Luke 14:15-24: Come, for the Feast is Prepared!

Table loaded with Food (610x350)It’s a sight to behold! The table is creaking, laden with a load of food, all ready to be eaten. You can see baked fowl, roasted beef, a rack of lamb, fruits, bread, fresh vegetables, sauces for dipping, and wine for pouring. And more than that, the host of that banquet has lovingly prepared that lavish feast.

The candles are burning, the dinnerware is set, and all the guests have received the invitations. The host now waits. And he waits and waits. The servants begin to get nervous and start fidgeting. The dishes grow cold, the candles burn low, but no guests have come to eat and enjoy the feast.

What makes it even crazier is that the master of the feast himself has prepared the banquet and covered all the costs. It’s all gift and all it’s free for the taking! You couldn’t pay for it if you tried.

And just to help make sure that no guest will miss the feast, the host sent his messengers with this most astonishing invitation: “Come, for everything is now ready.” How big is “everything”? It’s larger than you imagine. After all, “everything” means everything. The host, the master of the feast, has done it all!

He even made doubly sure that each guest received an invitation, not once, but twice. The first was to tell each guest that he was invited. The second was on the day of the great supper itself. He sent a special messenger, announcing that dinner was prepared: “Come, for everything is now ready!”

Our Lord’s words show us the Gospel. For the Gospel isn’t a command that we have to fulfill; it’s all gift. It’s our Lord’s invitation to share in the joy of feasting at His table, of being under His gracious rule and reign.

“Come!” God is expecting you! He is ready for the sick and the maimed, the blind and the lame. He invites everyone: “Come, for everything is now ready.” So, if you seek meaning for life, come. If you hunger and thirst for righteousness, come. If you falter under sin’s burden and shame, come. If you are anxious and fearful, come. If you mourn and grieve, come.

Christianity is not chiefly a “should” religion. You should do this if you want to make God happy. You shouldn’t do that if you don’t want to displease God. If that’s become the sum and substance of Christianity for you, then you’ve become a Pharisee.

Christianity is a “come” religion. It’s as Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The strong pulling power of Jesus is not in His “thou shalt and thou shalt not,” but in His “come to me.” Come and receive life and salvation. Come and receive His divine life to live within you.

And if we come to Jesus, then when we do what we do, it’s not because the Master of the banquet has faltered in doing “everything.” No, it’s because it’s an expression of our love for the One who laid down His life to give us life.

So, when Jesus says, “Come,” He isn’t calling from the heights of heaven, telling you to climb the ladder to eternal life. Why would He do that?   He’s already climbed down that ladder for you. “Who for us men and our salvation, came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man” (Nicene Creed). “And [Mary] gave birth to a Son, the Firstborn, and she wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a feeding trough” (Luke 2:7).

Jesus came, born in a stable. He walked this earth to die on the cross. He even prepared a banquet of salvation for us. And now—today—He sends His servants to extend us His invitation: “Come, for everything is now ready.” You can’t add to this feast, for the Master has done it all, everything. It’s all grace. “It is finished!” Jesus cried from the cross (John 19:30). He has prepared the feast of salvation for you—and He only asks that you let Him serve it to you.

Ah, but instead of the people accepting the master’s invitation, they reject it. And all the reasons sound valid and legitimate. “I have just bought a field… I have just bought five pairs of oxen… I just got married, so I can’t come.” It’s like Scripture says, “He came to his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11).

It’s not that different today, even for those in the Church. Our great mistake is that we often accept the wrong invitations in life. We miss the banquet, the generous life of Christ, settling for the lesser, for the fleeting. And Jesus still laments: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling!” (Luke 13:34).

And as Jesus tells the story, the master’s face now changes from perplexity to anger. His people have spurned his feast. So be it. He sends his servants to call others—those with whom he had no earlier relation. He summons them to the meal. And when places are still open at the table, when the house is not yet full, he sends out the servants, once more. They scour the roads and bushes, the highways and hedges, urging people to come and feast with him. The master wants his house to be full.

So, how are you doing in accepting the Master’s invitation? Every time you choose—for any reason other than sickness or dire emergency—not to come to the Lord’s house to eat the Master’s feast, you spurn His invitation. You reject it when you think: “Coming to church once or twice a month, or four times a year, that’s enough.” You reject it when you put the preoccupations of this world ahead of receiving God and His Word. And it is a foolish choice.

And that isn’t just pastor’s opinion. That’s clear from our Gospel reading for today. When you let the food of this age distract you and pull you away from the food of eternity, you sin against God. The stuff of this creation is not evil—it is even good, properly used. But when you allow the stuff of this world to become more important than God, you are hurting yourself. For you are neglecting to receive the Word of God, Jesus, and how He has chosen to feed you with His banquet.

But neglecting Jesus’ banquet isn’t just sinful, it’s also sad. For you’re spending time chasing after that which fades and withers, because that stuff doesn’t endure into eternity. To place top value on what is passing away, while ignoring, or taking for granted, that which lasts forever, is the saddest state of affairs.

But Jesus still extends His invitation. He still calls you to come and receive the gifts that give you eternal life. His invitation never wanes, for coming to Jesus isn’t just a one-time event; it’s a way of life. No one should ever say: “Oh, I did that years ago.”

Coming to Jesus begins with baptism. As God brought someone into His Old Covenant through circumcision, now He brings someone into His New Covenant through baptism (Colossians 2:11-12). After that, coming to Jesus involves living in your baptism. That’s done when you repent—turning away from sin back to God.

But we especially come to Jesus where He has promised to be for us. And so we come to Him in worship. As He said, “Where two or three come together in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20). And for those in the New Covenant, it’s only natural for our Lord’s Banquet to be the center of our life with Him. After all, Jesus calls His Supper the “New Covenant”: “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). And so, as our Lord’s New-Covenant people, we come to His New Covenant for us at His table.

Jesus came—and still comes—to meet us here, on our level, to feed us with the food of eternal life. He doesn’t stand at the top of the ladder and tell us to climb. No, He comes to us and puts us on His broad shoulders. He lifts and carries us up the ladder.

So, stop making excuses and dare to accept His invitation. Then, you’ll know the wonder of God’s brightly lit banquet hall, the goodness of the food, and the joy of being part of His kingdom.

Remember, the Host has said that He has done “everything.” The Host, Jesus, has poured out His blood to wash away your sins. He rose from death to defeat it for you. He sent the Holy Spirit from the Father for you. And, for you, He has prepared a table, where you may sit with Him in His royal banqueting hall and feast.

When you arrive at this banquet, the master has a glorious crown awaiting for you and a place of honor at His table. At His table, you feast as kings and priests with your brother, THE King and THE Priest, Jesus Christ, as He delivers all that His life, death, and resurrection have secured for you!

But what is it that you have to do to receive such an honor? Nothing, except to come. Nothing, except to allow yourself to be given to, to receive from Him that which is all gift. The yearning in our Lord’s heart is to give to you.

The Lord is rich in mercy and kindness. Even though you have turned away from Him in the past, today He comes anew. Today, He seeks you, inviting you, calling you to come and feast with Him, to feast on the riches of His banquet. He calls you to be crowned and robed, to eat of His royal feast. Your excuses don’t interest Him—He’s interested in receiving you!

Dare to accept His invitation. Come to Him in repentance today. Feast on His pardon that He may strengthen you with the food of eternal life. So, “come, for everything is now ready.” Amen.