Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Great Supper - sermon manuscript

Luke 14:15-24 – The Great Supper – What’s Your Excuse?

We are rich people. Few in our day and in our neighborhoods do without anything they need and probably very little they want. What our hearts desire in terms of material possessions, we are normally able to acquire. The United States of America throughout its history has had one of the largest and fastest growing economies ever seen. When it comes to material possessions, what do you really desire that you’ve been unable to get? Probably not very much. And our wealth extends far beyond this. When we’re cold, we’re able to get warm. When we’re hot, we’re able to get cool. When we need to go somewhere, we normally have a functioning car to get us there. When we’re bored, we have access to libraries, the internet, TV, movies, video games, music, and toys for all ages. When we’re out of shape, we can join a local gym and work out. If we’re lonely we can call anyone anywhere on this planet with a cellular phone. We are rich. There is literally no end to the ways in which we can distract ourselves from the most important issues that face us as men and women created in the image of God. If there has ever been a group of people in world history who would make excuses for turning away from God’s great supper – we are that people. Prosperity has always led to spiritual apathy and sluggishness. The greater the opportunity for distraction, the more likely people will be unaffected by the hope of the gospel of Christ.

This parable was told in the house of a leader of the Pharisees.

I. The Great Supper
[15] 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!" [16] Then He said to him, "A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, [17] and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, 'Come, for all things are now ready.'

This was no informal gathering to watch football and eat pizza. Nor was it a tea party with cookies and crackers. This was going to be a feast. No expense would be spared. This man prepared a great supper and invited many. This man wants to show his generosity and his bounty. This man wants his guests to eat well and be full when they leave. This man wants to throw open his storehouse and let all who come have all they want. A full house of satisfied guests was his aim and desire. He made great preparations – In his enormous house, He set a great table. He set up a great number of seats at that great table. He prepared a great amount of great food. He prepared a great amount of drink. He put out a great amount of money, and a great amount of planning, effort, and time, because He wanted it to be a great supper. And now after all of his expense, planning, preparation, and work, He wants a house filled with supper guests to enjoy the fruit of all his labor!

So he tells his servant at supper time to tell the ones he had invited, “COME, for all things are now ready!” After all his trouble, preparation, effort, and planning – at last it is ready. It is now time for those who had been invited to come and enjoy his great supper! We’ve worked long and hard, planned meticulously, made all the arrangements, and put things in place – let this momentous occasion begin now!

II. Excuses
[18] But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.' [19] And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.' [20] Still another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.'

It would seem they had already accepted their invitations, and this is why the master of the house made such great preparations. These excuses are dishonest and lame.

1. piece of ground – What person would go and look at a piece of land after they purchased it? These are not legitimate excuses
2. five yoke of oxen – no doubt a costly acquisition! What person would try out their strength after they purchased them?
3. The wife – there was nothing in the law that prevented a man from going to a great supper with a friend.

All of these things were regarded as better and more important than attending this great supper.

III. Zeal for a Full House
[21] So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.' [22] And the servant said, 'Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.' [23] 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.

But the master of the house will not be denied – He will have a full house to partake of his great supper. The lowly ones of the world are brought in. The poor are brought in, the lame, and the blind. What would be considered the refuse of society, they will enjoy this great supper while the rich, popular, strong, and wise will be left outside to weep and gnash their teeth! Jesus Himself said, “how difficult it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven!” Why is it that when poor parts of the world who finally receive the gospel, missionary activity explodes? Because they don’t have the distractions we do. They don’t have the securities we have. They don’t have so much weighing them down in terms of worldly concerns. All of the people in this parable had come across things they deemed more important that going to this great house for a great supper! All of them thought it was wonderful to be invited and were intending to go, which is why the master made such trouble to prepare such a great supper, but all of them had found something which was more important to them. It is what we do, not what we say, that betrays where we stand with God.

Forget what your words say to God, what does your life say to Him? What are you saying to God with your life?

Application –

The supper is eternal life in the halls of heaven. The excuses are the things that men hold on to instead of coming. The excuses are the sins whose claws have sunk deep into the hearts of the people invited. “It’s wonderful to be offered salvation, but I may have to give up this sin that I enjoy so very much!”

What’s your excuse?

Have you ever attended a wedding that was simply extravagant? No doubt the thought must have crossed your mind when you observed all the flowers, the settings, the clothes worn by the participants, the food, the drink, and the pomp and circumstance, “I wonder what it all cost?” Look at all that is here! The expense of all this must have been outlandish for such a great supper, such a great occasion! We often measure the greatness of a celebration or supper by the cost it took to prepare it. People often spend thousands of dollars on flowers alone for weddings. People send thousands of dollars on wedding dresses and bride’s maid dresses. And at great occasions people want to eat the finest of meats, the finest of drinks – and it all costs so very much.

I’m inviting you to the greatest supper in the entire universe – prepared by the Godhead Himself. The preparations of this great marriage feast began before the foundation of the world! The planning was meticulous. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit arranged it, planned it, and put it together. And the cost was greater than all the wealth of the entire world combined! What was the cost of the preparation of this supper? God sent forth His blessed and only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He was born into an animal’s feeding trough, lived under the evil eyes of Pharisees, he was argued with, spat upon, beaten, punched, scourged, tried, condemned, crucified, and buried. That was the cost! Consider the cost of this, the greatest of all suppers. It cost the precious blood of Christ. And people are excusing themselves from this great supper to look at land, try out oxen, or be with a new wife! Think of what they will miss! And for what? They had initially accepted their invitation, but now are making excuses. They are wanting to be excused from the greatest event in the whole history of the universe. All of you have been invited to participate in it – to eat of food and drink purchased by the death of Jesus Christ. This will be a feast for all eternity, to enjoy the bounty of God! What is anything in this world in comparison? People asked to be excused to hold on to what will be smashed and destroyed in an instant at the brightness of the coming of Jesus Christ. People miss out on God’s great supper for things which moths will eat, thieves will break in and steal, and rust will ruin. Consider the madness.

Why do people hold on to what will perish in an instant and deny the Great God of Heaven’s marriage supper of the Lamb? Is it worth the passing pleasures of sin?

Eccles. 5:10-11 He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.[11] When goods increase, They increase who eat them; So what profit have the owners Except to see them with their eyes?

People sell away their invitation to the greatest and most glorious event in all of history for what? For things they deemed more important.

What are the idols in your heart that come between you and God? What’s your excuse? I don’t care what you say – what do your deeds say to God?

What we do betrays where our hearts are.

The Bible says God doesn’t look at the outside, but considers our hearts. We may say we like listening to sermons, we may say we like to sing hymns, we may say we have a real interest in religion. But what we do is what betrays where we really stand. God doesn’t want or need your words – he wants you! He demands your total allegiance! What occupies the center of your being? What is it that drives you?

Are you coming? Did you say you would but have become distracted? How easily are we lulled to sleep in these church-saturated, gospel-saturated soils upon which we live?

God has assembled the greatest marriage supper any eye has ever seen and any mind has ever conceived. It cost Him the suffering and death of His Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

What’s your excuse? I say to you – Come. I say to you – don’t miss out on this great supper prepared by God. You have been invited. Are you coming? Or does your life betray that you have made an excuse? What are you saying to God by your life? What am I saying to God with my life?

Key Question: Do we long for that day, or are we perfectly content with our things here? Are you ready NOW and at EVERY MOMENT to drop everything in your life to attend His Great Supper? Is anything in front of God in your heart? What do your deeds say?

A POINT TO PONDER – Why does God prepare this supper at all? What have we done? And how to men respond to God’s grace, patience, and bounty. God, the wonderful Father, reaches down, picks us up to embrace Him and while holding us out in front of Himself to bring us close, we irreverently slap Him in the face.

The appearance of Jesus Christ in human history proves without question that God does love this world. Jesus came to pay the price to purchase a full house of guests to attend this great supper. Will you be there? Acknowledge your sin before God. Believe that Christ died for you and rose again the 3rd day. Make Christ’s work and His righteousness the only thing you trust in. Have you come to know Him? Do you believe the nails pierced His sacred hands and feet as the satisfaction to God’s justice in behalf of you and your sins against God? The salvation Christ offers this world is full and free – paid for in full. It is a gift of His free bounty. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Philip. 3:7-9 (NKJV)
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. [8] Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ [9] and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

If you can say these things with Paul about yourself, rejoice! God’s invitation to the great supper stands. Don’t make excuses!