March 1 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 14)

Submitted by Esther K.  from Gracepoint Davis Church

Luke 14:15-24

SOME IDEAS AND WORDS TO CONSIDER

Background of the Parable: 

“In Jesus’ day when you invited guests to a dinner, you told them the day but not the exact hour of the meal. Each of the guests in this parable had already agreed to attend the banquet.  The host expected them to be there.”

A great banquet

Who are the blessed people according to this passage?  Those who eat at the feast IN the kingdom of God.  Many guests were invited to the great banquet so many people had the opportunity to be blessed.  However, many people missed out on the great banquet and being blessed.  Who were the people who missed out? The guy who just bought a field, the guys who just bought 5 yoke of oxen, the person who just got married.  Clearly, those who made excuses and chose not to attend the banquet did not consider eating at the feast in the kingdom of God to be something great.  Though there is a great banquet and an offer to receive blessing, many people miss out on the God’s blessing because of these lesser things.  People don’t realize what are true blessings in life.  It’s so sad that people miss out on receiving blessings from God because they are enamored by new purchases and new seasons in their lives (getting a field, getting yoke of oxen and getting married).  It’s often the good things in our lives that divert us from being with God at the great banquet.

Field, oxen, marriage

3 different excuses. 3 reasons why people miss going to the banquet.

“The field.” The guy said that he needed to go and see this land that he just bought.  It’s not like the guy never saw the land.  He must have seen the land before he bought it.  Why would he want to go see the land?  There is power when one buys new things, especially land or a house. People somehow think they have a place on this earth that they can call their own.  My land.  My house.  Somehow buying a house or land is different than renting an apartment.  We feel bigger than ourselves, and we think we can do what we want with the house and land that is ours.  The land isn’t going to go anywhere.  Nor did the land change since the owner last saw it.  But it’s the land that became the excuse for him to miss out on the great banquet.  I’ve experienced the power of owning a house.  You think this is my house and you think about how you can decorate it and how you fix it up.  The thought that “I can make this place my own” causes people to focus on the house rather than other people or needs around them.  There’s no end to taking care of the land or house.

“The 5 yoke of oxen.”  Imagine what could be done with 5 yoke of oxen–a lot of land that you could plow.  That means a lot of crops that can be planted and harvested, which means a lot of money.  Wow!  This guy wanted to go home to try out his 5 yoke of oxen.  We are so enamored by the new things we buy whether an ipod, phone, computer, new car, new software, new camera.  We want to hold it, try it out.  There’s nothing wrong with 5 oxen or any getting any of these new things.  We can think about how we can get more work done, be more productive or create new things.  All of this is good, but there is never ending draw by all the new things we get and the idea of being more productive, getting more work done and in the end to get more money, more respect from my boss or even getting more thrills by using these new things in one’s life.  However, it’s sad that we miss out on the great banquet because of the 5 yoke of oxen in our lives.

“I just got married.”  We had 3 wedding this past weekend.  Each of these couples could say that I just got married so I don’t have time to go to the great banquet.  Why don’t they have time?  They need to settle in their new home, buy furniture and decorate their home.  Settle in. Also, these couples could be so enamored with one another that they just want to be with each other and are not interested in others.  Yes, marriage is a good thing.  However, marriage could cause us to miss out on true blessing of eating at the feast in the kingdom of God and leading others to the banquet.

I’ve had the privilege to taste God’s great banquet by listening to messages, by going to retreats, by hearing testimonies, and by seeing God answer our prayers, especially witnessing people surrendering their lives to Christ. Last week was a banquet indeed at our Davis retreat and then the church plant leads retreat.  I felt blessed as I sat there with God’s people listening to the messages, sharing from God’s word and being with God’s people.  I know that I need to make the most of these opportunities to connect to God so that I can daily be strengthened and filled by God’s words.

Submitted by Kit N. from Gracepoint Davis Church

Luke 14:15-24

What do their excuses reveal about their view of this great banquet that they were invited to?

Their excuses revealed that they didn’t have much regard for this invitation.  They each regarded what they had at that moment to be more important:  the first person his field, the second person his five yokes of oxen, and the last person his marriage.  Therefore by their actions they were saying that what they possessed were more important than this great banquet.  Considering what they were holding onto signify respectively (property, ability, relationships), they very succinctly represent the excuses people generally hold for not wanting to seek God or to take Christianity seriously.

Why were the excuses not acceptable to the master of the banquet, and why did they anger him?

These excuses were not acceptable because back in that culture the host would have already invited these guests beforehand, and they were now notified of the exact time of the banquet.  Because they already knew that this banquet would happen, to now make excuses for not coming is baffling to the master.  Their change of mind showed that they did not respect the master much.  Moreover, considering that these were unreasonable excuses:  wouldn’t he already have seen the field prior to buying the land?  Wouldn’t he test out the five yoke of oxen before buying them?  Wouldn’t he be able to come with his wife?  These excuses showed that they were not being honest with the master.  They should have been honest that they did not want to go, instead of making excuses and made them look like they were helpless in the situation.  I think apart from the disrespect, it is this layer of fakeness that angered the master as well.  This may be a side point to the narrative of the parable, but I also thought about the different layers of fakeness between others and me that I could easily fall for.  Instead of being honest and say what I want or don’t want, in order to look good, I would instead make up some excuses.  Instead of being blunt and direct, I instead cast myself as a victim to the circumstances and that’s why I couldn’t do this or that.  I think this side point of the parable reminds me how disrespectful it is to the other person when I engage in this kind of fakeness, because by my actions I am saying that I don’t want an open and honest relationship.  This point is particularly poignant especially when I was on the receiving end and I just wished that the person would just be honest and directly said what he wanted instead of fluffing up excuses to make himself come across better.  I am therefore reminded that there is no room for these foolish excuses with others and especially with God.

Think about how the owner of the house might have felt in v.17, v.21, and then v.23.

I think the owner of the house would have been filled with excitement thinking about how his banquet hall would soon be filled with guests whom he invited and whom he wanted to have a good time of fellowship with.  He would have high hopes that the guests would excitedly come and reciprocate his desire to relate with them as well. And then in v.21 when he heard about their excuses, he was definitely angry as the parable portrayed.  However it is interesting to see that he immediately ordered his servants to invite the downtrodden, the crippled, the poor, etc. to come.   Finally in v.23, even after all the crippled and poor are invited, the master continued to invite more guests till his house would be full. This generosity was borderline reckless which compelled him to invite anyone who would respond.  How would he know what these people on the roads and country lanes would be like?  What if they were some unsavory characters?  Yet He made no such calculation and maybe out of his generosity, these concerns were really not that important.

What does this reveal about his heart?

These responses revealed his generosity, grace, and his desire to be generous with his banquet.  When he was first rejected, he could have just shut down the banquet and not suffer another disgrace of being turned down.  However I read how he turned that into an opportunity to invite the poor and the crippled–people whom he had no prior relationships with, who could not really bring anything to the banquet.  Yet this master of the banquet graciously invited them to a banquet that they didn’t deserve to go.  Later on when all of them were in his house and there was still room, he still wanted to invite more so that the house may be full.  He did not want anyone to miss out on this great banquet and it showed his generosity and his desire to bring as many as possible so that no one would miss out.

And as I reflect on how this master of the banquet is a picture of God, I am once again thankful for Him.  Because of his generosity and grace, even though I had no background in Christianity, no interest in religions, and no desire to live a Godly life, he invited me through this church to have a relationship with Him.  As I look at my life, I identify with the poor and the crippled because of my sins and character issues, and still I got to be at this great banquet, not because of anything about me that was worthy for God inviting me, but simply because of His goodness and grace that I can be here.  And as I think about how I understand God’s heart towards me a bit more, I also think about how I need now be like his servant, to take on His heart, and to be out there inviting people to this great banquet so that they would not be missing out.

What did these people who did not come to the banquet gain?

These people who did not come to the banquet gained something very temporary and insecure.  What a field would produce could wither away, the oxen would one day die, and the marriage could hit some rough patches.  Even if all of them go well, these are not eternal things and once they passed, these things would not matter anymore.

There are people who choose to walk away from the faith or to cool off their zeal for seeking or serving.  The reasons are all quite similar; I want to focus on this one relationship, it was a job that I could not pass on, there was an opportunity that I could not stand to lose, or I want to make something of my life.  I think I could sympathize with some of these reasons, and if this life is all we have I think these would be wise choices too–why not gain the most in this life?  However, there is eternity and because there is this invitation to the great banquet that we all undeservedly are invited to, whatever gain this earth promises pales to what I could gain with this relationship with the master of the banquet, God who is eternal.

What did they lose?

As the master of the banquet is a portrayal of God, turning down his invitation to fellowship and relate to Him is a tragic loss.  They lost the chance to be in this precious relationship, one that last beyond death to eternity.   They lost the chance to deepen this relationship with God.

What is the main difference between the first group of people that declined and the second group of people that responded to the invitation?

The first group of people all had a lot at stake in their lives; they had properties to tend to, relationships that they needed to invest in.  On the other hand, the second group of people had nothing.  They were the downtrodden of the society, they could not bring anything to the banquet.  They knew that they did not deserve to be there, and yet this generous master wanted to invite them and include them at this Heavenly banquet.  The second group responded to this amazing grace and generosity because they were not worthy, while the first group rejected because they had things to lose from their perspective.

I am reminded of how much I am like the crippled and the poor.  Sure I am part of the top 1% of the world for having gone to college and pursuing higher degree.  Sure I live in material abundance and lack nothing.  Yet when I look into my heart and its depravity, when I look at my immaturity and how much I need to grow, I realize that this invitation to deepen my walk with God is one that I dare not turn down.  It is when I become more amazed at what I have and own, more at what I can make of this life, that my amazement at God’s invitation diminished and all these other “excuses” seemed more appealing.  And as I read this text again, I am once again struck by how important this correct perspective I need to have and cultivate.

What are some “good” things that I am seeking (or experiencing) that get in the way of responding to God’s invitation to fellowship with him at the banquet?

I think as I got married not long ago, the desire is there to be very protective of my family time.  I identify a lot with the third excuse because it seemed so reasonable and not as contemptible as the first two excuses.  In my context, these are things that go through my mind sometimes: can’t I spend more time with my wife, maybe to go a bit easier on my schedule so that I can be more protective with my time?  Do I want to take care of some tasks entrusted to me that would benefit others instead of spending more time with her?  But I need to ask this questions:  Do  I want to just focus on marital bliss and let that hinder fellowship with God? Of course I should not be neglecting my wife, but neither can I neglect God’s invitation to fellowship with Him.  I think through this text God is teaching me to have the right priority so that I would not turn this great blessing of marriage into a hindrance for me to respond to God’s calling to be a minister.

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