Friday, November 7, 2008

God Will Call Three Times

The title of this blog is inspired by three parables in Luke. You will recognize the different time periods of God's calling to the Human Family.

In Luke, chapter 14, verses 7-24, Jesus tells three parables. I’ve been looking at these three parables for a few hours, now. I’ve read some commentary on them and have observed the lessons the authors of the commentary point to. However, I can not seem to make myself agree with any one commentator. I see visions from my own life I would like to apply these parables to. So, I will. But, first excuse me; this is possibly the longest post I have written to date. I apologize for this. However, I would not have kept pursuing it if I were not going to bring something valuable to you.

I do not intend to promote only my understanding of these parables. I do have a few ideas of my own. So, what I intend to do, is to borrow some lessons from the commentators and blend in some of my understanding with application from my life. Let’s begin with verses 7-11…

7When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8"When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."


Vicki, my wife and I were completely bran new to a particular church. We chose to attend this church because of its reputation for academic Bible study.

When it was time to go to the sunday school class we decided to attend, we were early. Vicki and I chose a table in the middle of the room. We removed our coats and placed them over the chairs we intended to sit in. We sat our Bibles on the table in front of the chairs. As people began to come into the room, Vicki and I separated and were talking to people. She and I both kept an eye on our belongings. Then, we both saw an elderly woman walk up to the table. She looked at my things. Made a deliberate move toward the chair, removed my coat and placed it at the table behind her and shoved my Bible to the center of the table. Vicki began to approach her and I raised my voice saying, “It’s o.k.” One of the men at the table was about to address her when he realized what was happening. I said, “No, don’t worry about that”.

From those first five verses, verses 7-11, I see some similarity. The man who was seated at the table we were about to sit at, was one of the teachers in the church. This teacher is very educated and respected there. He was about to address the woman. This would have caused her humiliation. (By the way, we never did see this lady in sunday school class after that day). My thoughts went to the idea of placing self before others. I began to make assessments of this type of behavior and considered this woman to have a lack of understanding of the character of Christ from whom she should be following as an example. I also placed consideration on her spiritual condition. My thoughts were, “She does not display love on others in the way Christ said, we “must love one another”. And, then, the idea of her reward, if this is any indication of what the rest of her life is like. She is likely to be humiliated and not be in a good place when the Host of Host places her in the place reserved for her.

12Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."


In verses 12-14, Jesus tells the host to not merely invite people with whom the host is familiar. Because these people may feel a sense of obligation and in turn, invite the host to their homes. Then, the reward the host receives is to simply be returned the favor. However, if the host will invite those whom he normally does not spend time with and has not made a relationship with and whom he can expect nothing in return from, then the host displays effacement and not self promotion. The host then has the opportunity to befriend these people. How opportune would this be for a Christian? We would give ourselves the open door to share the Gospel Message. Now, in today’s standard of civilization, I do not recommend we open our homes in such a way. However, I know we can find ways to reach out to those whom we do not regularly encounter and are strangers with. Then, there is the opportunity for sharing the Gospel.

Four points from http://www.xenos.org/teachings/nt/luke/gary/luke14-1.htm

1. Self-promotion views higher roles as positions of greater power and privilege over others (POSTMODERNISM’S INSIGHT INTO HUMAN NATURE).
2. Self-effacement views higher roles as positions of greater service to others (Mk. 10:42-45).
3. Self-promotion takes advancement into one's own hands ("ITCH" to keep climbing; PUSHING, POLITICKING, THREATENING, CALLING IN FAVORS, etc.).
4. Self-effacement puts advancement into God's hands (1 Pet. 5:6; NOT LAZY OR PASSIVE—BUSY SERVING AT YOUR POST; SCHAEFFER’S “EXTRUSION”).
The Parable of the Great Banquet

15When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God."
16Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.'
18"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.'
19"Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.'
20"Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.'
21"The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'
22" 'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.'
23"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.' "


http://books.google.com/books?id=DixbpWbCEE8C&pg=PA118&lpg=PA118&dq=Biblical+Custom+Invitation+to+a+banquet&source=web&ots=stHRIv7Ghi&sig=GZZ6PhJuT2pRysXMUlqIzLEhU8M&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result#PPA118,M1

Wow! What a long link!

The following custom was taken from the above link on the ‘Cultural Dictionary of the Bible’.

“Double invitations to banquets were common (See Luke 14:16-17). During the time between the first and second invitation, those invited checked out the reputation of the host, the rest of the guest list and sought other information needed to decide whether to attend or decline when the time came.”

If this is your shin-dig, you are going to be insulted. But, this party is being staged by the Lord.
Are you going to check out His credentials and see whose name is written in the Book of Life before you decide you are going? Well, believe it or not, people do that. I am often hearing of what a person says they think God will do and not do in the way of imposing judgment. Then, the line that always seems to take me aback; “If this is what God is like, I don’t want to go to Heaven!” We’ve all heard this nonsense. So, I would say this portion of the parable is to represent the Jewish community. They took a look at Jesus and said, ‘No thanks. That is not my God.’

Isaiah 54:2 reminds us that God is planning something very big. He is making room for many, many guest and will not be put off.
2 "Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.


So, after whatever Jews decide to accept God’s invitation, there are the Gentiles. The servant is told to go out into the streets and bring those who can not have a relationship with this wealthy, dignified, person because their status is something far below His standard. They have not prepared to ‘fraternize’ with such high society folk as this. How out of place they will be! Except, in the kindness and generosity of this Master, their status is just as even as those whom had first been invited. (Those lame, crippled, blind and poor are the Gentiles whom could not come on their own as God had not been keeping a relationship with these. Obviously, the time period is beginning with Pentecost. Prior, not many Gentiles were coming to the Lord)

The servant has gathered up as many as he can find, and now there is still room. With a sense of urgency in the Master’s voice, He demands that the servant go out to the entire world to ‘make them come in’.

Who are these people? I think they are those who have chosen a different master. This Master is saying, ‘They belong under my roof! Go and make them come!”
So, what we are witnessing here is three groups of persons. None of them chose to seek the Lord. And the Lord invites in a pattern that expresses a sense of urgency. The first, group to be invited was one who was simply asked to ‘come’. The second group was sent for with the words ‘bring in’. And the third group was sent for by a servant who was told to ‘compel’ the guest.

The lesson, of course is that God has been patient with us who just do not value the relationship God has made available. God has made this relationship available first to the Jews, then the Gentiles and now to those who go after all forms of idolatry. Time is getting short, there are those whom God came to, the Jews whom have received Christ, there are those Gentiles whom God came to whom received Christ. And now, we Christians are being told ‘Go and compel them to leave their gods and be my people’.

21 comments:

Nitewrit said...

Jim,

A lot of good stuff to think about. One statement I need some clarification on: "(Those lame, crippled, blind and poor are the Gentiles whom could not come on their own as God had not been keeping a relationship with these. Obviously, the time period is beginning with Pentecost. Prior, not many Gentiles were coming to the Lord)"

When the Holy Spirit came to the Disciples they were in jerusalem and the city was full of Jews from all over because it was one of the required days. They went out and spoke to the Jews. Between Pentecost and Chapter 8 of Acts, all their efforts appear directed to Jews, until Phillip goes to Samaria and converts Samaria. But Samarians were half-Jews.

The first instance to a gentile appears to be Phillip's with the Egyptian Eunuch. He is ordered by an Angel to go to this non-Jew and that seems the first step out to the gentiles.

It is at this time Saul is converted to paul, who is to be the Apostle to the Gentiles, so again this seems the beginning of the outreach to Gentiles to me more than Pentacost.

It is in Chapter 10 that God gives Peter the vision of the full of all the animals and birds and tells him to "kill and eat". Peter first refuses, saying he has "never eaten anything impure or unclean". God tells him, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

This comes about because peter is to go to Cornelius the Roman Centurian and the man's party, gentiles all. This seems to me when the "time of the gentiles" began.

Larry

Vicki said...

Hi Larry,
First, let me comment on your fantastic insights. This is nonconsequential to our response to dining at the banquet, but it is interesting.
Technically, I would have to say that the call to evangelize the world came at the ascention of Jesus when He commanded the disciples to go out into all the world, first in Judea and then to the uttermost parts of the earth, which by the way, is in some form at the end of each Gospel.
The disciples were told to wait until the Holy Spirit came upon them. Pentecost. The movement outward into the world seems to be pretty quick. How long really was there? Weeks, Months, a few years? No matter, it was as Jesus commanded: first in Judea, then Samaria, and to the rest of the world. Thanks, Larry.
Jim, you were concerned that this blog was too long. As you know, I sat down with a fresh cup of coffee and read intently. Perhaps it is long, but it is concise and extremely interesting. I liked the fact that you studied and applied your own life situations. This is exactly what I think the Lord wants intelligent people to do. Thinking this was going to be a long haul, I actually was disappointed when it was at the end. My response is what should be the response of a true believer when hearing heanvenly words: Yes, I believe. I do not need to be compelled to come to the banquet. I suppose I fear that when the heavenly banquet really occurs, I will be found dilly dallying along the way, doing something foolish. I know, I know, the Lord is gracious. Truly I would have to say NO, I have some well sounding, but certainly stupid reason for not walking on the road called Holiness.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. My friends, most of you reading have responded with a firm YES. If you haven't, please taste and see. Start your journey toward the feast of the Lamb.

Jody said...

Just saying hi, did scan this and will come back to it, like Larry said, a lot of good stuff to think about. Jody

Angela said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jeleasure said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeleasure said...

Hi Larry,
My wife said much more than I was intending to comment in reply.
What I was going to say to clarify is that my statement says, "not many Gentiles were coming to the Lord" prior to Pentecost. Pentecost marks out the beginning of the movement among men by the Holy Spirit.
You made a good point in your discussion on the Samarian converts. Half Jewish, half Gentile.

Nitewrit said...

Jim,

I'm glad your wife reminded me that the command was to go first to the Jews, then to Judea and then to the whole world. Which is the sequence we see.

I didn't feel your post was really too long, but as you see, I tend to get long-winded myself. :)

Larry

Tamela's Place said...

Hello Jim,

My husband and I had a not so pleasant experience a couple of years ago. We had planned a celebration and invited a bunch of friends and acquaintances. They all said that they would come but when the day arrived we did not get phone-calls nor did most show up. 30 people were supposed to come but only five showed up. We had bought T-bone steaks and all the works. We decided to make some phonecalls to find out where everyone was but they all had an excuse as why they couldn't be there. We thought how inconsiderate and rude of these people. They said that they would come and so we planned likewise and then no shows and not even a phone call. WE had even rented some extra table and chairs for our guests. To say the least i was very angry. I think i can understand the heart of the Master a little when He prepared for His guests out of the love of His heart and then they all made excuses.

There are many that still do that today to the Lord. He has prepared and given His best and Has invited many to come but sadly He still hears a lot of excuses.

Great post Jim it gives me alot to think about! Tamela :)

thekingpin68 said...

Hey Jim,

I have done a lot of reading the last couple of days and am going to take it easier now and do other stuff the rest of the night. Plus Shaw internet is slowing down tonight. You make some reasonable points with your article.

Things that come to mind as my NASB has the header 'Slighted Invitation':

From 7-11, one must make sure not to exalt self as one shall be humbled, better to be humble and be exalted. From 12-14, we are to be looking out for the poor and less fortunate and let God look after us. From 15-24 with the slighted invitation, Porter states in his Luke commentary in The International Bible Commentary that Gentiles are now included in the invitation.

jeleasure said...

Thanks Russ,
I know what you mean about having done a lot of reading for the day.
Your comments are in line with some of what I was thinking when I wrote this.
Jim

Greg said...

Hi, Jim. Funny thing about inviting folks who can't return the favor: that's just what Jesus did, when He died on that cross. :)

Near the end of your post, you seem to imply that Jesus will force people to come and be saved. I'm not sure if that's what you meant, but from my understanding of scriptures, there won't be anyone in Heaven who did not desperately wish to be there.

jeleasure said...

Hi Greg,
No, I don't mean that God will force people to come and be saved. I am just quoting Scripture from the NIV.

"23Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full."

I see that word "make" as to go and be more compelling. Which, I also stated in my explanation of the progression in the sense of urgency. Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify this.
Jim

preacherman said...

Jim,
I want to thank you brother for this thought provoking post. You have definately made me thing and challenged my belief. I want to think you for you blog stretching our hearts and minds. I hope you and viki are having a wonderful week. I want you to know that you both are in my thoughts and prayers as I wake up and go to bed. I also want you to know that I am going to encourage my reader to give it a check it definately worth the time and I know it was benital to me. I hope you have a blessed evening and week. Thank you so much for all you have done and continue to make my life meaning full and it defianately has strenched my grow in the Lord Almight. You and Viki have bee such a blessing. I pray everything you want in your ministry want and in every aspect of your life. I cannot think ya'll enough.

preacherman said...

P.S.
I love the music. :-)

Arlene Kasselman said...

I have waited to comment because I keep thinking of a million things but nothing is connecting well. So, instead of waiting to "land" this in my brain, let me just share what keeps coming to me.

I wonder if we lose something today when our hospitality or relationships are reserved simply for those like us who we "connect" with - what if Jesus is really calling us to share our lives and our dinner tables with people who are unlike us. Don't just read socio-economically - what if we intentionally choose to draw in closer to those in our churches who are either more conservative/more progressive than we are. What if we intentionally embark on relationships that are intergenerational?

I love the idea that the urgency is compelling in the invitation of Jesus.

jeleasure said...

Hi Arlene,
Thanks for commenting. You did great and I can tell that you have really been weighing in on this issue. Your words say that you have really been working on centering your thoughts.

jeleasure said...

Thanks PreacherMan

Arlene Kasselman said...

Jim
thanks for the links - I have been checking out the blogs you suggest and there is certainly a wealth of good thoughts there. I am in the process of trying to decide who to link to and how much blogging I can actually handle. Please do not think that because I have not exchanged links with those you suggest that I am uninterested. I am just so aware of my time restraints. Before I know it I find myself here at the computer for hours :-)

jeleasure said...

Hi Arlene,
Ref: how many to add to your blog list.
I would add as many as I can. There exist some sort of audit that ranks blogs on how many hits they get. This helps bring readers and if you join a listing, like 'goledy' (On my blog) you will move up in the listing according to how many hits you get.
I would also use a blog list and not a link list. You have a link list on your blog. A blog list would be better for you if you do not intend to have many links hosted on your blog. My reason for stating this is the links you host with a blog list will keep track of which of your blog list blogs are recently updated. So, if you began a blog list today, you could visit everyone to get on a fresh footing, then only visit those blogs that have been recently updated after that.
For your consideration.
Jim

Farrah said...

I enjoyed this post, and it did not feel long to me at all! :-) I like your point on the increase in urgency. I think that also shows how merciful and loving God is, how desperately He wants all men to be saved.

jeleasure said...

Thanks Farrah,
I enjoyed the research that was needed to study this passage. I must say, I randomly choose my blog material. So, whatever random devotional I land on, is what the topic will be. Sometimes I get nothing. And, other times, I feel as if God is directing me to find the answers. I was surprised at the results of this study.