldn't it be something like raising the dead or maybe, you know, maybe casting out a demon? His inaugural miracle is restoring the joy at a party because that is summarizing all of his ministry. He's not just raising us from the dead. He's not just casting out demons. He's doing it because God created us for the ultimate party, a party with joy and laughter and fellowship and friendship. Is that your image of the kingdom of God, right? Because what that means is that all that you experience down here at the very best party you've ever been to, fellowship, friendship, food, drink, worship in a place like this, all that is just hors d'oeuvres for the eternal party.
I can't wait, I can't wait. Verse 17, and at that time for the banquet, he sent his servant to say to those who have been invited, come for everything is now ready. You see, in those days, there were really two invitations that went out for a big feast. The first, you see, what happens is in those days, there were too many moving pieces to set an exact time. You had people that had to come in from out of town and you didn't know exactly when they were gonna get there. Plus when you didn't have refrigeration, it was hard to arrange all the food to get there at the right time. So they would send out a first invitation that was like a save the date and they would give you basically a week, sometimes a month range.
It'll be sometime in October, so just keep those dates open. And then you would get a second invitation when everything was ready and they would say, all right, table's all set up, all the guests are here, all the out of town guests, so come on. What you've got in this parable is a group of people who said yes to the first invitation, but then when the second invitation came that said it was now ready, they, verse 18, all light began to make excuses.
And the first one said to this messenger, well, I bought a field and I gotta go out and see it, please have me excused. Which, you know, doesn't really make any sense. I mean, who lays out a bunch of cash for a piece of property they've never even seen? And even if it were true that he hadn't seen the property and he's already bought it, I mean, it's not going anywhere, it's dirt. You should just wait and see it tomorrow if that were really true.
So it's a pretty lame excuse. Verse 19, another one said, well, I can't come because I bought five yoke of oxen and I gotta go examine them. Now, again, that would have been a major investment in those days. They say that one yoke of oxen would have been about a half a year's salary. So the five yoke of oxen would have been two and a half years salary. You don't lay out that kind of money for a bunch of oxen you've never seen. I mean, you don't buy a car like that, right? And for most of you, that's not two and a half years income, but you don't buy a car like, hey, I bought a car last night in the internet.
What kind is it? I don't know, I gotta go look at it. You wouldn't do that. That's a lame excuse. Verse 20, then another one said, well, I married a wife, therefore I can't come. Right, right. Because the last thing that a new wife wants is to get all dressed up and put on heels and go to a rich person's party. Y'all, is it true, newlyweds are so dirt poor that they're looking for any chance for a free meal they can get that first year of marriage.
Amen. When my wife and I got married, she had $13 to her name. And I was working part time at this church, which means I had about $7 to my name. Which means that basically that entire first year of marriage, we ate food that ended in eatos, Doritos, Fritos, Taquitos, Cheetos. That's all we ate. So yep, we accepted just about every invitation that you gave us for a free meal. So in other words, this is a pretty lame excuse too.
The point is all these excuses are lame. So the servant came and reported these things back to the master. And the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, you go out quickly to the streets and the lanes of the city and bring in the poor and the crippled and the blind and the lame. Now there are two shocking things about this story. The first is that the original people didn't come after they'd said yes. The second and far more shocking thing is that this rich guy would then turn and fill up his house with the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.
That's not how rich people behaved back then. Verse 22, and the servant said, okay, we did all that. What you've commanded has been done and there's still room at this party. The master said to the servant, all right, we'll go out to the highways and the hedges and compel people to come in so that my house may be filled. Now we just took the gloves off because in Jewish culture saying highway people and hedge people meant the moral outcasts of society. These people are not just poor, they're so outside the pale, they're not even allowed in the city.
Street people, miscreants, misfits, moral reprobates, ex-cons, sex offenders, whoever you want to put in that category. Those who are not welcomed in polite society, you go bring them into my party, Jesus said. Verse 24, for I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my banquet. By the way, do you notice how Jesus there switched into the first person? Up until this point, he's been telling a story, but now he shows it's personal to him because he's the master in this story, and those people that he's telling the story to, they're the ones who've been making the excuses. This parable, you see, listen, is the summation, Jesus's summation of Israel's response to him. God had invited Israel to his party and they had accepted, but now they're making excuses as to why they won't respond to Jesus. Religious people, this is a story about religious people because they're people who have accepted the first invitation, they're part of the community of God, they're part of the people of God. Yet when it actually comes to surrendering to Jesus, when it comes to really experiencing the gospel, they demure because they don't really see how desperate they are without this invitation.
We'll get into that in a second. The point for you to see right now is that there's a lot of people in a community like this one, a lot of religious people who have accepted the first invitation, that they wanna be a part of the people of God, but they've never actually gone through with a full relationship to Jesus as I will show you. So Jesus then turns to the gathered crowds and he says this, verse 26, if anybody comes to me, you see, and he doesn't hate his own father and mother and his wife and his children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Now y'all, Jesus's statement there really confuses some people. They're like, well, I hate your wife and your children? Hate your parents? I mean, doesn't the Bible teach us to love all those people?
Well, yes, of course. Hate here is a comparative term. Compared to our love and our commitment to Jesus, every other commitment in our lives, even the most intimate and important commitments like our commitment to our spouse or our children or our parents, even those commitments should feel like hate. Think of it like this. If you got a dog, you probably love your dog in some sense. But say a robber came in and pointed a gun at your dog and your child and said, I'm gonna shoot one of the two. You choose which one. It's not really a choice, right?
The right answer here is right. It's not really a choice, okay? Because yeah, you love your dog, but compared to your love for and commitment to your child, your love for your dog would feel like hate. Jesus is saying that compared to his importance in our lives, every other commitment we have, even that to our children, our parents, or even our comfort or our own lives should feel like hate. Is that how you feel about Jesus?
Listen, this is crazy talk. For Jesus to turn around and save this group of people, that's like the number one way to kill a movement, right? The only way you would ever go through with that is if there was something about Jesus that was so essential to your life that all of those other things without Jesus were absolutely nothing. Jesus has to have the first place in your life to such an extent that you would say compared to him, I hate my friends. Compared to him, I hate my wife. I hate my children.
I hate even my own life. And some of you are like, I've never heard this before. And yet there it is in the Bible. You have to be so committed to Jesus that every other relationship compared to how devoted and committed you are to him seems like hate. Are you like that with Jesus Christ? Three things this parable shows us about why good people, religious people, respectable people, why good people, so to speak, miss the kingdom of God. Number one, Jesus is showing us that some people miss the party because they fail to recognize the importance of the invitation. These excuses that are given are not evil in themselves, right? I mean, none of them were like, hey, sorry, I can't come.
I gotta do a drug deal or I run a dog fighting ring and that's why I can't come. No, they're all rather anemic excuses, yet they become evil because they're used to justify ignoring something of extreme importance, right? I mean, even if the excuses sounded legitimate to you, you're like, well, JD, I think you're being a little hard on him. I mean, the dude's got a new wife, give him a break.
He wants to hang out with her at home. Even if they sound legitimate, they become illegitimate when you compare them to the importance of the invitation, right? I mean, sometimes when I'm at my office, for example, I'll get a phone call and I'm meeting with another pastor. So my assistant will say, sorry, he can't take the phone call because he's meeting with somebody else. Sometimes I'm not even meeting with somebody. Sometimes I'm just in the zone and I'm working. And I know that it would just be too distracting to take the phone call.
So I'll say, not now, I got to stay in the zone. Those are legitimate excuses. Unless the person on the other end of the line is my wife and she's like, our house is on fire, or one of our kids just got hurt, or I'm pregnant, right? Any of those would suddenly make any excuse that I got going on, would make them seem irrelevant compared to the importance of this invitation.
All the other excuses are lame. The question Jesus is asking is, how important is an invitation from God? If you really did get an invitation from God, do you really think there's anything in life that would justify you putting it aside and not giving it your urgent attention? Last year, when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry got married, a huge error was made when the invitations were sent out, one for which Buckingham Palace has still not officially apologized. And I'm referring, of course, to the fact that I never got my invitation, okay? So I went online just to see what one looked like, just so I would recognize it if it came in the mail, so Veronica wouldn't actually throw it away.
So I found one online, and the opening line was awesome. The Lord Chamberlain. The Lord Chamberlain, I thought I was going to picture it. The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by the queen to invite, and then it puts whoever's name is being invited. Now, I just have to wonder how many people got that invitation and were like, oh, bummer, I just bought some oxen, and I got to go check those oxen out. Or I got some land I need to go take a look at. The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by the queen to invite J.D. Greer to Buckingham Palace.
I'm going oxen or no oxen. The Lord Jesus Christ, he is saying, has been commanded by the sovereign God to extend to you an invitation to his banquet. It's an invitation to the poor, the lame, the crippled, the blind, the street people, the hedge people, the highway people.
It's an invitation for lost people to be found, for broken people to get put back together, for addicts to be set free, for lonely people to come to community, for those of us who have shame and regret, to have it lifted, to have sins forgiven and hostility destroyed. If that were really the invitation that you're receiving, shouldn't that trump everything else in your life? By the way, some of you are like, well, I'm not even sure this invitation is from God. I mean, I don't even know if the Bible is the word of God.
That's valid, I get that. I understand that that's your objection, but if that's really what you think, isn't that the question you should be devoting most of your energy and time to figuring out? I do not understand people that are like, I don't know, it might be God, might be God, I don't really care. I think they're called apotheists. Atheist means I know there's no God. Apotheist means I'm not sure and I don't care.
That doesn't make any sense. If there's a chance it is from God, that demands your utmost attention. If you believe the Bible might be the word of God, you need to figure out whether it is, because what if it is what it says it is? I know an atheist professor who says that every year, he asks his freshman class, how many of you believe the Bible is the word of God?
It's a college here in the south. He says about two-thirds of the students will raise their hand and say, I believe the Bible is the word of God. He's like, okay, of those of you who have your hand raised, how many of you have read it all the way through? He said in a room full of like 200, he said maybe two, maybe three people on average. He said, okay, same group. You believe the Bible is the word of God?
How many of you have read the Harry Potter books all the way through? He says two-thirds of the audience will raise their hand. He says, I don't actually think you believe it's the word of God.
I have to agree with him. If you actually believe it is the word of God, then of course you would devote yourself to understanding what it said. It doesn't make any sense for you to say this might be from God, and I don't really care.
Ask yourself, what if the things the Bible says about eternity are true? A challenging question that all of us must consider from Pastor G.D. Greer. So G.D., yesterday we concluded your teaching through the book of Daniel.
Let's take a big step back for a second. What are you hoping our listeners took away from your month-long series titled Daniel Shining in Babylon? We're hoping to show people what it looks like to shine for Jesus in the midst of a dark and hostile culture. We're supposed to be like Daniel, a part of Babylon's life in her business structures, in her government even.
And we're supposed to be there as a part of this city and this culture, loving it and embracing it, but willing to be different in all the ways that the Bible calls us to be different. We want to give you a Bible study that will take you even deeper into these passages and maybe help you see some things that I wasn't able to cover in the messages. It's a nine-session Bible study to take you into these passages. If you go to jdgreer.com right now, it'll show you how you can reserve your copy today. When you give right now to support this ministry, we'll express our gratitude as well as the gratitude of your fellow listeners by sending you the workbook Pastor JD mentioned titled The Book of Daniel Shining in Babylon. It's only available through tomorrow, so you'll want to request your copy right now by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220 or give online at jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vitovich encouraging you to join us tomorrow as we continue our new series Come to the Table. Be sure to listen Wednesday to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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