March 12th 2009
“Too Good To Be True?”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”
Matthew 11: 28-30 (NIV)
I’m sure that you have heard the saying “If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is.” Perhaps you have even used this yourself on occasions. We also don’t easily accept something for nothing; in fact our response is usually “What’s the catch?” Isn’t that right? We are by nature suspicious and we don’t like to be “taken for a ride!”
In the light of all this, how can we be encouraged to respond to the invitation extended to us by God? Isaiah prophesied about a great banquet that would take place at the end of time. He records in chapter 25 verses 6-8, NIV. “On this mountain, the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine-the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.”
In Luke 14 Jesus was dining at a Pharisee’s house where an individual made reference to this banquet by saying: “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” (Verse 15) Upon hearing this Jesus turns the focus of all those at that table to that great banquet but with “a twist in the tail!” (Verses 16-23).
Let me just cover it briefly in my own words: Jesus tells them about a certain man who was preparing a great banquet and had invited many guests. But when the time comes that they should arrive to eat, they begin to make excuses why they are now unable to accept His invitation. The excuses, of course, don’t stand up in the light of close scrutiny and so when the servant reports this to his master, he is angry. But notice what his solution is; he turns his anger into grace! Telling his servant, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of our town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” These are the outcasts within Israel.
A time lapse occurs here, the servant extends his gracious invitation to the outcasts of the village. As they enter the banquet hall he notices that there are still empty places. So he goes back and tells the master, “Sir, there is still room.” He is instructed to “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in so that my house will be full” . These are foreigners outside Israel.
The messenger who delivers such extraordinary invitations will need some special way to convince these people that they are indeed invited and wanted. These outsiders will need reassurance that there is indeed a welcome awaiting them there. But, as we have already noticed from the master’s words, all that these individuals need to do is accept this amazing and gracious invitation. To come along and share in this feast even though they know deep down in their hearts that they don’t deserve it.
You know we have another saying that we use quite often whenever we are unsure and undecided about something. “Suck it and see!” In other words, bite the bullet; take a chance. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” Psalm 34:8 (NIV).
Gracious, loving Father, thank you for your amazing personal invitation to dine with you and all who are yours at the Great Banquet.
Give courage to those who have not as yet accepted that call by revealing your goodness to them, that your house might be full.
Study by Cliff Neill