Now…we were supposed to have a potluck at Gregg Lake today, but it we are delaying it because quite a few of us are spread all over the country…and beyond. For instance, Tracy, John, and their family are Alaska-way…Winslow is with his wife in Puerto Rico…and I'd have to leave the cook-out early because I have to catch a flight to San Francisco about 4PM this afternoon.
However, since I had already settled on preaching about potlucks…you are stuck with the subject. 🙂
Good news is that I also intended to keep it short so we could get to Gregg Lake early…
You keep the subject and the timing! 🙂
Favorite Potluck Food
When you think of potlucks, do you mentally lick your chops? I've been to some pretty good ones…and some not-so-good ones. For a while we attended a Chinese church in Sydney…
No, we don't speak a Chinese dialect…they always translated the sermon into whichever language the speaker didn't preach in…
But after every service that had an awesome potluck…something else you can confirm with my wife!
You would think they were Italian, however, in that they were like an Italian mother who is always trying to get you to eat more. Mikey wasn't old enough for him to be likely remember how great it was…but I bet you Michelle is mentally saying, "Mmmm" with me as I talk about this.
How about you? Have you experienced good and bad potlucks? What is your favorite potluck food?
[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]
When I didn't worry about carbohydrates I used to love how Seventh-day Adventist potlucks always had a bunch of dishes with beans. I know that resulted in some danger driving home with the windows closed afterward :-), but those dishes could be especially appealing. As I think about it, however, probably my favorite Adventist potluck food is a thing called haystacks, where you put a layer of Fritos on the bottom, then vegetarian chili, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, chopped onions, and so on in a "pick-and-choose your toppings" kind of way.
I could stand up here and continue to attempt to make you all salivate like Pavlov's dog…but we are in a church…and this is a sermon…so at some point we should start discussing spiritual things, eh? 🙂
Although I titled this sermon "Celestial Potluck," I will admit the Bible doesn't actually speak about one. However, it does have a good bit to say about a banquet we've been invited to. We'll first read about it in Luke:
16 But he said to him, "A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.' 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.' 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.' 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.' 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet'" (Luke 14:16-24).
Before we consider those words…I'd like to look at the end of a very similar parable recorded by Matthew. The entire section would be Matthew 22:1-14, but we are going to join it after the servants have likewise gone out to invite a new set of guests. Let's turn to Matthew 22:10-14:
10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 For many are called, but few are chosen."
In neither of those references do we actually get so see if we are going to enjoy haystacks in the heavenly banquet, but we can learn quite a bit about the invitations…
First, when you get the invitation, you should not reject it. Now, I don't think God get's angry like we understand anger…but the reality is that the character in the parable who represents God wasn't saddened at the new field owner, the person who had just purchased five ox, or the newlywed who gave up the party for his wife…
God wasn't saddened…he was more than just a little bit miffed. He was furious!
Do I think the parable was meant to say God is mad at us if we reject His invitation? No. But I do think He is trying to say it is a really, really, really bad thing to do…
Second…connected to the first…perhaps a bit loosely from the verses we've read…do not hesitate to attend. As Jesus also said in Luke 9:62, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." That was in response to someone who asked if he could say farewell to his family before he left with our Lord…sounds like a reasonable request, doesn't it? Well, Jesus knew the man's heart and that instead of it being a genuine familial concern…the guy was hesitating to commit…just like the one just before him who asked to allowed to bury his father first. Do you remember Jesus' shocking words to that man? "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:60).
Third, God is doing everything He can to fill the banquet. We should be very thankful of that. Chances are the ones in the parable who rejected God's invitation were Israel, and the rabble that were invited afterward were us…and rabble we are!
Now, the Bible shows God always intended to invite us Gentiles too…Jesus' parables help us to know just what extent He will go to invite the undeserving.
And I praise God for that…since I am one of the most undeserving.
Fourth, the only way in is through Christ.
Notice the last guy…why did he get thrown out of the banquet? Because he wasn't wearing a "wedding garment."
Where do we get that garment? Isaiah can help us figure that out in Isaiah 61:10:
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
I know Isaiah doesn't mention Jesus specifically, but I'm going to assume that you've all read the phrase on our large church sign that is a part of John 14:6: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
The only way into the banquet is through Jesus…
Only Two Options
Now, I promised this talk would be short…so I want to make two more points.
First…that as you consider our Lord's invitation to the wedding banquet…you need to be aware that there are only two options on where to eat. Paul shares those mutually exclusive alternatives with us in 1 Corinthians 10:18-22:
18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
As I've mentioned in a previous sermon, you will either pull up a chair to God's table, or the Devil's table. If you reject God's invitation you are accepting Satan's.
Now…God does keep trying to get us to accept His invitation…but if you keep putting it off to bury your dead or say goodbye to your family…and you die before you get your act together…Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that "it is appointed for man to die once, and after comes the judgment."
You will wake up seated at the Devil's table.
The final point I want to make is is thanks to Revelation 19:9:
9 And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."
"Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." What's interesting is that the verse just before Jesus gave His parable in Luke…the one we started off with…is this:
15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!"
The angel in revelation said that those were "true words of God."
Are there "truer words"?
I don't think so…
The Company You Keep
Now…keeping it short as I have…I really have not shown you how the banquet is going to be so amazing…but I have previously given a bit of a run-down of how great heaven is, haven't I?
But the reality is, no matter how amazing (or exotic) the place for a party is, no matter how great the food at a potluck is, no matter how kicking the band is…or remembering Scott and his girlfriend…the DJ is. When you think about the banquets you have enjoyed…what really mattered?
Wasn't it the people you were with?
Every week we are blessed to partake of the Lord's Supper. Let's close by reviewing Matthew's recollection of its institution in Matthew 26:26-29:
26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."
The reason we should not reject God's invitation…
The reason we should not hesitate in accepting God's invitation…
The reason we should be so grateful that God has gone through such great effort to invite us…
The reason we should put on the wedding clothes that Jesus gave us on the cross…
Is because of who will be attending the banquet with us.
Jesus will be attending…and He has been waiting to drink the "fruit of the vine" with us for over 2,000 years…
The invitation to join Him is before you…
Will you reject it?
Will you hesitate?
Or will you RSVP right now?