Come... for all things are now ready

“Come for all things are now ready…" (Luke 14:16-24; see also Matt. 22:1-14)

This is one of the parables of the Lord that illustrates the Gospel and the consequences of our ignoring it. 

The parable is recorded both in the Gospel of Luke and in the Gospel of Matthew where there are some additional details about the recipients.   The parable tells of a man who made a great supper (in Matthew it is a king who made a marriage for his son) and who then sent out to tell the guests to "Come for all things are now ready” and to bid them to share in the ‘great supper’ but they would not come.  Matthew tells us that “they made light of it and went their ways.”  They had, in their view, better and more important things to do and treated the invitation with disdain.  So they “began with one consent to make excuse.”   It is as though they had a bit of a conversation together so that they could respond collectively, as none wanted to be out on a limb.  Not only so but in Matthew’s account we are told that they treated the king’s messengers shamefully, and records the reaction of the king.  We shall think about that later.

Let us look at the excuses of the invitees.  

1.  "I have bought a piece of ground and must needs go and see it.”   Now this doesn’t mean simply go and look at it, but rather that he must pay attention to it, to concentrate on it implying that doing that was of much more concern to him than the great supper.  He was more concerned about his possessions, although common sense would have suggested that nothing drastic would have happened to his field during the relatively short time of celebration.

2.  “I bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them.”  Though it is said that he ‘bought’ the five yoke of oxen, by his own confession he still had to prove them.   Now the word for prove suggests perhaps that he had not yet taken possession of his purchase, he had yet to ‘test’ them, or ‘scrutinise’ them; or to use a modern expression check that they were ‘fit for purpose.’   This indicates, again, that there was no real urgency about the matter, but it was something that the man preferred to do than attend the supper.

3.  “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”  It is perfectly true that marriage brings extra responsibilities, and indeed the Law of Moses allows that a man who has just taken a wife was to be excused military service for one year (Deut. 24:5), but here the man is demanding and expecting the same allowance from the generous host(the king).  ‘I cannot come’ he says.  Of course he could come, he just did not want to.  His attitude towards the great man was so appalling that he did not want to take the trouble.

Now these occupations are quite legitimate in themselves: of course it was necessary for the man to look after his farm, of course it was necessary for the man to prove his oxen, of course it was necessary for a man to consider his wife, but each was placing that above the privilage of going to the supper.   All treated the invitation as something burdensome, a nuisance, wearisome to the flesh something that would interfere with the smooth order of their life.

Now let us be clear about this.  The parable is figurative of the invitation by God Himself to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9), and yet men and women treat God’s invitaion with disdain.  I’m too busy to think about salvation, I have better things to do, it is way down in my priorities we might say; and yet in reality it is the most important thing that we ever have to attend to.  “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter" said the Athenians (Acts 17:22), but they never did have another opportunity as far as we know.  

In the parallel passage in Matthew Chapteer 22, the seriousness of their rejection is depicted more vividly.  The gross insult to the King and to his Son is met with the severest judgement for as the murderers are destroyed and their city burned.   What price their farms, their merchandise, their marriage in the time of judgement.

While the parable is illustrative of the rejection of the Jewish people of the Son of God; nevertheless in the generosity of the king he goes out into the streets and lanes, the highways and byways which is illustrative of God reaching out to you and me as Gentiles and inviting us to share in the blessing of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  Will you be there?

Let us therefore respond to the invitation: “Come for all things are now ready”


© Douglas Carr 2021