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The second group invited to the feast

So this Sunday we will complete the message about the parable of the great banquet. You will recall in this parable that the first folks the master invited did not come with various excuses. Those excuses represent, to this day, why some folks do not come to God….seek salvation…stay involved with a local church.

1. The guests didn’t have a very high regard for the one inviting them. We all have come across “an offer we can’t refuse”, and there are invitations that would make our day! Most of us would immediatley respond to an invitation from the governor, or the President, or Elon Musk or Bill Gates to dinner. But folks refrain from God’s invitation because they question either if He is real—-or if the party’s going to be fun. They are not sure about His taste and are unsure of how much they will enjoy the party. Friends, God is real. I have met Him, talked to Him, seen Him perform the impossible and heard His voice. He’s real.

2. The second reason is change. Coming to God’s party means you must be prepared to change your clothes as well as learn some manners. Things will be grand in heaven, but it won’t be Cousin Gary’s or Cracker Barrel! And if you choose to become a citizen of the Kingdom of God today, yes, there are things you give up because it’s unbecoming of your new heritage and your association with the King of Kings! You don’t put new wine in old wine skins—-but that’s another parable.

3. The third reason is a fear of missing out on the good life, right now, if we sign up for the party that’s coming. And this is the stupidest of all excuses! This banquet will be beyond comprehension. But maybe you’re like the folks at Christ’s time that rejected Him—-you don’t like things spectacular and exquisite—-you’re quite happy to eat with the pigs and sleep under a bridge…

But reaction of the Master of the house and his reaction to those who refused his invitation tells us four things about him:

(1)"Make them ( the second group invited) come in, so that my house will be full." He is going to have a parry…it’s going to be grand…and He is going to have guests.

God is determined that many enjoy his provision. All the places at his table will be filled. There is no doubt that Jesus will redeem a great number. Many will benefit from his salvation; but will you be one of those who miss out?

"Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in.”. He shows such compassion and charity! He doesn’t care where you come from or what you’ve done!

The master is prepared to accept all sorts and all conditions of men - the impoverished, the handicapped, the socially unacceptable, the marginalised and outcast. It does not matter to Him. No matter how bad, dirty, disgusting and undesirable you might think you are, He’s seen worst and they’re in heaven right now! But again, you’ve got to change your clothes and learn good manners.

God welcomes to his banquet every kinds of undesirables - people with little to offer except their need, individuals who have ruined their lives and the lives of others, sinners with no religious background whatsoever - strangers and aliens. C.S. Lewis, in his account of his surrender to God admits that he was possibly the most reluctant convert in all England. Later he recognized the greatness of God's grace in accepting him - in spite of his reluctance - to the party - and into the kingdom.

So the Master invites others—-those that will respond and come. That’s why we’re called to support missions…. to take the invitation to those that have not received the invite yet.

So here’s the last part of the parable: The Master sends his servants out to bring in everyone else, regardless of status or heritage, that has not yet rejected his invitation. He tells them, "Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in."

So who does the master send out to find more guests? His servants.

The master's servants were the ones who persuaded the needy and non-religious to come to the feast. And to be clear, everyone of us that claim Christ as our Savior are those servants. We are tasked with persuading men and women to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

"I tell you, not one of these men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.” He is disgusted with those who rejected his invitation, and if you read the gospels, be clear about this: God does not hold a person guiltless that refuses to believe in Jesus Christ. It is absolutely essential for salvations, HE is the invitation——to reject Him, Jesus Christ, is to level upon God the harshest insult possible. You don’t want to do that…

God will hold men and women responsible for their decision to reject Christ and his salvation. Absolutely no excuse will be accepted. The question is, "What will you do with God's invitation? What reply will you give?" Imagine you had an invitation card before you. A response is called for. A decision is required immediately. Make up your mind.

Those that reject Christ tend to surround themselves with folks of the same mind, of course. And they imagine themselves as being sophisticated, erudite, and of a strong will and mind. But it’s really quite the opposite. It’s been said that, “it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses.

But our focus today, again, is on the second invitation—-to those who seem on the outside of a the sophistication of the first group that was invited.

Luke 14:21 – So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’

So next invitation goes to the poor, cripples, blind and lame. Who are these people? The quick and easy answer is to say that these are the Gentiles, but I believe that the answer is slightly more nuanced. Jesus himself, upon giving his disciples the Great Commission began in Jerusalem and Judea and then extended the invitation to the ends of the world. We see a similar unfolding of the gospel invitation here. If that’s the case, how are we to understand the poor, crippled, blind and lame from the streets and lanes of the city? These are the remnant among the Jews that do respond to God’s good invitation. While the religious leaders rejected Jesus, there were still the Nicodemus’ who responded to the invitation. In Acts 2, over 3,000 Jews became Christians in response to Peter’s sermon! You and I aren’t required to only share the gospel with people that look, work, live, vote or behave just like us—-but to all people of all walks and persuasions!

God’s banquet hall is a very large precisely because He’s prepared it prior to the foundations of the earth for those that world would not think worthy, but He considered precious.

And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.

These are, of course, the Gentiles, among the highways and hedges, to whom the doors of the banquet hall are likewise opened wide and are bidden to come in. Not only has Jesus just told the religious elite that they’ve been cut off from the banquet and that those whom they might look down upon are invited, he also says that even the Gentiles will have preference over them in banquet feast of the Master. Probably not what you want to do at a dinner party if you’re trying to win friends and influence people! But Jesus was about winning souls and never hesitated to cut right to the heart of the matter.

Consider God’s heart toward saving sinners. The master says to his servants, “…Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” The picture here is not one of God looking to keep people out save for those few righteous who are good enough. No, rather it is the picture of a generous God who desires that all would come to him as they are… poor, crippled, blind and lame and how he aggressively pursues them into his kingdom.

But to pull all of this together I want to draw your attention to a man I studied in seminary named

Jeremiah Lanphier. He was a businessman that lived in NYC. He was not a pastor or a missionary, but he considered himself a servant of the master. So he handed out Christian tracts, visited local businesses, invited children to Sunday school, and encouraged hotels to refer guests to the church on Sunday. He was a man of prayer and found that his time spent in prayer brought him the most peace and resolve, so he determined to start a weekly noon prayer meeting for businessmen that would take advantage of the hour when businesses were closed for lunch. The handbill he had printed read: “Wednesday prayer meeting from 12 to 1 o’clock. Stop 5, 10 or 20 minutes, or the whole time, as your time admits." On September 23, 1857, he set up a signboard in front of the church. No one came to the appointed room, and Lanphier prayed by himself for thirty minutes. At 12:30 one single man joined him, but by the end of the hour four others came. Not what he had hoped for, but he was sincere in his prayer and reckless in his faith that God would bless his hope for a revival.

The next week there were twenty men, followed by forty the next week. In October the prayer meetings became daily, and in January, just four months later, a second room had to be used simultaneously, by February, a third. By then as many as twenty noon prayer meetings were being held elsewhere in the New York City. In mid-March Burton's Theatre, capable of holding 3,000, was crowded for the prayer meetings. By the end of March every downtown New York church and public hall was filled to capacity, and ten thousand men were gathering daily for prayer.

Lay people, not church leaders led. Prayer, rather than preaching, was the theme and focus.

The small prayer meeting of Jeremy Lanphier on this day led to the Third Great Awakening. This was the first revival beginning in America with a worldwide impact. The revival spread to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Europe, South Africa, India, Australia, and the Pacific islands.

All classes became interested in salvation, backsliders returned, conversions increased, and Christians desired a deeper instruction in spiritual truths. Families established daily devotions, and entire communities underwent a noticeable change in morals. Preaching, which in many places had become intellectual and lifeless, now concentrated on the truths of the gospel of Christ and His cross.

By May OF 1858, 50,000 of New York’s 800,000 people were new converts. A newspaper reported that New England was so profoundly changed by the revival that in several towns no unconverted adults could be found!

By 1859 a million Americans were converted in a population of thirty million and at least a million Christians were renewed, with lasting results in church attendances and moral reform in society.

That’s what happens when God’s servants prayer and encourage others to pray. Are you a servant of Jesus Christ? Are you praying? Are you inviting the lost to come to the banquet? An awakening might be at our door. Let’s pray for a great revival in America….

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