Imagine a lush banquet with copious quantities of the best of food and drink. That’s how God symbolically described the Kingdom He would establish. Of course His people yearned for that Kingdom to arrive, especially since He also promised to wipe away tears and banish death forever. If you are not familiar with that prophecy, I’ll print it below. But in Jesus’ day, they knew it and yearned for it to be fulfilled.
So, when someone mentioned the Kingdom to Jesus, and He responded with a parable about a great banquet, the small hairs on the back of their necks stood to attention. Making it more electrifying was the “servant” in the parable, who comes to tell people the banquet is ready. One of Isaiah’s most common expressions for God’s Messiah was “the Servant.” (e.g. See Isaiah 42:1)
Here’s how He began the parable:
… “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 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.’ 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.’ (Luke 14:16b-18)
Those who had “ears to hear” sensed that Jesus was telling them He was the Messiah-Servant, sent by God to announce the Kingdom, proclaiming “everything is now ready.” The tragedy was that most of those who had been waiting and yearning for that announcement then decided that the busyness of their regular lives was more pressing and important than the opportunity to join God in His Kingdom for eternal life.
Don’t compound the tragedy; Jesus still speaks those same words of invitation to each of us today. “Come, for everything is now ready.” What is your response? Are you wanting to be excused? Consider carefully.
Here’s Isaiah’s prophecy:
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever;and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 25:6-8)