Accepting the Invitation

Accepting the Invitation (Luke 14:7-24)

My husband put the mail on the kitchen counter. I quickly glanced at the electric bill, a credit card solicitation, a postcard committee meeting reminder, a Kmart sale flier—and then an ivory vellum envelope with our address handwritten in black ink calligraphy caught my eye. I opened it to find a paneled invitation to a wedding for the daughter of my husband’s high school friend. The reception was to be in a fine hotel with a sit-down dinner and live orchestra. A layer of delicate parchment protected the embossed text. The bottom of the invitation had the letters: R.S.V.P., or “The favor of your reply is requested.” I returned the enclosed R.S.V.P. card in the envelope provided with return address and stamp saying we would be honored to attend.

In Luke 14, Jesus uses parables from social etiquette to illustrate his teaching on,

1. Humility, a study in contrasts.

2. Hospitality that meets needs and brings people to Christ.

3. His invitation to the greatest banquet of all—eternal life.

Humility (vv. 7-11)

The rich Pharisees sometimes invited Jesus into their homes and often the exchange between them became strained. They looked for ways to trap Jesus. At one particular dinner Jesus noticed how the guests clamored to pick places of honor at the table. He told them a parable to teach them the value of personal humility. He said when you are invited to a wedding feast you should not assume to sit at the bride and groom’s table. (In those days the VIPs usually arrived late.) You may be embarrassed when you are asked to move. Instead, he told them, sit in a less conspicuous seat, and then if the family invites you to their table you will be honored in the presence of the guests. His words in v. 11, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted,” teach us that God will judge our acts, revealing our motives. The truly humble will be exalted.

Hospitality (vv. 12-14)

Jesus observed that the rich Pharisees invited each other to their homes for dinner. It all seemed so excessive and self-absorbed. He again spoke to them saying, don’t just invite your friends and family, those people you know and are comfortable with. They may invite you back and you will be repaid. Instead, invite someone who cannot repay you. He promises them they will be repaid for this kind of hospitality “at the resurrection of the righteous!”

One of the greatest challenges facing the church today in our very impersonal world concerns the need for hospitality—hospitality that creates community among Christians, and then radiates into the greater community attracting people to become believers. Jesus isn’t saying we should never have family and friends for dinner. He is telling us to get out of our comfort zones and seek out people who need friendship. Put up your antenna to detect a visitor to your services and invite them to come home with you for coffee and dessert. Encourage your children to invite their friends who may not go to church to stay for dinner. Seek ways to get to know your neighbors, invite them into your home. People are brought to Christ through relationships.

The Greatest Banquet of All (vv. 16-24)

One man at the table listening intently to Jesus, burst into the discussion saying, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” This man seems confident he will be there! (He evidently didn’t get the part on humility.) Jesus proceeds to give a word of warning—is he sure he will he be ready to accept the invitation?

Jesus tells about a man who invited many guests to a great banquet. One by one he received back the R.S.V.P. cards. One read, “I regret I will not be able to accept your kind invitation as I have a previous business obligation on that date.” Another read, “I will be unable to attend as we have just bought a vacation home and will be away,” and “I regret I cannot accept your invitation to dinner because I will be on my honeymoon!”

Angered that no one was coming, the man sent out invitations to the elderly and lonely, the poor, the unwed mothers, the alcoholics and addicts, the disabled and grieving, and when there was still room in the house, he extended the invitation beyond the town, inviting any who would come until his house was full. Jesus says, “I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.”

The wedding we attended for my husband’s high school friend’s daughter was fabulous to every detail, but it doesn’t compare to the banquet God has planned for us. Jesus has requested the favor of your reply to his invitation. It’s a forever party you don’t want to miss! Accept the invitation and bring someone with you—until his house is full!

Brothers and Sister have YOU R.S.V.P.?

Have YOU answered the invitation?

There is no reason not to, there is no better company to keep, there is no reason you will be sorry for.

I hope I have a chance to meet all of YOU in the here-after.

evesadam
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