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God’s Word for You

Luke 14:21-22 There still is room

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, September 25, 2018

21 So the servant returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 The servant said, ‘Lord, what you ordered has been done, and there still is room.’

The purpose of the parable was to warn the Jews in Jesus’ day that they were rejecting the Messiah they had been waiting for ever since Eve was given the first promise of the gospel in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). It was not as if the gospel was not powerful enough to do its work. In fact, Paul asserts: “Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). God has prepared his heaven, and in the parable, the Master sends out his servants to find anyone in town to fill the places. They don’t need to be the specially invited guests now, but they could be those people who the invited ones looked down on. God had already promised: “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34:16, RSV). “In that day,” the Lord said, “the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see” (Isaiah 29:18). And also: “I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth” (Zephaniah 3:19). “I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away” (Micah 4:6).

The gospel is not only for the religious leadership of the Jews and their Pharisees. It is also for the ordinary Jews, even if their circumstances are humble or even if they have been oppressed. Christ came to wipe away their sins along with every else’s. Solomon reached out to such and their simple, wise faith when he said: “Wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heeded” (Ecclesiastes 9:15).

But having gone throughout the city of the invited—all of the Hebrews and their descendants—the servants of the Lord found that there was still plenty of room left in the kingdom for more. Now the Lord would look outside the city; outside of Israel altogether. To our inexpressible joy, the Lord sent his gospel invitation out into the pagan world, and he sent it to us, to the Gentiles. “I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples” (Isaiah 49:22; see also Micah 4:2). “God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

It didn’t seem like this would be the case. The Old Testament is filled with curses against the pagan nations, the Gentiles who made war against the people of God. The Lord condemned “the unclean practices of their Gentiles neighbors” (Ezra 6:21). He called them “Gentile enemies” (Nehemiah 5:9), nations that were “like a worthless thing” (Hosea 8:8), those who despised Israel (Obadiah 2). Yet from this miserable hoard of enemies, God sent out his servants and said, “Collect more guests for my banquet.” This is how most of us—me included, and maybe you, too—came to be gathered into the banquet of the Lord, the kingdom of eternal life.

We thank God for his compassionate mercy day after day. He chose to spare us, we who were not his people at all, we who descended from the cursed sons of Noah and remained outside his kingdom for generations upon generation. For this is what brought us into his kingdom, when he explained to all the world that the cross of Christ covers the guilt of Gentiles as well as Jews. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16). Treasure the gift that has been offered. There still is room.

An old German hymn goes:

There still is room! His house is not yet filled;
Not all the guests are there.
Oh, bring them in! Their hunger shall be stilled
With bread, yes, bread to spare.
Go, call them from the lanes and byways,
From winding roads and crowded highways.
There still is room! There still is room!
(Christian Worship 565:1)

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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