Tuesday, April 20, 2010

“Inclusion in Community” Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending April 25, 2010

Purpose: To explore what is meant for God to invite all people to be a part of God's kingdom

Scripture Text: Luke 14:15-24
Luke 14:15-24 (NRSV)
(15) One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, ‘Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!’ (16)Then Jesus said to him, ‘Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. (17)At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, “Come; for everything is ready now.” (18)But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my apologies.” (19)Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my apologies.” (20)Another said, “I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.” (21)So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” (22)And the slave said, “Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” (23)Then the master said to the slave, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. (24)For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.”

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Last week we talked about the Book of Matthew and its primary audience being the Jews that did not accept Jesus as the Messiah. This week’s lesson comes from the Book of Luke, which is the first of two books written by Luke; the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. If the purpose of Matthew was to convince the Jews that Jesus was the promised Messiah, then what was the purpose and audience for Luke's Gospel? Luke was Physician by trade and called by Paul in Colossians 4:14 the “beloved physician.” Luke was not a Jew and so his Gospel is the only Gospel written by a Gentile, and his primary audience is the Greek and Gentile world. He may have been making a case that Christianity was not a Jewish cult, but rather a standalone religion based on compassion, fairness, and the humanity of Jesus. Luke appealed to the intellectual and cultural philosophy as well as the wisdom of reasoning that the Greeks and Romans understood. Luke's Gospel is considered the most beautifully written and most orderly of all the Gospels.

Luke seems to progress in the 14th Chapter from “inflexible people” “inflated people,” “invited people,” “indifferent people,” to “indulgent people” each group is portrayed by Jesus in a parable, and reveals Luke's understanding of what Jesus was teaching about our interactions with the world, if we were followers of Jesus Christ.

Our text deals with the indifferent people of the world, and how we are to respond to those that appear indifferent to the gospel. I think Jesus was well aware that His message would not be well received, and there would be excuse after excuse about why someone would shy away or even ignore or shun the good news that Jesus was teaching. It certainly applied to those religious leaders of Christ day as well as the intellectuals of today. The privileged and ignorant alike all have excuses for not coming to the great feast that has been prepared for those that accept the invitation given by Jesus. “Come unto me all that are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest.

Jesus seems to be saying if those that should respond don't respond then the invitation should be broadened to those that would understand and appreciate a relief from the burdens and trials of life; as a poor, or lame, or afflicted person they would be welcomed as His banquet. Your wealth or your health does not preclude you from enjoying the good things of the gospel of Jesus Christ. At Jesus' table and in His kingdom all are welcome. God's love extends to ALL, and none of us have an adequate excuse for not joining Christ in sharing His message and mission. Think of how anxious those that attended the feast would be for the next opportunity to set at His feet and how they would share their experience at His table with those that had not been invited.

Now, as Christians we have received the invitation, we have tasted the goodness, we should be willing make certain everyone has an opportunity to come and know Christ and sup with Him. What is your excuse? Who do you exclude from your banquet?

No comments: