(16) Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many; (17) And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. (18) And they 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: I pray thee have me excused. (19) And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. (20) And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. (21) So that servant came and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. (22) And the servant said, Lord, it is done, as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. (23) And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. (24) For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
Our Lord took occasion, from the observation of one that sat at the Pharisee's table with him, to deliver this precious discourse. It is much to the same purport as that sermon delivered, Matthew 22:2, &c. The prophet Isaiah was taught by the Holy Ghost to represent the Gospel under the figure of a royal feast, Isaiah 25:6. The only difference in the representation is, that in one place it is called a dinner, and here the Lord calls it a supper. Perhaps, the former was in allusion to the early manifestations of grace; and the latter to intimate the final revelations in the person of Christ himself. Hebrews 1:1, and 9:26.
By the certain man, no doubt the Lord Jesus meant God the Father; for Christ is God's salvation to the ends of the earth, Isaiah 49:6. And by the servant sent to call them that were bidden, must mean Christ; for so God speaks of him, Isaiah 42:1, &c. And in the great work of redemption, for the recovery of his Church from the ruin into which, by her Adam-nature, she was fallen, Christ came as Jehovah's servant, Philippians 2:6,7. This being bidden can mean nothing more than the outward ministry of God's word to the Jewish nation. With them were committed the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises. But all are not Israel which are of Israel, Romans 9:4,6. For when Christ came to his own; that is, his own nation, his own received him not. John 1:11. So that the special distinguishing grace, which distinguished the people, differed widely from this outward call; that being accompanied with an inward work upon the heart, inclining them to come. Psalm 110.
The different excuses form a most apt representation of the several causes, which prevent, according to the view of natural causes, all the unawakened and unregenerated world from coming to Christ. The piece of ground, and the yoke of oxen, and the married state, are strikingly expressive of the three great causes John describes: namely, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. 1 John 2:16. Under one or other of these all of the unrenewed of mankind may be found. And what an awful state the whole is!
The dismission of the servant to the highways, and lanes, and streets of the city, to call in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind, is, in the language of the Gospel, to shew that God hath given the heathen to Christ for an inheritance, and the uttermost part of the earth for his possession, Psalm 2:8. And the characters here described are to be considered spiritually. It is the poor in spirit, it is the maimed by sin, it is the halt in the faculties of soul, and the blind, who by nature are strangers to Christ, and all whose minds, by the gracious call of God, are brought into a sense of their lost and utterly helpless state in themselves, which are here set forth. And what a beautiful view doth the representation afford of the infinite fullness of God's provision, that when multitudes are brought, and are feasted with grace and salvation, the Lord sends again to use an holy violence, and to compel every poor, needy, self-condemned, and sensible sinner to come, that Christ's house may be filled.
Reader! pause over this delightful view! Behold and observe what the language of grace saith, Yet there is room. Yes, there is room as there was then, so now, in the fullness of covenant settlements formed among the whole persons of the Godhead before the world was made. The thousands that were then unborn when Jesus spake this parable, and which have since been born in nature, and new born in grace, have found the blessed truth to their soul's everlasting joy: and still room for the thousands yet to be born until the consummation of all things, equally interested in the covenant of promise. Room in the everlasting love of all the persons in the Godhead, chosen by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ, and called by the gracious and regenerating mercy of God the Holy Ghost. And as there hath always been, and is, and always will be, room for all whom the Father hath given to the Son, both Jew and Gentile, for all the purposes of manifesting grace here; so is there, and everlastingly must be, room in the upper and brighter world of glory hereafter, for all the blessings prepared for the Church of God, in that eternal kingdom of God and the Lamb. John 14:2,3.
There is no difficulty of apprehension, concerning those who were first bidden to the feast, but by their contempt of it for ever rejected, if we keep in view that the chief scope from the parable, is to shew the difference of outward means to inward grace. The Gospel hath been, and from the very necessity of the case must be, openly published and proclaimed, like the public bell, which causeth to assemble, in the hearing of all. But herein is the wisdom and equity of God manifested. The enemies of God and his Christ reject the counsel of God against their own souls. Christ is the one ordinance of heaven, and the only one for the recovery of our Adam-nature from the ruins of the fall. If this be slighted and despised, there is no other, Acts 4:12. The Scribes and Pharisees fell under this condemnation; and those Scriptures in them were fulfilled. Many are called, but few chosen. Go to this people, and say, Hear ye indeed, but understand not: and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Isaiah 6:9. Matthew 13:14, &c. And thus the sovereignty of Jehovah is manifested, and their rejection of his appointed means becomes an everlasting testimony to his justice.