R.S.V.P. - - - A.S.A.P.

R.S.V.P. - - - A.S.A.P.

Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd

Cortland Church of Christ / June 07, 2015

  Welcome to our Friends & Family Day - - we’re grateful for your attendance! 

On an occasion similar to this one, in a sanctuary much larger that ours, the preacher prefaced his sermon by asking,

“Can everyone here me in the back?”.

One loyal and faithful church member, intending to offer a kind and considerate gesture, responded saying,

“I can hear just fine, but I wouldn’t mind changing seats with someone who can’t.”

Please open your Bibles to the gospel according to Luke - - chapter fourteen.

I wrote a brief essay in last week’s newsletter titled, Come To The Table, calling attention to

numerous occasions mentioned in the gospel  that depict Jesus engaging in “table fellowship” with others.

  Jesus’ detractors used this common practice of Jesus to try to undercut His credibility and short-circuit His message.

Lk.7:34 records that Jesus’ opponents accused Him of being a GLUTTON.

They hurled a false accusation intending to tarnish His reputation, but it failed to get traction.

The time Jesus spent table fellowship with others actually served to make Him more attractive in the eyes of his listeners.

They could sense His sincerity in an upfront and personal way.

They could see firsthand that Jesus truly enjoyed spending time with others.

This was an illustration of what Paul referred to as “the aroma/fragrance of Christ” (2Cor.2:15).

They found Jesus to be genuinely inviting - - He was both warm & winsome and charming & engaging.

  Mk.1:45 states, “people were coming to Him from everywhere”.

  Mk.12:37 notes, “the great crowd enjoyed listening to Him” (the common people heard Him gladly).

Luke’s gospel is filled with stories of time spent by Jesus dining with others.

The 14th chapter of Luke provides a snapshot of Jesus in table fellowship.

  The chapter opens with Jesus dining in the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath.

This may have been a set-up - - vs.1 hints at this by stating, “they were watching Him closely”.

Jesus used this incident to debunk some of the legalistic teachings of the Pharisees regarding “keeping the Sabbath”.

  In Lk.14:7f, after observing the tendencies of the dinner guests seeking out “places of honor”,

Jesus spoke a parable on the importance of humility.

He put an exclamation on the story by urging his listeners (Lk.14:12f) to invite others who couldn’t return the favor.

Upon hearing this parable, one of the dinner guests made this very astute observation (vs.15),

Blessed is everyone who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”

This observation provided an opportune segue for Jesus to tell another parable.

Read from Lk.14:16-24 

My job as a preacher of the gospel is not to tickle your ears.

Rather, my assignment is to make us think - - to think deeply about spiritual things.

My task is to help us all chart our lives in view of things eternal.

And sometimes this vocation called preaching entails listeners who come to feel a bit uncomfortable.

It’s not at all that we enjoy making people squirm - - it’s just that we’re well aware that we humans have a

proclivity for getting wrapped up in the world around us and becoming entangled in earthly things. 

Jesus spoke about some who were being “choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life” (Lk.8:14).

Jesus often used PARABLES to arrest or capture people’s attention.

Story-telling was then (and remains still) a way of prompting people to think about life in a more profound way.

Parables have been aptly described as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”

Such is the certainly the case with this particular parable.

  The “certain man” in this parable is none other than GOD Himself.

  The “dinner or feast” was a rich picture of “fellowship and life in the presence of Almighty God”.

The Old Testament prophets spoke of this grand occasion.

“The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all people on this mountain…” / Isa.25:6

Scholars often speak of this as “the messianic banquet”.

In another parable (Mt.22:1ff), Jesus speaks of it as a “wedding feast for His Son”.

Jesus was a JEWISH rabbi.

In Gal.4:4, the apostle Paul writes 4 “When the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son,

Born of a woman, born under the law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law…”

This was a Jewish dinner party, and Jesus’ primary concern was to rouse the attention of His Jewish brethren.

So the certain man gives a lavish feast and sends forth his servant to extend the invitation.

It was common in the first-century to send out an initial invitation - - i.e., “please keep this date open”.

Then, as the time of the feast drew closer, a second invitation would be sent with specific details. 

In this case, the servant would announce, “all things are now ready, come to the feast”.

Here this parable takes a somewhat unexpected and quite tragic twist.

Lk.14:18 states 4 they all alike began to make excuses.

(1)I bought some land and I need to go see it - - their jobs or vocation takes precedent.

(2)I bought five yoke of oxen and need to try them out - - their possessions are more important.

(3)I have married and I cannot come - - their family life is actually diminished by the absence of God.

On the surface we can see that these excuses (literally “to beg off”) are flimsy and transparent.

God has sent Jesus to the house of Israel and they are too busy to really care.

Actually, this is most likely a reference to the rejection of Jesus by the leaders of Jews.

They were so caught up in their own politics and self-interests, that they were willing to spurn God’s invitation.

Although they were taught in their Scriptures to look eagerly for the coming of the messianic banquet,

they now find themselves so eaten up with themselves that they have no desire to dine with God.

Thus, Jesus turns the focus of His attention to the common people.

Thankfully, many of them heard Him gladly and we eager to come to the feast.

Vs.23, “go into the highways & byways and compel them to come in.”

This is a strong hint of God’s intention to invite the Gentiles (all the peoples) to the banquet.

The compelling spoken of here is not a coercion.

It is not forcing someone to do something against their will - - it’s a compulsion driven by love.

2Cor.5:14 / “For the love of Christ controls … constrains … compels us, having concluded that One died for ALL.”

Now, let me close this sermon by asking each one of us to do some serious pondering.

Surely we can all see that this is a parable about God’s invitation to take part in His church or kingdom.

Can you see yourself in this parable?

Are you one of those who gladly accepts the invitation, eager to be a part of God’s great banquet?

Or, are you like some of those in the story - - in that you’ve found yourself guilty of “begging off”.

Could it be that it is high time for you to R.S.V.P.?

Deep down inside can you sense the need to make God and Christ central in your life?

Years ago, a songwriter used this text to pen a wonderful hymn.

He titled the hymn, All Things Are Ready.

He urges that we “praise God for full salvation for whosoever will”.

But knowing man’s tendencies, he also warns, “delay not while this day is thine, tomorrow may never be.”

This is the A.S.A.P. to God’s R.S.V.P.!

Who among us has not stood at the grave of one who died unexpectedly and prematurely?

In my almost-40 years of preaching I have done scores of funerals (perhaps two-hundred or more).

The saddest and hardest thing I am called on to do is to deliver a eulogy for someone who is not a Christian.

Quite a few have died with good intentions - - - yet they procrastinated doing the most important thing.

They put off putting on Christ.

I have deep concerns about their status in the hereafter.

I know that God is a God of grace and mercy, but I also know what Jesus says in this parable.

When flimsy excuses were offered in rejecting the invitation, “the head of the household became angry” (Lk.14:21).

The parable ends rather abruptly with Jesus saying (Lk.14:24),

I tell you, NONE of those men who were invited (and rejected my invitation) shall taste of my dinner.

In Old Testament Psalms are full of words of inspiration.

  In Ps.39:4,David prays:

Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the extent of my days, Let me know how transient I am.

  In Ps.90:12, Moses praysSo teach us to number our days, that we may present to thee a heart of wisdom

James, who once rejected Jesus but later awakened to his error & came to acknowledge Jesus as Lord reminds us (Js.4:14):

You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.

Your life is like a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Joshua’s last words were spoken in an assembly of the people of Israel and are recorded in Josh.24:15

Choose for yourselves … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Robert Smith wrote this poem:

The clock of life is wound but once,   And no man has the power

To tell just when the hands will stop   At late or early hour.

To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed,   To lose one’s health is more,

To lose one’s soul is such a loss   that no man can restore.

The present only is our own,   So live, love, toil with a will,

Place no faith in ‘tomorrow’,   For the clock may then be still.

Invitation:  Quote Gal.3:26-27 and Acts 22:16

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