At church yesterday, the pastor preached about the story of the banquet invitation in Luke 14:12-23. A master of a house had a banquet and invited people to it, but they all gave him excuses not to come: one of them had to see a field, another had to examine five yoke of oxen that he bought, and another had recently gotten married. The master is irate and invites the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame, and they came. When there was still room at the banquet, the master told his sermon to go out to the highways and compel people to come in.
The pastor talked about how all of us like to keep score. His family did not go to a relative’s wedding, so the relative’s family made sure not to go to the pastor’s wedding. Even though many of us have been invited to parties over the course of our lives, we still remember that time when we were not invited to a party: when we were left out. The pain from the slight is still there.
We assume that, because we like to keep score, God does, too. That is what the law does. The problem is that we fail the test. If God were to grade us according to the law, God would keep track of that time when we lost our temper and blew up at our family, or that time when we passed by a homeless person and thought unkind things.
According to the pastor, from the “keeping score,” legalistic standpoint, the people initially invited to the banquet had valid excuses. One of the men had just gotten married, and Deuteronomy 24:5 exempts a man who had just gotten married from military service for a year.
The master makes an invitation that is based on grace. He extends it to the crippled, the blind, and the lame, people who, according to the pastor, were excluded from the temple. (See here for a post I wrote a while back evaluating if that is true.) The master was inviting people who could not pay him back. God invites us to partake of the riches of God’s grace, even though we do not deserve it. We partake on the basis of the invitation.