Bible Readings for June 15th
In Luke 14:15–24, Jesus tells the Parable of the Great Banquet. In the story, a man prepares a great feast and invites many to come. Strangely, when the man’s servant personally delivers the invitations, each person has a different excuse about why he can’t come. One bought a new field (Luke 14:18), another bought five yoke of oxen (Luke 14:19), and a third recently married a new wife (Luke 14:20). Each of them declines the invitation, one after another, and naturally, the host is furious: “For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet” (Luke 14:24).
But when we read Deuteronomy 20, we learn that Jesus wasn’t making those excuses up on the spot as he told the story. In fact, he was listing specific, legitimate excuses that would exempt a man from going to war. If you had a new house (i.e., property, the equivalent of oxen), you were excused (Deut. 19:20). If you had planted a new vineyard (i.e., field), you were excused (Deut. 20:6). And, if you had betrothed a wife but not taken her, you were also excused (Deut. 20:7).
So, what’s the connection between Jesus’ banquet and ancient Israelite warfare? It’s critical to understand that Israel went to war only for one purpose: claiming/defending their inheritance, the Promised Land. They marched into the Promise Land to lay hold to what God had promised them, and they fought off other peoples who tried to take the Promised Land away from them or to subjugate them within the land.
In the New Testament, though, the inheritance of God’s people is no longer a small sliver of land in the Middle East. Instead, the New Testament people of God get a much better inheritance: Christ himself, along with all of creation. Paul writes in Ephesians 1:11, “In him we have obtained an inheritance”; Christ himself is our inheritance. Then, in Romans 8:15–17, Paul explains that by the Spirit of adoption (through whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”) we have been made children of God, “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” Our inheritance is that we gain Christ himself, and that we inherit the whole world as a fellow heir with Christ.
Now that Jesus has come, the stakes are raised and there are no more excuses. Even the legitimate escape clauses of the law no longer apply here. No one who turns down an offer of Christ will taste God’s banquet. Either we repent from our sins and believe upon Jesus for entering into the eternal banquet or, for whatever underlying reason, we choose something else—even, perhaps, an otherwise good and proper thing to choose—and we miss the feast entirely.
So, the question is this: Do you want to taste God’s banquet or not?
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.