Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 18: "Go into the Highways and Hedges"
Based on Luke 14:1, 12-24
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The Saviour was a guest at the feast of a Pharisee.
He accepted invitations from the rich as well as the
poor, and according to His custom He linked the scene
before Him with His lessons of truth. Among the Jews
the sacred feast was connected with all their seasons of
national and religious rejoicing. It was to them a type of
the blessings of eternal life. The great feast at which they
were to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, while
the Gentiles stood without, and looked on with longing eyes,
was a theme on which they delighted to dwell. The lesson
of warning and instruction which Christ desired to give,
He now illustrated by the parable of a great supper. The
blessings of God, both for the present and for the future
life, the Jews thought to shut up to themselves. They
denied God's mercy to the Gentiles. By the parable Christ
showed that they were themselves at that very time rejecting
the invitation of mercy, the call to God's kingdom. [p. 220] He showed that the invitation which they had slighted was
to be sent to those whom they despised, those from whom
they had drawn away their garments as if they were lepers
to be shunned.
In choosing the guests for his feast, the Pharisee had
consulted his own selfish interest. Christ said to him,
"When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy
friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich
neighbors, lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense
be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor,
the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed;
for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed
at the resurrection of the just."
Christ was here repeating the instruction He had given
to Israel through Moses. At their sacred feasts the Lord
had directed that "the stranger, and the fatherless, and the
widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall
eat, and be satisfied." Deut. 14:29. These gatherings were
to be as object lessons to Israel. Being thus taught the
joy of true hospitality, the people were throughout the year
to care for the bereaved and the poor. And these feasts [p. 221] had a wider lesson. The spiritual blessings given to Israel
were not for themselves alone. God had given the bread
of life to them, that they might break it to the world.
This work they had not fulfilled. Christ's words were
a rebuke to their selfishness. To the Pharisees His words
were distasteful. Hoping to turn the conversation into
another channel, one of them, with a sanctimonious air,
exclaimed, "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the
kingdom of God." This man spoke with great assurance, as if
he himself were certain of a place in the kingdom. His
attitude was similar to the attitude of those who rejoice
that they are saved by Christ, when they do not comply with
the conditions upon which salvation is promised. His
spirit was like that of Balaam when he prayed, "Let me
die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like
his." Num. 23:10. The Pharisee was not thinking of his
own fitness for heaven but of what he hoped to enjoy in
heaven. His remark was designed to turn away the minds
of the guests at the feast from the subject of their practical
duty. He thought to carry them past the present life to
the remote time of the resurrection of the just.
Christ read the heart of the pretender, and fastening
His eyes upon him He opened before the company the
character and value of their present privileges. He showed
them that they had a part to act at that very time, in
order to share in the blessedness of the future.
"A certain man," He said, "made a great supper, and
bade many." When the time of the feast arrived, the host
sent his servant to the expected guests with a second
message, "Come; for all things are now ready." But a
strange indifference was shown. "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; [p. 222] 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 cannot come."
None of the excuses were founded on a real necessity.
The man who "must needs go and see" his piece of ground,
had already purchased it. His haste to go and see it was
due to the fact that his interest was absorbed in his
purchase. The oxen, too, had been bought. The proving of
them was only to satisfy the interest of the buyer. The
third excuse had no more semblance of reason. The fact
that the intended guest had married a wife need not have
prevented his presence at the feast. His wife also would
have been made welcome. But he had his own plans for
enjoyment, and these seemed to him more desirable than
the feast he had promised to attend. He had learned to
find pleasure in other society than that of the host. He
did not ask to be excused, made not even a pretense of
courtesy in his refusal. The "I cannot" was only a veil
for the truth—"I do not care to come."
All the excuses betray a preoccupied mind. To these
intended guests other interests had become all-absorbing.
The invitation they had pledged themselves to accept was
put aside, and the generous friend was insulted by their
By the great supper, Christ represents the blessings
offered through the gospel. The provision is nothing less
than Christ Himself. He is the bread that comes down
from heaven; and from Him the streams of salvation flow.
The Lord's messengers had proclaimed to the Jews the
advent of the Saviour; they had pointed to Christ as "the
Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
John 1:29. In the feast He had provided, God offered to [p. 223] them the greatest gift that Heaven can bestow—a gift
that is beyond computation. The love of God had
furnished the costly banquet, and had provided inexhaustible
resources. "If any man eat of this bread," Christ said,
"he shall live for ever." John 6:51.
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