The Kingdom of God, Part One: The Banquet

This is the first of new sermon series on the kingdom of God.

Scripture: Luke 14:1-24

On the Sabbath they watched Him as He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees to eat bread. There before Him was a man who had edema.[a] Jesus said to the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” But they remained silent. So He took him and healed him, and let him go.

Then He said, “Which of you having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” And they could not answer Him regarding these things.

A Lesson to Guests and a Host

When He marked how they chose the seats of honor, He told a parable to those who were invited, saying to them, “When you are invited by any man to a wedding banquet, do not sit down in a seat of honor, lest a more honorable man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give this man the seat,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest seat. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest seat, so that when he who invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have respect in the presence of those who sit at dinner with you. 11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

12 Then He said also to the one who invited Him, “When you prepare a dinner or a supper, do not call your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or your rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. 13 But when you prepare a banquet, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind,14 and you will be blessed, for they cannot repay you. You shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

The Parable of the Great Banquet

15 When one of those who sat at dinner with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

16 Then He said to him, “A man prepared a banquet and invited many, 17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now prepared.’

18 “But they all with one mind began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go and see it. I ask you to excuse me.’

19 “Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to prove them. I ask you to excuse me.’

20 “Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’

21 “The servant came and reported this to his master. Then the master of the house in anger 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 “The servant said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and yet there is room.’

23 “Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ ”

= = =

As illustrated in the above verses, the kingdom of God doesn’t follow any of the rules of the rest of the world. What Jesus described and what people expected were (as usual) completely different.

Jesus asked lots of questions, the big one in this chapter being: “Is it lawful to heal a man [ie, to do good] on the Sabbath?” Jesus knew that there can no law against doing good or showing love for others.

The kingdom of God is rather practical, meaning it makes sense but you have to put it into practice.

In the kingdom of God, the least is the greatest. Those who humble themselves will be exalted. This is counterintuitive to what we are taught in the world: to show ambition, initiative, to put yourself forward to the best of your ability to attract notice. Jesus taught us by example: the Son of God himself set his life to serving others rather than proclaiming his divinity and superiority. A good leader is one who serves.

The kingdom of God is full of all kinds of people, especially the ones we would least expect.  Our job is not to judge; we are simply asked to welcome, to help, to pray for, and to serve.

As Christians, we are to serve those in need. Offer food to the hungry, comfort to the hurting, grace and love to the broken, and healing to the sick. We are called to serve in the kingdom of God. Let’s never be too busy to lead with a servant’s heart.

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