Today's Reading: Luke 14:15-24
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" (Luke 14:23).
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Three levels of invitation. The first is the standard kind of invitation that you would give to a wedding reception. Here's the party; here's the time. Please come! But attendance finally rests on you and your decision. And when the party is announced, the invitees all do the absurd and excuse themselves. Here's the kicker, though--all of them excuse themselves because they have a vision of a better feast. I bought a field--it will produce a bountiful feast with some hard work! I bought five yoke of oxen--I can do five times the work as the first guy with a fifth of the exertion. I just got married, and my wife is a good cook--oh, I think dinner's already on the table. Please excuse me.
Of course, if you threw a party and no one came, you'd probably be mad, too. So the master sends the next level of invitation. Go to the crippled, poor, blind, and lame. Lead them in. These are people who, for one reason or another, cannot provide a feast like the master's. They cannot work the ground, or afford a team of oxen, or are without a family. But beyond all expectation, they find themselves seated at a feast. They are not merely invited. They are led in. This is not a matter of free will--the initiative is all the master's.
But there still is room. So the third level of invitation. "Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in" (v 23). Go find people who are completely unaware that there is even a feast. Don't invite them. Don't lead them. Compel them.
This is the story of the kingdom of God: It is the eternal feast of the Lamb who was slain. You cannot seat yourself by exercise of your own free will. This is God's work and His alone. He leads you and compels you with a promise that this feast is more than just bread. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, You have prepared This feast for our salvation; It is Your body and Your blood, And at Your invitation As weary souls, with sin oppressed, We come to You for needed rest, For comfort, and for pardon (LSB 622:1)