Daily Update #152

Today’s Readings  Philippians 2:5-11. Psalm 22:22-27.    Luke 14:15-24.

“Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15).

The first verse in today’s gospel reading looks fair enough. It quotes a guest at the house of a prominent Pharisee. He and fellow diners were at a meal attended by Jesus. They had already seen Jesus heal a man with dropsy. He had  also rebuked the guests for scrambling for the best seats and the host for inviting his family, friends and prominent people rather than those in greater need. The guest’s smarmy comment (v15) now stimulated Jesus into sharing the ‘Parable of the Great Banquet’. The great irony here is that, like our ‘clever-clogs’ guest, the religious leaders were testing Jesus out and totally failing to realise that they were dining with the long – promised Messiah!

This parable is quite similar to the ‘Parable of the Wedding Banquet’ in Matthew 22 in which a king’s invited guests fail to turn up for his son’s wedding feast and he sends out his servants to find substitute guests. It also follows Jesus’ teaching about the narrow door to salvation:“People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed, there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last” (Luke 13:29-30). God’s kingdom is for people from all nations, of all types and backgrounds, not just the respected or ‘respectable’.

Double invitations were common in Jesus’ time. The guests would be invited for a particular day and those who had agreed to come would be summoned on that day as soon as the feast was ready. So the guests in this parable had already accepted their invitations. They come up with ludicrous last minute ‘smoke-screening’ excuses in order to cry off on the day. How insulting to the generous host to let him down in this way! Jesus is challenging His hearers, including us, about our responses when God invites us through Jesus to enjoy His blessings – both here and now and in heaven. The clear message of this parable is that we must take care not to let God down by making excuses that only reveal our own alternative priorities. Those who reject God’s invitation will miss out. Meanwhile those whom we too easily write off, once they accept God’s invitation to come to Him, will experience both His presence and the everlasting celebrations promised to all who trust in Jesus and follow Him.  

Some people feel that they love God as much as anyone else but also find excuses concerning their time, possessions, family and personal circumstances for doing their own thing. They probably include you and me! God’s invitation is still “Come, for everything is now ready” (v17). We must not ‘accept’ God’s invitations to us, and later make flimsy and selfish excuses for setting them aside. We can fool ourselves but not God. When you next find yourself making an excuse to God, do double-check whether you are about to let Him down. In our prayers for each other let’s ask God to help us always to say ‘yes’ to Him and thereby to enjoy each blessing He wishes to give us!

TODAY’S PRAYER:

Dear Father, please forgive us for all the times when when we have deliberately and selfishly gone our own way. Forgive us too when we have made weak excuses for pursuing our own preferences rather than your will. Help us to grow in your grace today and to become more like Jesus in our obedience to You. We thank you Lord that you delight to bless us. As we make decisions each day, may we keep in step with the Holy Spirit and always say ‘yes’ to you. AMEN

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