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God’s Word for You

Luke 14:23-24 Fill ‘er up!

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, September 26, 2018

23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the roads and hedgerows, and make people come in, so that my house may be filled.

If you read these words and feel nothing but the grace of God who had mercy on you, a sinner (Luke 18:13), then you have understood the passage rightly. But this passage is a door by which violence and some of the worst human characteristics have shown themselves. Here is where the inquisitor justified his obscene tortures by saying, “Christ commands me to compel people to come into the kingdom; to make them come, to force them in.” The word in verse 23 is ἀνάγκασον, the imperative of ἀνακάζω (anakazo), “force, urge, compel, insist.” This is the very word Paul used to rebuke Peter: “How is it that you ‘force’ Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?” (Galatians 2:14). But this isn’t about forcing people at swordpoint or gunpoint to become Christian, but rather to compel by removing all fear. Break down the barriers of doubt and unbelief with the gospel promise that this feast is for all.

The master wants his house filled up. The passive gemisthe (γεμισθῇ) shows us that he wanted his servants to keep compelling the people out in the fields and towns nearby. One commentator used the word “gypsies” for the sorts of people invited in—anyone was welcome who was willing to come. Get the seats filled! Get those knives and forks into hungry hands! Fill willing fingers with goblets and bring them up to thirsty lips! This “fill” is the word Moses uses to describe the camels “loaded” with spices, balm, and myrrh when poor Joseph was sold (Genesis 37:25). It’s the word Mark uses to describe the boat as it was nearly “swamped” because of the sudden storm and the water crashing over the boat’s sides (Mark 4:37). With it, John describes the altar filled with fire (Revelation 8:5) and the temple filled with smoke (Revelation 15:8), and Pharaoh happily tells Joseph to load down his brothers’ animals and take back plenty of treasure to their father Jacob (Genesis 45:17). The Lord’s house is not yet full! Like we used to say in the days of full-service gas stations: Fill ‘er up!

The gospel is for people who were lost in their sin. The work of the devil has made every single human being lost and undesirable to the Lord, but the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross has brought everyone into God’s family who trusts in that Savior, who relies on that cross, who falls at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are the undesirables, the once uninvited; the dregs of humanity. Through Christ we are brought clear up to the top.

24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will taste my banquet.’”

Is this Jesus speaking about eternity, or is this the master of the banquet talking about his meal? It must be both; it cannot be one but not the other. The banquet story recedes instantly into the background, however, and Jesus’ meaning about eternal life is all we consider in the end. Those who were originally invited found any invalid excuse not to come to the banquet. Jesus wasn’t their kind of Messiah, and yet he is the only Messiah.

Today there is a raging fire of a heresy as countless Christians are led to forget about Jesus as the sacrifice for sins and think of him only as a prophet, the Giver of Good Examples, the parable-speaker and Pharisee-basher, but not the Lamb of God slaughtered for our sins. They are deceived into thinking that they are somehow saved through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, and not through the justifying blood of Christ. They look to the Millennium for the restoration of the people and the reign of Christ, and they reject the throne of the cross. Be patient with them: They have been misled. But be honest with them: We are saved through the blood of Christ alone.

Before we wonder about the feast prepared for us in heaven, let us turn our attention and our whole faith toward the feast prepared and given to us here on earth. It is through the Supper of the Lord that we are made ready to partake of the Banquet in heaven.

I come, O Savior, to your table,
For weak and weary is my soul;
O Jesus, you alone are able
To satisfy and make me whole.
Lord, may your body and your blood
Be for my soul the highest good! (Christian Worship 310:1)

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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