of The Message
My father and
I are continuing our series on "Parables for Everyday
Living" which Jesus told to His followers as He taught
them to live life abundantly and eternally. Today I want
to share and explain a little bit about the "Parable
of the Great Banquet." This is an incredible story
Jesus told, which gives us tremendous insight into life
in the kingdom of God.
First, let me give you the setting. Jesus is in an unusual
place for Him. He is actually having dinner with the Pharisees
and the teachers of the law. He is usually not sitting down
to dinner with them, but Jesus is usually found in the homes
of the common people, like you and me. Now the discussions
are heavy and the questions are many. It is evident that
there is much disagreement and suspicion among these learned
religious leaders about this itinerant preacher, Jesus Christ.
Then Jesus tells this parable. Luke records this so descriptively
in Chapter 14:16 to 24. A man is preparing a banquet, an
incredible feast. So, he sends out his invitations to all
of his friends and his family. But the word comes back to
him that several are not coming to his house for his dinner.
He is really upset, because the excuses they give are really
One friend says, "Sorry, I bought a piece of land and
I've got to go look at it." How many people buy real
estate without looking at it? Another invited guest replies,
"I've just bought some oxen so I have to go check them
out." It is the same kind of excuse. Who buys a car
without trying it out? Well, on rare occasions you do. Can
you believe I did? I bought a car, sight unseen, off the
internet and had it shipped out from Pennsylvania. My family
and friends really ridiculed me for it, but I was lucky,
it worked. Thank God.
The third invited guest replies, "I just got married."
Of the three lame excuses, his was the most important. With
all of his guests saying they could not come to his banquet,
the host has a problem. The food has been prepared, so he
tells his servants to "go out and invite the lame,
the poor and the blind and bring them in and fill my house
so that the banquet will not go to waste, and the food will
be eaten. They will have enough to eat. They will not need
to beg for any food tonight."
So the servants did what the Master ordered, and then came
back and said "Master, there is still room in the house.
There is still more food." Then the Master said, "Go
into the byways, the alleys, and the highways and invite
them. Bring them in, anyone who wants to come."
One of the great quotes I read this week while I was preparing
this message was one by David Wilkinson, the pastor of Moorpark
Presbyterian Church. He said, "Religions says, "do".
Jesus says, "it is done." Religion tells the sinner
"to do, go and pay." That is the meaning, the
purpose and the explanation of this entire parable. The
Pharisees were all about doing, paying, and going. Jesus
is about being. He goes to the very core and the heart of
who we are, and He calls out to us to come. He wants us
to respond with a positive answer. I have to ask what kind
of excuses are we giving? Because today we give many lame
excuses to God and to His church.
Last night here in this cathedral, I was sharing and talking
with a group of people who came here to pray on Worldwide
Cancer Prayer Day. Each year, for the past 7 years on this
day, I have been praying for families and victims of cancer.
Last night as I was sat here, preparing to pray, a dear
friend of mine whom I hadn't seen for several years, came
and sat right next to me. I was shocked. I was so surprised
to see him. His name is Bill Austin. As Bill came to sit
next to me, he put his arm around me, saying, "Hi Robert,
how are you?" I said, "Bill, what are you doing
here?" He said, "I came here because God told
me to come here and see you."
I said, "how did you know I'd be here? I'm not here
on Saturdays." He said, "well I wasn't sure, but
I just thought I might run in to you. I didn't know, but
God told me to come, so I hopped in my car and I drove over
I interviewed him some years ago here in the Crystal Cathedral.
Bill Austin makes hearing aids and has nearly a hundred
factories around the world in almost 20 countries. He made
the hearing aids for Ronald Reagan. He makes hearing aids
for many famous people in the world. He has made most hearing
aids for every person who needs one. I couldn't believe
that Bill, who has 4,000 employees, personally came rather
than sending some of his employees to come and give me a
message. I said to him, "Bill, you give people more
than physical hearing. You give them spiritual hearing."
He replied, "you know what I am doing; you understand
what I am all about. I want to give people a spiritual message
that they can hear the loving voice of God, and have dignity."
He said, "a terrible thing happens when children cannot
hear. They are cut off from society. They feel like they
are less of a human being. They don't feel like God loves
them anymore." He continued, "Today I gave hearing
aids to a whole bus load of inner city kids who came down
to our factory. I worked all day long giving hearing aids
away. When they arrived, before they got off the bus, I
went on the bus and through their hearing instructor and
sign language, I asked them "do you know why you are
here? One of the kids raised his hand; he says, "yeah,
we're here today to get hearing aids." Bill said, "no,
you are here today because God loves you. I wouldn't be
here giving you all hearing aids if I didn't know that God
loves me, and I want you to know that God loves you too."
Before they received their physical hearing, I wanted them
to open their spiritual ears and hear about the incredible
love that God has for them." And with that kind welcome,
the children and young people got off the busses and started
receiving their hearing aids, and Bill Austin fit every
single one of them.
You can learn a lot about peoples' joys in life by looking
at their trophy case. At another visit with Bill, he showed
me one of his trophies. It was the cheapest, oldest hearing
aid that I ever saw in my life. It was all patched and glued
together. It looked kind of like one of those antique vases
that have been reconstructed after an archeological dig.
I said to him, "Why is this old hearing aid so important
to you?" He replied, "a young man came into our
factory with this hearing aid and it was nothing more than
a bunch of pieces. It was a mess, completely destroyed.
The young man asked, "can you fix my mother's hearing
aid, please? I said, "no we can't fix that one, we'll
just have to fit her for a new one. He said, "I'm afraid
we don't have time for that, you see my mother is dying.
There are things we want to tell her and that she wants
to tell us, but we can’t communicate because she can't
hear anything. It just so happened that my son was standing
there behind the counter that day and he said, "Let
me try, I'll see what I can do." He put it back together.
He filled all the cracks and the pieces with glue and he
just patched this thing together until it worked, and he
made it work.
The young man picked it up a couple of hours later and came
back a few days later to tell me how he put it in his mother's
ear, and it was like suddenly she was alive again. She got
a twinkle in her eye, she smiled, and she was happy and
she started eating her food that the nursing home staff
had sent to her. Then her son took a bite of her hot dog
and she asked, "is that your hot dog, or mine? "Ah,
it's yours, mom." "I thought so." And she
ate her entire meal and they had an opportunity to share
some things that were really important to share.
After she finished her meal she said, you know. "I'd
like to go see the sun. I think it's a pretty day today.
So, her son wheeled her out by the front window and as she
sat there and looked out of the window, she said, "oh,
it is a beautiful day today. Look at the sun. It's a beautiful
day today. It's a beautiful day today." Her eyes rolled
back, she dropped her head and she died, peacefully. Her
son brought the hearing aid back to Bill, and that is Bill's
1) Open spiritual ears, then
beyond spiritual ears we need to develop spiritual character.
Now what is spiritual character?
In 1946 Don Seibert accepted a job to go up to sing and
play with his band up to a lake resort in Northern New York.
It just so happened that the weather that summer was not
very good. All of the reservations cancelled because it
was too cold and too wet. As a result, the resort could
not afford to pay him and his band anymore, and told them
that they were going to have to let them go. So two of the
band members left right away, but Don hung around the resort
because he had a commitment. He had also signed a rental
agreement to lease a place for his band members and himself
and he was obligated to that lease. But, one after another,
the band members left, then the last band member came to
Don and said, "you know, you have got to watch out
for number one and I need to do that, so I'm going ... I'll
see ya", and he left. So, Don was left paying the rent
all by himself. He worked at extra side jobs working extra
hard at all kinds of jobs. Finally by October his lease
had expired, but he still owed one hundred and fifty dollars.
So Don continued to work at other odd jobs until he was
able to pay the total one hundred and fifty dollars. That
was a lot of money back in 1946.
At the end of the summer, he went back to Chicago and that
Fall, Don got a job in J.C. Penney selling shoes. It wasn’t
long before the character of his personhood rose through
the corporation and Don was promoted to manager, then district
manager. Don ultimately became the Chairman of the Board
of the nationally known chain of J.C. Penney stores.
2) Develop Spiritual Character.
Character takes place when we do what we say we are going
to do. So when you receive an invitation to come to the
banquet of God, do you say, "yes, I will be there."
Then at the last minute you decide, "I have to go check
on that real estate instead. You receive the call from God
and you say, "I’ll be there." Then all of
a sudden you say, "do you know what? Something else
has come up, I just cannot make it right now."
Character is when we do what we say we are going to do.
We make it happen
1) Open Spiritual ears
2) Develop character action
3) Know eternal peace.
God is calling. He's calling you and He's calling me. When
we respond to that call and we allow the Holy Spirit of
God to develop that character within us and we to do what
we say we are going to do, an unbelievable, beautiful experience
This past week the town called Laguna Beach has been mourning
the loss of two young students. Their parents are both teachers
in the high school. Saturday night there was an automobile
accident and they were both tragically killed. They were
devoted Christians. One was an Eagle Scout. The other went
on mission trips. This past week there was a memorial service
for these two young students at the Presbyterian Church
in Laguna Beach. The church was packed one and a half hours
before the service started. The overflow in the basement
was packed; also the fellowship hall, and the courtyard
in the middle of the church. Thousands upon thousands of
people came to mourn the loss of these two young outstanding
men. As we sat there, we recognized the incredible life
that God had given to each of them. We recognized the fact
they both had this incredible peace because they were both
dedicated, wonderful Christians.
They had just returned from a mission trip. They were devoted
to their church, and now the outpouring of God's love was
evident. People could feel and witness the fact that these
two young men are now enjoying the great banquet of God.
The parable says that there is still room, to go out everywhere
and bring people to the banquet and to enjoy the feast.
This is the call we hear today, "Come." It is
not a religion, but it is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is not based upon "doing this" and "doing
that." No, the invitation is based upon receiving and
accepting the gift that God has for you.
I invite you today to accept the invitation of Jesus to
"Come." "Come to the table." "Come
to the feast." "Come and experience the beauty
and the wonder of God’s grace and God’s love
1) Open spiritual ears
2) Develop spiritual character
3) Enjoy eternal peace.
Pray with me:
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You that You are a great,
glorious and wonderful God. That as I come before You, You
will open my ears, You will open my heart, You will touch
me with Your peace. Transform me into the person that You
have called me to be. So allow Your Holy presence and Spirit
to touch me where I need that touch the most. We love you