The Daily Offices

The Daily Offices from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, (Canada 1962), including daily Bible readings and occasional sermons from the Cathedral of the Annunication of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa

Monday, June 26, 2006


And it came to pass, as He went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath day… Luke 14:1.

St. Luke tells us that Jesus was dining as a guest of a Pharisee. Our Lord was not exactly among friends and we may wonder why He accepted such an invitation.

And one of them that sat at meat with Him said unto Him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Luke 14:15.

So began our Gospel reading for today in Luke 14:15 and in that passage, as Jesus responds to this statement, we find the reason why He was eating there.

Jesus Christ has something to say to every single human being who has drawn breath, does draw breath and will draw breath. His earthly ministry excludes none; His sacrifice upon the Cross excludes none; His invitation to the heavenly banquet excludes none.

But Jesus knows that there are many who will exclude themselves. His whole discourse about the man who made the great supper and invited many refers to the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus does not mention that as such because He knows there are those present who rejected the Kingdom and simply did not believe in it. Such people make of their lives a tragedy and a travesty, but if you can catch them unawares, sometimes a seed can be planted.

Outside the walls of this church walk many souls whose lives are similarly tragedies and travesties. And so it is in every city, town and village across the planet. Everywhere there are people willfully distancing themselves from God.

But the fact of the Cross remains. The Redeeming Grace of Jesus remains. The invitation to join that great supper remains. Those are God’s prerogatives and they are as changeless as God is changeless.

We may be sure that, unlike Jesus at that Sabbath day meal, if we accept His invitation we will find ourselves among friends. Some of them may surprise us, but friends they will be. All who accept become united in the Body of Christ, first in this life and then in the next. In the Body of Christ, there are no enemies.

God is the maker of this supper and Jesus makes it clear that He wants all of us to be there. Jesus describes it as a great supper and it is great in every sense.

Great in the huge numbers who have accepted and will accept, so many that no man can number them. But a distressingly large number will not be there because they refuse to accept the Father’s command to believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23). Believing in Jesus is accepting His invitation and obedience to His commandments is the method by which we present ourselves with confident hope at the door of the banquet hall.

Great also is the supper in the blessings it brings. No man can conceive of such a feast and that is sufficient reason to turn ourselves over to God, humbly asking Him to lead us to our place at the table.

And great is the duration of this feast, for it will last forever. An eternity in the nearer presence of Jesus Christ. What could be more blessed than that?

Great, then, is the promise of this supper and if the promise is great, we can be sure that the consequences of not accepting will be equally great. We may think of it and gain some understanding by comparing life and nothingness. An enormous rift separates the two, like a huge, irreparable tear in a vast tapestry.

On the one side is vitality and vigour, our consciousness of health and creativity; on the other side is dreary void.

On the one side is our sense of belonging, of communion with family, friends and, ultimately, with our Creator; on the other side is dreary void.

On the one side is a vibrant sense of the countless blessings with which the earth is filled, the lively notes of birdsong, the renewing splendour of the sunrise, the sweet scent of blossoms on spring time breezes; on the other is still dreary void.

Life, and all those myriad blessings which make up its fullness are gifts from God. A Christian, a truly converted Christian, knows that, especially one who has dwelt for a time in that dreary void.

And there is one mighty difference between the irreparable tear in the tapestry and the rift separating life from nothingness.

There is a bridge which spans that rift – a bridge in the form of a cross. The bridge is always there and the invitation to pass over is never, ever, taken away. The promise of the great supper is always there.

God yearns for all His creatures to be at that banquet table. That is why He sent His Son among us, first to take upon Him the form of a servant. As St. Paul wrote to the Philippians, (Jesus) made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant. Phil.2:7.

His service is part and parcel of the invitation to the supper. His death makes the invitation possible. It is written in His blood.

This is indeed a terrible invitation. It should strike a note of fear in each of us, as Jesus makes clear in His parable. There are no excuses for declining this invitation. We cannot say to God, “I was about to come, but I died before I could make it.” Jesus did not look for ways to delay his death upon the Cross.

There are no reasons for so much as wanting to decline this invitation. We cannot say to God, I was thinking about it, but I died before I could make up my mind. Jesus did not hesitate to be a sacrifice for us.

As God, through Holy Scripture, has revealed something of Himself , so has He revealed the glorious promise of that great supper. This parable we read today, this particular revelation of the great supper, Jesus finishes with a note of ringing authority.

For I say unto you, That none of these men which were bidden shall taste of My supper.

Throughout the parable the master has addressed the servant in the singular. Now, as the Greek text makes clear, the word you is in the plural. He is addressing a much wider audience and in so doing, Jesus is transformed into the Giver of the feast.

In reality He is saying to us that, This is My supper, to which I not only invite you, but which I, as the Son, with the Father, have Myself prepared for you.

The third person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit, may see fit to remind us from time to time of the existence of this invitation, and of the obedience required in both accepting and benefiting from it.

Let us pray that God’s Grace will lead us to the door of the banquet hall, invitation in hand, washed in the Blood of the Lamb and suitably clothed to gain entrance and take our set at the table.

Peter Jardine+
Trinity II, 1006