The Review and Herald

970/1902

January 17, 1899

The Great Supper

EGW

Under the parable of a great supper, Christ shows that many will choose the world above himself, and, as the result, will lose heaven. He said: “A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servant at supper-time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.” RH January 17, 1899, par. 1

Long before the feast, the invitations had been given; and when the supper was ready, the servants went to call the guests. But those bidden did not appreciate the invitation. “They all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I can not come.” RH January 17, 1899, par. 2

Again the king sent to those who had refused the invitation, giving them every opportunity to reflect, and to accept the gracious call. “Behold,” he said, “my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.” RH January 17, 1899, par. 3

When the servant came and showed his lord these things, the master of the house was angry. He turned from those who had thus insulted the bounty offered them; and invited a class who were not full,—who were not in possession of houses and lands, but were poor and hungry, and would appreciate the bounties provided, and in return would render to the master sincere gratitude, unfeigned love and devotion. He said to his servants: “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servants said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.” RH January 17, 1899, par. 4

The command was then given: “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” RH January 17, 1899, par. 5

The greatest privilege of the Jewish nation lay in their possession of light concerning the kingdom of God. To them had been entrusted the oracles of God. When others were in darkness, and knew not God, they were entrusted with a revelation of God's will. The truth was committed to them in clear lines, to be communicated to others; but instead of feeling the obligation they were under to God to impart to others all they had received from him, they were filled with self-complacency. They made the boast that they were the only favored people of God, and were therefore more exalted than other nations. RH January 17, 1899, par. 6

The outward sign is of no value with God, if the heart and mind and strength are not devoted to him. If these are used to exalt and favor self, all claims to superior wisdom will be as nothing in his sight. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,” he says, “neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” RH January 17, 1899, par. 7

When Christ sent forth his disciples, first twelve, and later seventy, declaring, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” the gospel message was not accepted. Those bidden to the feast would not come. These servants were sent out later to say: “Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.” This was the message borne to the Jewish nation after Christ was crucified; but the nation that claimed to be God's peculiar people rejected the gospel brought to them in the power of the Holy Spirit. Many did this in the most scornful manner; while others were so exasperated by the offer of salvation—the offer of pardon for rejecting the Lord of life and glory—that they turned upon the bearers of the message, stoning Stephen, killing James by the sword, and committing men and women to prison. RH January 17, 1899, par. 8

Then the third call was made, in the highways and hedges,—a compelling call to the marriage supper of the Lamb: “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” RH January 17, 1899, par. 9

In the work of the servants in the highways and hedges is represented the call to the Gentiles. The Jews had despised the message, and cruelly treated the messengers; yet the wedding was furnished with guests. Paul and Barnabas declared to the Jews: “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” RH January 17, 1899, par. 10

The scene changes. The king comes in to examine the guests; and he sees one who has come to the table without the wedding garment, which he himself has provided for every guest. He is clothed in his old citizen's dress. Why should he insult his lord by refusing to wear the dress that has been prepared for him? Addressing the one who has thus dishonored him, the king says: “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.” RH January 17, 1899, par. 11

This parable correctly represents the condition of many who profess to believe in Christ. The Lord has sent them an invitation to the supper that he has prepared for them, at great cost to himself; but worldly interests look to them of greater importance than the heavenly treasure. They are invited to take part in things of eternal interest; but their farms, their cattle, and their home interests seem of so much greater importance than obedience to the heavenly invitation, that they overpower every divine attraction. These earthly things are made the excuse for disobedience to the command, “Come; for all things are now ready.” Those invited to the heavenly feast look at their worldly possessions, and say, “No, Lord; I can not follow thee; I pray thee have me excused.” RH January 17, 1899, par. 12

The very blessings that God has given to these men, to prove them, to see if they will render unto God “the things that are God's,” they use as an excuse for refusing to obey the claims of truth. They grasp their earthly treasure, and say, “I must take care of these things; I must not neglect the things of this life; these things are mine.” Thus their hearts become as unimpressible as the beaten highway. They close the door of their hearts to the heavenly message, but throw it open to the world's burdens and business cares; and Jesus knocks in vain for admittance. RH January 17, 1899, par. 13

All who have had the light of truth are being tested, as were the Jews. As a people, we have been exalted to the highest privileges. The Lord has been revealed to us in ever-increasing light. Our privileges are far greater than were the privileges of the Jews. We have not only the great light committed to ancient Israel, but we have also the increased evidence of the great salvation brought to us through Christ. That which was type and symbol to the Jews is reality to us. They had the Old Testament history; we have that and the New Testament also. We have the assurance of a Saviour who has come,—a Saviour who has been crucified, has risen, and has proclaimed over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” In our knowledge of Jesus and his love, the kingdom of God has been placed in the midst of us. Christ has been proclaimed to us in sermons and chanted to us in songs. The spiritual banquet has been set before us in rich abundance. We have had presented to us by the messengers of God the richest feast,—the righteousness of Christ, justification by faith, the exceeding great and precious promises of God in his word, free access to the Father by Jesus Christ, the comforts of the Holy Spirit, and the well-grounded assurance of eternal life in the kingdom of God. We ask, What could God do for us that he has not done in preparing the great supper, the heavenly banquet? RH January 17, 1899, par. 14

The glory, riches, and honor offered by the Son of God are of infinite value; it is beyond the power of men, or even of angels, to give any just idea of their worth. If men, plunged in sin and degradation, refuse these heavenly benefits, refuse a life of obedience, scorn the gracious invitation of mercy, and choose the paltry things of earth, Christ will carry out the figure used in the parable. Such will not taste of his glory, but the invitation will be extended to another class. Those who choose to make excuses, and continue in sin and conformity to the world, will be left to their idols. There will be a day when not one will beg to be excused. When Christ shall come in his glory, and in the glory of the Father, with all the heavenly angels surrounding him, there will not be one indifferent spectator. Speculations will not then engross the soul. The miser's piles of gold, which have feasted his eyes, will no longer be attractive. The palaces which the proud men of earth have erected, and which have been their idols, they will turn from with loathing. No one will then plead his lands, his oxen, or the wife he has just married, as a reason why he should be excused from sharing the glory that bursts upon his astonished vision. All will want a share, but know it is not for them. RH January 17, 1899, par. 15

In earnest, agonizing prayer they call for God not to pass them by. The kings, the mighty men, the lofty, the proud, the mean man, alike bow together under a pressure of woe, desolation, misery inexpressible. The heart-anguished prayer is wrung from their lips, “Save us from the wrath of an offended God.” But a voice, terrible in its majesty, answers them: “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.” RH January 17, 1899, par. 16