The Great Supper, or a Promise of One

Luke 14:16-24.

Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

How utterly contemptible are all human thoughts of God, when compared with the revelations of Himself in his blessed Word. Here is a short parable, spoken by our Lord, which scatters to the winds our dark, uncertain thoughts of God. God's great salvation is likened to a great supper which a certain man made.

I was speaking about this parable lately to a man who had been butler in a family for many years. I said to him, "Just tell me what you do, when dinner or supper is on the table." "Oh," said he, "I merely open the drawing-room doors, and say, 'Dinner is on the table,' which means all is ready. The guests then take their seats." "Well, now," said I, "suppose when you took off the covers, that there was a bit of paper on every dish with this sentence on it, 'A promise of a supper,' what would you say?" "Say, why, sir," he said, "I should not know where to put my face; I never heard of such a thing." I said, "No, I suppose not; no man would ever think of serving his fellow men, as unbelief would represent God." Now, this is the simple question; is the Gospel-feast a present, certain reality, or is it the mere promise of salvation, leaving the anxious sinner in disappointment and uncertainty? Is it a real supper, or the hope of one? Is it the certainty of salvation, or the hope to be saved?

Let us now look at the parable. How plain the words, "A certain man made a great supper, and bade many." The supper was made before the invitation was sent. "And sent his servant at supper time, to say to them that were bidden, Come, for all things are now ready." In Matthew 22 it is, very emphatic, "I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready." It is quite true, before Christ came, faith had then to do with the promise. But now Christ has come. He has died; he is risen; he is in glory. All is finished. All things are ready. The promise is fulfilled. It is no longer the promise of salvation, but salvation itself. "But, they made light of it." "And they all with one consent began to make excuse." How truly this was fulfilled, and is still, in the rejection of Christ by the Jews, who were the fathers, and unto whom the promises had been made. And though the Gospel-feast as been spread before all nations, man, if left to the freedom of his own choice, invariably makes light of it. The ground, the oxen, the wife, yea, the slavery of Satan is chosen by the human heart, before God's great Gospel-feast. But divine, boundless grace goes still further, "Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind." And again. "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." Truly, every believer can say, —
"Why was I made to hear thy voice,
And enter whilst there's room;
Whilst thousands make the wretched choice,
And rather starve than come."

It is now supper time; the table is filling fast. Do you say, "I am such a poor, wretched sinner, the Gospel-feast cannot be for me, until I am better?" Poor, do you say? Why, you are of the very sort who are to be brought in quickly; and why that word quickly, but to show you must be brought to Jesus at once, just as you are? "Ah," but says another, "Sin has so blighted, and ruined, and maimed me, I am not fit for the Gospel-feast." Maimed! why it is the maimed one that is to be brought to Him. "Ah," says another, "but I have been a professor, and have halted so shamefully and so often." Halted? Why you are the very person; for the halt were to be brought. "But I am no scholar, I don't understand anything; all seems dark to me." Dark! why, it was the very blind that were to be brought; and what a welcome. What a real supper. Now, when a man is brought, and sat eating at the supper-table, is it presumption for him to know with certainty, that he has his supper? You would take the man to be mad, if he said be hoped he had a supper; or he hoped he should get one. And is not God's salvation as great a reality as any man's supper? How can it be presumption, then, to believe God, and know with certainty, that since He has given me faith in Christ, and brought me to believe in Him, that I am saved, forgiven, and justified from all things?

God is perfectly righteous in leaving those who make light of it to perish. He says, "they that were bidden shall not taste of my supper." And his sovereign grace is displayed, in the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind, whom he compels to come in. All are welcome, but all are not saved. He that hears his words, and believes in God, who sent Him, hath everlasting life. And he that rejects his words shall perish.

There is one point we must notice in Matthew, "And when the king, came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment." He was speechless; cast out into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is most solemn. The vilest sinner is welcome at the supper table. But let no man presume to come there in his own clothes; or, as the figure evidently means, in his own righteousness — the clothing of the saved sinner, must be of the brightest white. But his very best suit is filthy rags. These filthy garments must be taken away; and he must have a change of raiment.

Come with me to the grave of Jesus. Whilst he lay there, where was righteousness? Look abroad on the face of the whole earth; and I repeat, where was righteousness to be found? Nowhere; all had sinned. The whole world stood guilty before God. All was darkness, sin, and death. The only righteous One, lay dead in the grave. But look, the stone is rolled away; the Prince of Life arises from among the dead. Ah, there, and there alone, is righteousness, — perfect, bright, unsullied righteousness. Believer, that risen Christ, is thy change of raiment, God's best robe for thee and me. What a change of raiment, my old rags, my old self, put off in thy death, Lord Jesus; and thou, risen Christ, my everlasting righteousness, to shine for ever in the brightness of the glory of God. Thus poor, maimed, halt, blind one, has God not only met thee in unbounded grace, but has provided thee a robe of righteousness, that fits thee for His holy presence. Yes, the father not only fell upon the neck of the prodigal, and kissed him, just as he was, but the best robe was ready, and the ring, and the shoes were ready — all things were ready for the feast of joy. The prodigal could not have been happy in the father's house clothed in rags. The redeemed saint could not be happy in the presence of God, in the filthy rags of self-righteousness. But God has given him the best robe — better than Adam wore in innocence; better than highest angels wear, for both have failed, and the robe has been polluted — the Son of the Morning sinned, and Adam, the lord of the lower creation, fell. But the risen Christ can never fail; no spot can ever soil the best robe. God hath made Him to be our righteousness — "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Cor. 1:30.) As truly as He was made sin for us, that is for all believers, so certainly are we made the righteousness of God in Him.

What a wondrous feast of grace, where all things are of God. When a person is invited to supper, he is not even expected to bring his own knives and forks, much less is he expected to pay for it. It is so at the Gospel — the sinner has nothing to give; all to receive. My reader are you at the feast? If you believe God, then it is as certain that you are saved, as the man who believes his friend and sits down to his supper, knows that he has his supper.

God give my reader this blessed certainty — and grace to walk with garments undefiled.

C.S.