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The Parable of the Great Dinner (Rabel)

(Back) Humility and Hospitality The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Next)

This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Winter semester 1976 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Part of Lecture 34 given on April 2, 1976

Luke 14:15-24, pp. 210-214 of transcript.

14:15And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. 14:16But he said unto him, A certain man made a great supper; and he bade many: 14:17and he sent forth his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 14:18And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a field, and I must needs go out and see it; I pray thee have me excused. 14:19And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused. 14:20And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 14:21And the servant came, and told 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 maimed and blind and lame.14:22And the servant said, Lord, what thou didst command is done, and yet there is room. 14:23And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and constrain them to come in, that my house may be filled. 14:24For I say unto you, that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Now He goes on and gives one of his most difficult parables. I have not really, yet, mastered this, but I will do the best I can. He says that when one of them heard these things, He said unto him, "Blessed is he who shall eat meat in the kingdom of God." He said unto him, “A certain man made a great supper, and he bade many; and he sent his servant at suppertime to say to them that were bidden, 'Come, for all things are now ready.' And they all alike, began to make excuses. The first said unto him, 'I have bought a field, and I must needs go out and see it. 'I pray thee have me excused.' Another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. I pray thee have me excused' The other said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore, I cannot come.' And the servant came and told his lord these things, and the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city and bring hither the poor, the maimed, the blind, and the lame.' And the servant said, 'Lord, what thou didst command is done and yet there is room.' And the lord said unto the servant, 'Go out unto the highways and hedges and constrain them to come in that my house may be filled, for I say unto you that none of these men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.'"

This parable is really a parable. It is almost a labyrinth. There are things in it that do not seem to hang true. For instance, if it were more virtuous to bring in the poor and the maimed and the blind and lame, then the question as to why the lord didn't invite them in the first place, comes up. Just prior to that, Jesus said that that is the thing to do, and here He has this lord doing this only as an alternative to being snubbed by his invited guests, those who were originally invited; but one of the things I think Jesus is calling attention to in the parable is this very common tendency in human nature to find justification to find convincing excuses to justify neglect of accepting opportunities for a blessing of unfoldment or a blessing of growth, a growth opportunity. This would be this invitation to the feast. In other words, you remember in one of our prior lessons we said that one of the meanings of the feast is to nourish one's self by taking advantage of what life is constantly offering, either through opportunities to perform something, to involve yourself in something, to learn something, or to receive an impression being made on you by life.

You see, there is always an opportunity for nourishment because the way you take an impression made on you by life will determine whether that impression will nourish you or poison you. Who has the choice? You do; not as to what the impression is, but how you will take it or not take it. Here we have a bunch of people who choose to not take it, to decline the invitation; but they are ready for it. That is why they are given it first. Listen: "Come, for all things are now ready." In other words, when there is the blessing of an opportunity or when there is an opportunity to be blessed, either through a learning experience, an involvement experience, or an impression to be made, those who are ready for it will get the opportunity first, those who were the bidden guests, those who were given first crack. But very often, the ones who are ready for it and who get the opportunity or the invitation first, begin to decline these opportunities or reject the invitation but never but never honestly. It is never a matter of, "I don't want to learn because I am too darn lazy." Or, "I don't want to take this opportunity because I am too busy serving my ego at the moment." Instead, the human nature makes excuses, justifies: "I’ve got too many classes that I'm taking now to learn in this one. I don't want to be involved, because involvement here might mean I would have to do some adjusting to other personalities, and my personality is supreme, of course" etc. The one that is used here is great: "I'm too busy being married!" Oh, I've heard that, folks, a dozen times. "I've got a husband who won't let me learn Truth or won't let me practice it the way I would if I were single...." “I'm too busy being married to learn anything." I think Jesus had a preview of things to come here. Anyway, the excuses may be quite impressive and quite logical-sounding, notice the ones used in the parable; but nevertheless, there are repercussions.

Q. They are all material things aren't they?

A. Well, the symbolism is material, but we do not take these pointblank literally.

Q. Well, but I mean, there are oxen and lambs...

A. Always, yes, our justification for the rejection of spiritual opportunities is a material excuse. "I'm too busy being married. I have the kids or this field or these oxen, something." And it sounds very legitimate, and sometimes it is disguised as a spiritual one. Someone I can recall right now always used this excuse for not doing the right thing: "My Lord tells me to..." and proceeds to do the most God-awful, stupid things you ever saw, like antagonize his board of directors. "My Lord told me that I've got to be me!" Brrrrck on that Lord you are conning yourself into thinking is guiding you to make an ass of yourself!

There are repercussions when we reject these invitations of the Lord to avoid the blessing we are now ready for. Of course the only thing that happens is that they are bypassed, they miss the boat. The opportunity goes from them and reaches others who may not be ready for it but are willing. They may not so much have earned the invitation but are quite willing to accept leftovers from invitations, just like that woman who wanted her daughter healed, and Jesus is in a sense saying, "You are not worthy of it directly as you are asking. It is not fit to take the children's bread and..." And what did she say? "Even the dogs will eat the leftovers, the crumbs." And she gets what she wants, because of that attitude.

Many times there are people who have not technically earned the right to a certain blessing or an opportunity, but they are perfectly willing to have it, even if it comes from somebody else's leftovers or pile of rejects, even invitations. Haven't we all kind of been in a situation like this or we have known of it? We get an invitation to an actual party or dinner or a wedding, and we are happy and we enjoy ourselves. We are blessed by it, but later on we find out is the only reason we are invited is because those who were on the first invitation list, some of them declined, and there were leftover invitations. Now, how should we feel about that, as though we were second choice, and then ruin everything? Or should we say, “Even second choice, crumbs that have fallen from the Master's table, brought me a blessing." Who cares? First, second, third or last, who cares? As long as God's in His heaven, all is right with my world.

The original chosen guests are bypassed and these opportunities or the essences of these blessings may go, then, over to others who may not seem as worthy but who are more willing to accept, because in the divine economy there can be no such thing as waste. If someone does not get it someone else is going to. Nothing is to be wasted. Nothing is to go down the drain, except a rejected opportunity, but even that does not go down the drain, folks. That goes to another recipient, so there is no waste here. Now, be careful. I am sensing something. Some of you are getting your righteous indignation stirred up. "Oh, but somebody who has not earned something by right of consciousness ain’t got no right to get it!” Don’t pull that on me. Don’t start pulling karma in here. You get what you earned by right of consciousness. You get that – that’s for sure, but there is something called the grace of God which is not just mechanical law of cause and effect.

The grace of God says that you can even get blessings you have not earned if you are willing to take an unearned blessing which someone else has turned down. If you think that is not good enough for you, then you will be bypassed. Folks, let’s not get bypassed anymore! Let’s not join the ranks of those who have had the chance and let ego turn it down. They’ll not taste of this supper, but we don’t need to do that.

Q. That's kind of like getting money from home without having to ask for it.

A. That's right. We're coming to a parable here. There was a guy who did not go out and do all the right things to deserve his father's reward. Instead, he went out and did all the wrong things, and guess what he got when he returned to the father? The reward, because he was his father's son, and he knew it. And that's all he needed to know.

You don't have to go around being a good boy all the time, being a good girl all the time, doing only the right things all the time. All you have to do is whatever you feel you must do, but you remember whose child you are; because the Father is greater than I. And the Father holds no grudges, but the Father permits no wasting in His divine economy. And He does not run a merit-system school, that only those who have piled up certain merits get certain blessings. The blessings are omnipresent. It is our awareness of this truth, our willingness to receive whatever we can from the Father's will that qualifies us.

I have written, "There is no waste permitted in the divine economy.” This part of the law somewhat helps to give clues to the mystery of why some "unworthy people" sometimes seem to get spectacular blessings, while sometimes some good, virtuous, hard-working persons seem to get overlooked; but it is they who have done the overlooking, the bypassing, not the Father.

Sometimes we are functioning in the category of one character in the parables and sometimes we are another. You can see yourself in any of these categories we talk about.

Another way that we phrase the idea of nothing being wasted in Unity is "There is nothing lost in Spirit, including opportunity.” If you lose it, bypass it, someone else will find it, so it is not lost. You have just lost out, but nothing is lost.

If someone is being bypassed or overlooked when they are ready for a blessing, you can be sure it was they who did the overlooking and those who said, "I pass"; and it is very common.

The point Jesus is making might be summed up, at least on one of its levels, "Take time each day to be still and listen and try to sense any invitation that may be coming from Spirit; then look around and accept whatever opportunity to learn and grow and nourish your soul."

Remember I said this can often be in three different ways. It can be either through an opportunity to just give, to involve, and the third and most common, to just learn, to observe, maybe, and not involve, to observe and not give, except attention, and learn something. Determine what there is that can be learned. This is accepting the invitation. This is availing oneself of a spiritual sensitivity. If we do, we will never miss out on any blessing which could have been ours but is not. There will be no more, "It might have been." These are, of course, the main cause for rejects.

Then, right after that, He says the statement that countless persons wish he had not said. Maybe He did not say it, there is always that hope! Maybe someone snuck it in here, I don't know, but He says,

"If any man cometh unto Me and hateth not his own father and mother, wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple, for whosoever doth not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have wherewith to complete it, lest haply when he hath laid the foundation and is not able to finish, all that behold begin to mock him, saying 'This man began to build and was not able to finish' or what king as he goeth to encounter another king in war will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else while the other is yet a great way off, sendeth an embassy and ask of conditions of peace. So, therefore, whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be season? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill; men cast it out."

Thank God He adds this: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." And, friends, I have to confess, I don't have the ears. I reject this. It does not bother me to say Jesus has given me an option here. Now, if He has given us an option, what does this imply? If He was not giving us an option, it would mean that we have not choice about this, this is the Truth. All right. He gives an option, if you can see it. He says, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” That automatically also says, if you don't have ears to hear, then don't listen; that is the other side of the same coin. Now, to me this says that if you are able to comprehend this and accept it, go ahead and do so; but if you are not able to comprehend and accept this, let it go. I am saying, as your teacher, I choose the option to let it go. I do not want it. I don't comprehend it. I do not want it explained to me. I do not it. Jesus said I have that option. Thank you, Jesus.

I am not going to read the parable of the prodigal son, because you all know it; however, right before He gives that prodigal son parable, He gives two others, which are really great.

In the parable of the lost sheep, He says there are a hundred sheep and one is lost, and there are ninety and nine that are okay. The shepherd goes and finds the one that is lost, and there is great rejoicing over that one, rather than over the ninety and nine, etc. Then He goes on about the lost coin. A woman has ten pieces of silver, she loses one piece, then she goes through all the necessary actions, and she finds it. Then everybody rejoices with her about that one found piece, rather than the other pieces that were never lost.

Again, there are many meanings in this, but the one that gives me the greatest pleasure and joy is these two parables reiterate something that I feel is very important for us to get into our conscious understanding. That is the supreme importance of the individual in God's sight, rather than the overblown, exaggerated importance we give to large numbers, that the individual is sacred, the one is the reason for concern, and what happens to one person gives cause for universal rejoicing, rather than only if it happens to large bunches, is it worth rejoicing about. If it happens to one, that is cause for universal rejoicing. If one person is healed, the whole universe rejoices, you see, because the number one is what we call the great incomprehensible number, except that it is not really a number. It is a symbol of cosmos, of reality; so it is one or individual which is supreme in the judgment of God, rather than numbers, quantities, etc. Of course there are other meanings in these parables. They are good and beautiful too.

Text of the original transcript of the 4th paragraph of p.210 through the third paragraph of p.214.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on 04-07-2014