Luke 14: 16-18, "A certain man made a great supper and bade many; and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that they were bidden, 'Come, for all things are now ready.' 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....'"
Verse 15, Jesus was saying these things as He ate supper. And a man who ate with him said, "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God." And so, Jesus was able to teach many things. We can also say that blessed is he who eats bread and drinks wine in the Kingdom. Jesus began to visit with him about a very special supper where everyone was invited. Some began to make excuses.
Verses 19-20, "And another said, 'I have bought 5 yoke of oxen, and I must go to prove them. I pray thee have me excused.' And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.'" The listeners that evening were people who could have made some excuse not to be there. I like to think of some in the Old Testament who sacrificed their excuse. We can remember them and be encouraged.
In Genesis, we read about Abraham having trouble with land. The man Jesus spoke of said, "I have bought a piece of land." It was his excuse. Abraham had a lot of land and cattle. He was rich but he was diligent and honest in business. He was so sensitive he wanted to deal with the problem early. Abraham controlled his business; he did not let his business control him. His nephew Lot was his brother in the Lord. Abraham felt it was more important to have peace than to have more land. He did not fight for land. He never used his land or his investments as an excuse. He sacrificed his excuse. He let Lot choose what he wanted first. Lot made the unwise choice. Abraham did not say, "Ha, ha, serves you right!" No, "I must go and help him."
Genesis 14:18, “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was the priest of the most high God.” Because Abraham was faithful in the daily things, he found himself in fellowship with others, with Melchizedek who offered him bread and wine in the Kingdom. It does not say what day it was. Every day, we should share with our wife or husband or companion bread from heaven and the wine of forgiveness. We also want to receive the wine of forgiveness that is offered. This is not just a ritual once a week. This shows how we need it every day. Do you say you were married or you ARE married? Do we say we were baptized or we ARE baptized? Every day we share bread and share and receive the wine of forgiveness even with those who have not yet received it.
I want to share a story from Mexico. There was a terrible rainstorm and the power was off for two days. On the Sunday morning, we were staying in the meeting home and were told that the wine had turned to vinegar in the refrigerator. The fridge had been off for two days. The folks of the home asked us what to do. We told them that we never partake of the bread without wine. Nor do we partake of the cup without the bread. Two eight year-old nephews came. There was another meeting 4 kilometers away. We asked these boys to go there and get some wine. We knew that they could take a short cut across the river and through the woods. When it was time for the meeting to start, the boys had not returned. The elder had the cup and the plate in the kitchen, not in the meeting room. When we finished singing and started to pray, there was no bread or wine in the room. When we looked up after prayer, there were the bread and wine in the middle of the room. The two boys were seated in their places. I could see they were muddy up to their shoulders. It turned out the river was flooded and the bridge was gone. Those boys had risked their lives to get the wine. They told us after that they had run way up river so they could swim across and get out at the right place. It was a very nice meeting. We had the bread and the wine. After the meeting finished, one very zealous lady asked the boys why they were late and why they did not get cleaned up first. Many times, we judge ignorantly. We take the bread and the wine without knowing what our brothers and sisters have been through. We come to the meeting 15 minutes early and see the emblems. Do we look at our brothers and sisters through the blood of Christ? We will never know how many people we have offended but every time they pass the cup we are being offered forgiveness again. We begin every new week sharing bread. We offer a little. We receive so much. The Spirit of Christ is bread. One time, a woman asked if she could go to a different meeting. When we asked why; she told us the Spirit of Christ was not in her meeting. We told her that if she brought the Spirit of Christ to the meeting, it would be there.
Luke 14:19, “Another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them. I pray thee have me excused.'” His oxen were his excuse.
I Kings 19:19-21, "So he departed thence and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with 12 yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth; and Elijah passed by him and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, 'Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee.' And he said unto him, 'Go back again, for what have I done to thee?' And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him." Elisha sacrificed his excuse. He had a future in farming. He likely had his life planned out, but when he saw Elijah and greeted him and Elijah took his mantle off and threw it over his shoulders, he felt God's call. Elijah said, "What have I done to thee?" He knew that it is of God, not of men. Some think that workers have given up so much: family, home, bank account....all of you will give up exactly the same one day. The workers just give them up earlier. Our sacrifice is so little. The sacrifice of Christ is so much. No sacrifice is anything in comparison. It enables us to eat the bread of the kingdom and drink the wine of forgiveness. When Elisha sacrificed his excuse, many people were fed, as we read in the 21st verse.
The third excuse is about getting married. Read Judges 19:19 before getting married. It is about a young couple with marital problems. She went home for 4 months. He went to help fix the problem. He spoke friendly. Her father was overjoyed and his hired man was there, too. The father kept them from leaving by celebrating. On the fatal day, they left too late in the day. They had bread and wine and straw for the donkey and could have camped out in an open field when nightfall came. However, they went on to what they thought was a friendly town and a man invited them to stay the night in his home. Often we don't understand what we are invited to and it can lead to tragedy. Part of what they had with them was bread and wine but they didn't use it. They thought, "We won't partake tonight." It was a missed opportunity. Anytime we miss out on the opportunity of the bread and wine, it can lead to heartache and tragedy. We don't need more than Christ but rather more of Christ. He is the bread of life that feeds our soul. We want to share that bread with the one beside us. "I want to be more what I should be by the grace of God." They had it but they did not partake of it. Luke 14:20, "And another said, 'I have married a wife and therefore I cannot come.'"
And here is an Old Testament story of a wife who sacrificed....I Samuel 25:18, "Then Abigail made haste and took 200 loaves of bread and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses, And she said unto her servants, 'Go on before me; behold, I come after you.' But she told not her husband Nabal."
It says that David and his men were a wall of protection to Nabal's sheep in the wilderness. The men asked for food and Nabal refused. David and his men were coming to destroy Nabal and his men when Abigail met them with great provision. The first two on the list are bread and wine. Instead of a terrible battle, Abigail made peace by offering bread and wine. And then she offered lamb and raisins. She had been picking grapes before, and now she had them when she needed them. She could have made wine of the fruit when it was needed. She went to meet David with bread and wine and other food. She saw 400 men coming with swords drawn; she kneeled on the ground. David was going to Nabal's house to fight and seeing Abigail kneeling made him pull the reins. She said she was sorry; that it was all her fault. It is never wrong to take all the blame. She offered food instead of arguing. It is interesting that when we eat food we stop talking. Did you ever notice how quiet it is while we eat? All conversation stops. The best way to bring peace is to offer bread. David realized, "I am wrong, I came to fight; your humility shames me, we are not worthy." She answered, "No, this is for all of you. And here are lambs cooked, enough for all 600 of your men." David was turned around by her provision. When she finally told Nabal, he had a heart attack or a stroke and went into a coma for 10 days. Abigail became a widow. Widows can marry again. We don't know how much time passed but when David wanted a wife, he thought of Abigail who was willing to become a servant. Many women marry without understanding that. And young men, too. They both need the bread of love and the wine of forgiveness.
Exodus 24:7, "And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people. And they said, 'All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.'" Moses spoke to the people. He gave them bread. When I receive bread, it means to me that I will be obedient to all God has spoken to me.
Verse 8, "And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, 'Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord made with you concerning all these words.'" These two verses are like bread and wine to me. God's word is bread. Wine means the forgiveness of God. May we understand more and more all that it means.