A Neglected Command
by James Smith, 1860
"A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests: Come, the banquet is ready!" Luke 14:16-17
Our Lord, by this parable, compares the gospel to a great feast, to which the guests would not come. It became necessary therefore to invite others; and the Lord of the feast gave this command to his servant, "Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city — and bring in the poor, and the maimed, the halt, and the blind." Luke 14:21. Let us notice,
The Provision Made. It is called a great feast, made toward the end of time, to meet all the wants and woes of those upon whom the ends of the world are come.
A great feast. Jesus called it so — who well knew what greatness was; and we shall call it so — if we consider several things:
1. It was provided by the great GOD. By God, who
does everything like himself. Yet, he has never has done anything upon so
grand a scale as this. Greatness is stamped upon the thought which conceived
it, upon the end fixed by it, and upon all the features of the divine
character displayed in it. The great, the mighty, the infinite God — made a
great feast, to display . . .
the greatness of his grace,
the vastness of his resources,
and the infinite nature of his love.
2. It was purchased at a great PRICE.
It cost the Father the life of his only begotten Son.
It cost the Son . . .
years of suffering,
days of the most intense agony,
the most shameful painful death!
No created intellect could sum up the cost of this great feast, provided for the vilest of mankind, and treated with contempt by many of them!
3. It contains great PLENTY and VARIETY. Here is enough, and to spare. The provision can never be exhausted. The whole world might feed, and there would be enough left for other worlds.
And the variety is as great as the quantity. Here
is what will . . .
suit every appetite,
meet every want, and
delight every one that partakes of it.
It is a great, a glorious feast!
4. It is intended for a great COMPANY. Millions upon millions shall come — and all may come. The invitation, which was at first particular, and addressed only to the Jews, is now made general, and addressed to all, Jew and Gentile alike. Those are as much invited who refuse, as those who come; and the invitation is as sincere in the one case as in the other.
5. It is a great feast in a NOBLE MANSION, or rather in the Sovereign's palace! And in this palace, a physician is provided to examine and heal every guest. A cleansing bath is prepared to wash away every stain, and make every guest perfectly clean. A change of clothing is ready, to clothe every one in a wedding garment. A group of servants is employed to wait upon, and minister to the comfort of every one who accepts the invitation.
Or, without a figure:
here is Jesus, who saves to the uttermost, the great physician of souls;
here is His precious blood, which cleanses from all sin;
here is His magnificent robe of righteousness, which justifies and clothes the sinner;
and here are the angels of God, to minister to the heirs of salvation.
How complete, how glorious the provision made!
All that can be needed,
all that can be desired,
all that can be enjoyed!
Bless the Lord, O my soul! Mark now,
Who are to be invited to partake
of such privileges, to enjoy such blessings?
"Bring in the poor." The poor are generally the last cared for by man — but they are the first thought of by God. To the poor, the gospel was preached by Jesus, and the common people heard him gladly. God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith, and constituted them heirs of the kingdom. The poor who have nothing excellent in them, or valuable about them; but who are wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked — are to be especially invited to the great feast of the great God.
"Bring in the maimed," the debilitated, the enfeebled, who having lost their limbs cannot labor to procure; and having lost them through sin, can lay no claim. Lost sinners are not invited to work — but to receive: not to labor — but to feast.
"Bring in the halt," the undecided, the wavering. Those who have no fixed principle, no settled habits, upon whom no one can count, of whom no one can make sure. Bring them in, though lame; carry them, if they cannot walk.
"Bring in the blind," those who are without knowledge or discernment. Ask them to come, commend to them the provisions, and lend them your hand. Lead them in, and assure them of a welcome.
Pick up the common beggars — the vile, the unworthy. None
can be too bad. None can have sunk too low. Grace can make
them what the founder of the feast wishes them to be. All are to be invited
— but as if any are neglected, the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind
— are sure to be, therefore we are especially commanded to bring them in.
The Command. "GO out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town — and bring in the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind." This command is for all the servants, for though one is spoken to, that one being the steward of the household — all are intended. He was to GO; but he was to send the others too. One could not do the work — but many may.
Go out quickly. Lose no time. Don't stand thinking about it. Don't wait for a convenient season. Don't consult flesh and blood. Go, and go at once. The king's business requires haste. Go out quickly. Go from street to street, from lane to lane, from alley to alley.
"Bring in." Don't merely ask, or invite; but urge, entreat, beseech, argue, be importunate. Persevere until you attain their consent, compel them to come in. Take no denial. Accept of no excuse.
Bring them in. Bring them to the house. Bring them to the feast. Bring them to the throne. Make no exceptions — but as many as you find, all classes, all characters, all ages, of all countries, all colors, of all languages; as many as you find — invite to the marriage feast. Go, and go quickly. Go on purpose, and make it your one business to bring in guests.
Brethren, is the feast now ready? Is the great feast prepared? Is the house filled with guests? The feast is ready. The preparation is complete. The lamb has been slain. The blood has been shed. The atonement has been made. The perfect righteousness is finished. The table is furnished. God is ready to receive and pardon. Jesus is ready to receive and save. The Spirit is ready to sanctify and comfort. All is ready — but yet there is room!
Has the command been obeyed? Have the Lord's people, his servants, been in the habit of going out, to bring sinners to the Savior? To invite the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind — to the gospel feast? Has no street in the town been missed? Has no lane in the locality been passed by? Has no person been omitted? Has there been a direct effort made by some of the Lord's people, to bring each soul to Christ?
There has not! The command has been overlooked! Places of worship have been erected. Ministers have been appointed. In many places all who venture to come to the church, have been welcomed. But the going after the lost sheep — the going out on purpose to bring in, has been omitted! Are we then guiltless, if they perish? If the feast is made for lost sinners, ought we not to inform them of it? If we were commanded to go out, and bring them in — ought we not to have done it? Have they been warned to flee from the coming wrath, and have been pressed to come to the Savior — that they might have life? Are we prepared to obey now?
Once they die, they are lost forever. If they were lost directly or indirectly by our fault — we cannot now remedy it. But the living, the living! There are thousands in the streets, and lanes of the city, to whom no Savior is presented, to whom no invitation is given, for whose salvation, no direct effort is made. Should it be so?
What, have we no pity for souls, immortal souls, immortal souls perishing for lack of knowledge! Have we no reverence for our Master's authority, or regard for our Master's commands? Has he not bidden US to go? Is he not even now saying, "Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind."
Brethren, sisters, shall we go? If we do
not, what reason can we give — what excuse can we make? With the feast
prepared, with the command in our hands — shall sinners perish with
hunger? Shall they? Shall they?
You wretched, hungry, starving poor,
Behold a royal feast!
Where Mercy spreads her bounteous store,
For every humble guest.
See Jesus stands with open arms;
He calls, he bids you come:
Guilt holds you back, and fear alarms;
But see, there yet is room!
Room in the Savior's bleeding heart,
There love and pity meet;
Nor will he bid the soul depart
Who trembles at his feet!