Dinner Was Served . . . But Nobody Came
Tom M. Roberts
Fort Worth, Texas
One of the biggest "boners" I ever pulled while in a gospel meeting was to forget a dinner engagement. The good sister had gone to a great deal of trouble preparing a meal of outstanding food. Having known my family for a number of years, she had gone to special trouble to prepare just the things she knew we liked. Imagine, if you can, my chagrin when I learned that I had forgotten this appointment and had been somewhere else. This lady had labored over the stove, set a nice table, had everything in preparation and waited ... and waited ... and waited. We never showed up and didn't call. It was only later that I learned of my mistake and I am embarrassed about it to this day! She served dinner, but nobody came.
Through this error of mine I have come to appreciate a little more the invitation of the Lord. Jesus illustrated the kingdom invitation by the story of a supper to which nobody came. In Luke 14:15-24 He relates that "a certain man made a great supper, and he bade many: and he sent forth 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 . . ."
Without a doubt, it is one of the lowest forms of ingratitude to scorn a dinner invitation. Hospitality, honestly and sincerely extended, is but an extension of the heart of the host. To treat the dinner with disrespect, intentionally, is to treat the host with disrespect. It is an insult to refuse hospitality under these conditions. It does not take one of great wisdom to see this fact, when speaking of earthly things.
The Lord has extended an invitation for all men to sit with him in the kingdom of heaven. Everything is prepared, the table is set, everything is in readiness. God spent centuries in planning the kingdom (church) and brought it into existence by the precious blood of Christ. Has ever an invitation been so valuable? Would you cherish an invitation to sit down at a dinner in the White House with the President? But friend, such a thing pales into insignificance when we consider the invitation of the Creator of the universe to be a part of the kingdom of heaven and receive eternal life. What an invitation!
But just like the story in our scriptural text, people refuse to appreciate the honor of the invitation. Few want to come. While the excuses may vary, the intent is the same - the host (God) is not held in honor and the invitation is scorned. Like Esau of old, people today are profane and willingly exchange the Father's blessing for a mess of this world's stew. Everyone has an excuse: "I work too hard," or "I am too busy," or "I have other things that I enjoy doing."
In the Lord's illustration the man who gave the supper was angry at those who refused his invitation. Why? Because he knew that they were not just refusing a meal but were refusing the host himself. Those invited did not appreciate him, his generosity, his interest on their behalf or anything else he was trying to do. His decision about those who spurned the invitation was "that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper" (v. 24).
Friend, do you spurn the Lord's invitation to eat at the Lord's table in His kingdom? Do you treat lightly His entreaty to come and be a part of the great feast for the soul that is planned? Do you think nothing of the preparation of it, the cost of it (the blood of Christ), or the willingness of the Lord to provide for our needs? How many times has someone tried to interest you in the Lord's kingdom? How many gospel sermons have you heard? How many times have you treated the Lord shamefully in this matter? While we have time and opportunity, the Lord keeps the invitation open. "But it is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27). Once this opportunity is gone, there will never be another, though eternity's years roll on. If you miss the opportunity now, you that have been bidden "shall (not) taste of my supper."
When I made my blunder and missed the invitation of the meal prepared by the good sister to which I referred earlier, I was able to apologize and make amends. She was even gracious enough to fix another meal later and invite us again. But the embarrassment that I felt helped me to realize that God has done infinitely greater in preparing the invitation to the kingdom and I plan to respond. Will you respond to the Lord's invitation? Or will you make excuses? Your decision will determine where you spend eternity. Will you be one of those who will say throughout eternity, regretfully, "Dinner was served . . . but I didn't come"?
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 10, p. 295