THE FEAST OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD – Pete Bauer
This sermon was preached on August 8th, 2014. To listen to the audio, just click on this link – Banquet.
The Meaning of the Feast.
Context: What is the Banquet/Feast of The Kingdom of God? While Jesus was eating a meal at the house of a prominent pharisee, and “being carefully watched,” someone at the table said, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the Kingdom of God.”
The Banquet or Feast of the Kingdom of God is the future celebration banquet in which those who are children of God will be healed of the sin, mortality, illness, disease, pain–forgiven of their failures, comforted from the sorrow that ruins and distorts life.
The Banquet of the Kingdom of God will be the entrance feast into the presence of God–where we will enter into the joy of the Lord and the fellowship of love for God and one another–where we will be accepted and honored by God and experience the fullness and glory of un-fallen human life.
This Banquet is also called, in Revelation 21, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb–meaning that, through this feast we will be united with Jesus Christ, as his bride, in a way that will transform us into glorious beings.
The Wedding Feast is Our Great Hope: As believers we long for this feast day–this wedding banquet. We want to be healed of our sin and also of the sickness and brokenness of the world.
The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law also hoped for the Wedding Feast of the Kingdom of God and when someone expressed this hope at the table with Jesus, Jesus told this parable.
Reactions to the Feast.
We May Choose to Accept or Reject the Feast: The fact that Jesus is at a feast and ends up telling a parable about a feast is not coincidental. It seems clear that the parable that Jesus told connected back in some way to the events of that particular day, recorded in Luke 14:1-14. Jesus’ parable was a response to the behavior of the Pharisees and others at the feast.
There is a vital connection between our actions and attitudes–and the Great Feast. Throughout the day (in the Luke 14:1-14), the Pharisee and his guests had rejected the core hopes of the Feast of the Kingdom (healing, humility, sacrificial love).
- They had cared more about keeping Sabbath regulations than for a man oppressed by disease.
- They had cared more about being honored than they did about the cancer of their pride, lack of love for one another and their need for God.
- They had cared more about enjoying themselves than they did about the desperately needy and starving around them.
In short, their idea of feasting was one of self-fulfillment, without regard for the kind of healing and help and blessing that they themselves and the world around them needed–the things that God cares about.
We May Choose to Feast or Starve: When Jesus told his parable about those who had rejected the great feast, he was not saying, “One day, if you are not careful, and if you do not live right–you will miss the great feast.” Rather, seeking healing for our lives and the lives of others, living in the humility of our neediness, learning to love other sacrificially–these things do not get us into the feast–they are the feast. These holy ways of caring for the afflicted, humbling ourselves before God, and loving those who cannot repay our love–these are the ways that change us from our cold, uncaring hearts–from our arrogant presumption towards God and men–from our self-interested and self serving ways of using people. They are ways in which we find the blessing of God.
The Pharisee who expressed a longing to be at the feast was already missing it–he was starving himself by feasting on his pride, his needlessness and his cold unloving heart. Jesus told the parable of the rejected feast in order to make him aware of his malnutrition.
Our Response to the Feast.
Do Not Reject the Feast: The parable of the rejected feast is troubling, and it should be. Jesus meant it as a warning to the self-righteous, self-sufficient and prideful. His point in telling the parable (for those who have ears to hear it) was to expose those attitudes that would keep us from the feast.
~ Our Self-Sufficient Busyness Keeps Us from the Feast: The excuses of the guests, in the parable, are insulting. They display a true lack of love, respect, even interest in the one giving the feast. After all, you don’t buy property on the day of a feast that you want to go to unless you are sure you can do it and still make the feast with plenty of time.
This is a picture of the Pharisees–too busy keeping the Sabbath to care about healing for an afflicted man. They watched Jesus carefully, yet somehow they missed the miraculous healing. That’s because the poor and the sick do not fit into our plans for the day.
It is no coincidence that Paul, in his description of love -1Cor.13, starts with “love is patient…”. Love (whether love for God or man) begins by setting aside our agenda and taking the time to care for another–to serve another’s needs (as in the example of the Good Samaritan)–to listen or to show compassion. Love for God requires that we take time to worship God, to pray, to listen to God, to read his word. Love without the patience to take the time and set aside our busyness is not love.
Where we cannot be patient to love, we set aside the feast of the Kingdom for our own feast, and we starve ourselves.
~ Our Prideful Self-Congratulation Keeps Us from the Feast: The guests who were jockeying for positions of honor at the table also moved Jesus to tell this parable. Like the invited guests who were too busy to come and had no real need of a feast, the guests at the Pharisees’ table saw no need for humility. Jesus suggestion that they take the lowest seat would appear to them ridiculous.
Their concern to be honored, to be seen as important blinded them to their desperate spiritual need. They were, in fact, blind to the presence of God among them. They were blind to the disease and ruin of their sin. They were spiritual cripples, unable to do any good work. They were spiritual lepers, full of sin, unclean and content in rotting, dying corpselike state.
No one comes to the feast in pride. Those who are willing to come to the feast of the Kingdom of God are those who desperately need the feast–they are needy and broken–not proud and self-congratulatory. We come impoverished by our self-counsel, our fear, our addiction, our heartbreak, our depression, our weak spirit. We come to christ in order to receive the riches of his grace, his favor, and his presence, his counsel, and his joy. The Feast is a table of life and mercy, of change and hope, of favor and acceptance. The feast of the Kingdom is a feast that lifts up the humble and needy.
Take Part in the Feast.
This morning we are preparing to have the communion–the Lord’s Supper. Communion is more than just an anticipation of the Wedding Feast of the Kingdom. Communion and the Great Wedding Feast are connected: they are part of the same feast. In communion we confess and prepare for the great fulfillment in which we will all be changed into the glorious likeness of Jesus. In communion, we are starting a feast that will be completed in the presence of God.
Communion is Confession: Communion is a physical-spiritual confession of our need for healing, spiritual freedom to be holy, for a changed life. These are things we cannot do for ourselves. We do not know the way to heal ourselves.
Communion is an Exercise in Faith: Through communion we express our hope, our trust that these things are true. Communion is our statement that Jesus Christ, the Son of God had died for our sins and risen again–and that we expect also to rise with him.
Communion is an Expression of Our Love: Through communion we express our love for God, the Feast-Giver, and Jesus Christ, our invitation. We unite ourselves with Christ through the body and the blood–the bread and the wine–in the hope and longing of being united finally with him..