Scripture: Luke 14:16-23
This last week all of us were moved by the tragedy of the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. As we know, three people were killed and many were injured. Several required amputations. Then many of us watched in the last couple of days as the authorities tracked down the two men responsible for the bombing. On Friday night the second of the brothers was apprehended. The City of Boston and the entire nation rejoiced. There are many lessons to be learned from this latest act of terrorism, but one of the most inspiring is the way unlikely heroes rose to the occasion immediately after the bombs exploded. Carlos Arredondo is one. He has been nicknamed “the cowboy hero.” He was standing at the finish line waiting for runners who were competing in behalf of fallen soldiers – his son was one of the runners. When the blasts occurred, he didn’t run from the crowds, but ran into the crowds to help injured spectators, including one man who legs had been blown off. Another is Joe Andruzzi, a retired NFL player who picked up an injured woman and carried her to safety. A third is Dr. Chris Rupe, a Kansas City surgeon who had crossed the finish line 30 seconds before the explosions.Despite having just run a marathon and just avoiding injury himself, he went into a medical tent and worked for an hour tending to victims of shrapnel wounds – the personnel there were only used to treating problems such as dehydration and foot cramps. These three men, and others like them, all had one thing in common – they were passionate about helping people in need. Their focus was not on their own comfort or their own safety, but on the urgent needs that were present all around them. This morning’s message is entitled “The Heartbeat of Heaven.” The focus of our Lord Jesus, his passion, his heartbeat, is to address the urgent spiritual needs present in the lost people all around us. Unless they come to Jesus, and enjoy the banquet of new life God has prepared in Him, they will die eternally separated from Him. Luke 19:10 tells us, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” The heartbeat of heaven, the driving passion of God, is to rescue those who are in urgent spiritual need. The closer we get to Jesus, the more like Him we become, the more that passion drives us in all we do and say. So this morning we’ll look at the heartbeat of heaven as it is described in this passage.
First of all, the heartbeat of heaven is the provision of the Gospel. Everything has been made ready – Christ has died on the cross for our sins, He has made salvation possible, His blood has been shed, the payment for sin has been given. He has been raised to life by God the Father, never to die again. The banquet table of new life has been set. Verses 16-17 begin our passage by saying, “…he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ As good as delicious food is, God’s banquet is even better. This feast is a meal that nourishes the deepest needs of our soul. Without this food people will starve – there is no other way to survive. In ancient times when a banquet was given there were two invitations. The first was for the purpose of reservations, the second was to announce the feast was ready. So one invitation has been extended already, now the host of the banquet has his servant to send the second. As followers of Jesus today, it is our responsibility to share with others that God’s banquet in Jesus is ready. It is not our place just to seek our safety, it is not our place just to seek our comfort, our calling, our task, is to help others who are in great need. Unlike the people who were injured after the Boston bombings, the people to whom we are sent often don’t realize the urgency of their situation – they don’t grasp the severity of their need. So they hesitate and are reluctant when we extend God’s invitation to them. Verses 18-20 read, “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’” The point here is not how valid the excuses may be. The point is that what God has provided takes priority over everything else. Our need for the Gospel is literally a matter of life and death. Jesus says in John 8:24, “…unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” As messengers of God to a lost and dying world, we must persevere with others and not be discouraged by their excuses. We continue to pray, we continue to care, and we continue to speak of the saving power of Jesus Christ. The heartbeat of heaven is the provision of the Gospel – God has made ready a feast is the only source of life to a dying world.
Then we also see in this passage that the heartbeat of heaven is the proclamation of the Gospel. Verse 21 of our passage says, “So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’” Why would the master be angry? Because he has gone to great effort to make this banquet possible. The life of his only Son has been sacrificed, His precious blood has been spilled, no expense has been spared. Because of the urgency and importance of this banquet, no excuse is acceptable. So for us as servants of God, when we meet with the excuses and the reluctance, we do not stop there. Our master has told us to “go out quickly.” These words are vital – these words are words of passion.
“Go” – don’t stay, don’t sit still, be on the move, take the initiative. I read a story of a little boy who had a toy car that would work. He was sitting in the floor crying, and his Dad said, “what’s wrong with your car son?” He said, “Daddy, the “go” is broken! If our “go” is broken, we need to submit our lives to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to fix it. Jesus’ desire is to make us fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium. We are to go where the fish are, where the hurting people are found. This word “go” is not a suggestion, it is not a recommendation, it is not a request. This “go” is a command – “GO!”
“Out” – get beyond the four walls. We must not be content to sit here within our building and expect people to come to us. We are to go to them. We go to the workplaces, to the schools, to the neighborhoods to build relationships that share Jesus with the people where they are.
“Quickly” – It is an urgent matter for us, a matter of life and death. When the heroes of Boston were aware of the need, they didn’t think, “Well, I’ll get to the task when it is convenient for me to do so.” They moved, they took action, it was a top priority for them. People all around us are dying, they are entering eternity without Christ every day. This last week 3 people were killed in the Boston explosion. 14 people at last count were killed in the Texas explosion. That was just this last week, for the stories that are in the headlines. Many others have stepped into eternity. How many of them heard the Gospel of Jesus before their lives ended? How many of them had an opportunity to give their hearts to Christ? Their eternal souls hang in the balance. For us as individuals and for us a church, sharing the Gospel is a top priority.
This last week there was another death – George Beverly Shea, at 104 years old, stepped into eternity. He had a powerful, passionate relationship with Jesus – he is now in the presence of Christ. That relationship compelled him to serve as a part of the Billy Graham evangelistic team for decades – he was the man who would usually sing just before Billy Graham would stand to preach the Gospel to stadiums full of lost people. He leaves a legacy for us of sharing the Gospel passionately. Jesus says in Luke 10:2, “And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” We are pray for workers to share the Gospel, and the prayer begins with our own obedience to the call. Could you explain to someone today how to become a Christian if you were asked? “Well, I’d just refer them to the preacher.” The workers are few, and there are few preachers today in comparison to the vast numbers of lost people. You need to know how to explain the Gospel. Share how Jesus has changed your own life. Use a Gospel tract to help you. Memorize a plan of salvation – John 3:16 is a start. “Well, I simply don’t have adequate training.” Did the cowboy hero at Boston have adequate training to help victims who had lost their limbs? Did the former NFL player have certification to transport an injured person? Did the surgeon who had just finished running a marathon have the proper physical rest and sufficient instruments to perform such delicate medical procedures? The point is that we are in a crisis, sharing the Gospel is urgent, life and death business. Learn what you can now, then use whatever you have when the situation arises. God will do the rest. We just plant the seed, God makes it grow. God can use the feeblest of our efforts to accomplish great things for His Kingdom. The heartbeat of heaven is the proclamation of the Gospel.
Then, the heartbeat of heaven is the priority of the Gospel. Our passage continues, “And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” Seeing people come to Jesus through our lives and through our words is not one of many activities to which God calls us. It is the main activity to which he calls us. Again, Jesus says in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Reconciling people to God was the life purpose of Jesus. It is our life purpose as well, as individuals, as a church. The word “compel” here doesn’t mean we coerce people to come to Jesus or we somehow seek to manipulate them. It means we persevere, we are persistent, we are passionate about them knowing Jesus. We pray for them to know Jesus. We pray that God will bring them to Jesus through our lives. We share the love of Jesus in hopes that God will speak to them through us. We share the message of Jesus as God opens the doors for us to do so. The more we pray for God to open the doors, the more we see the opportunities. Often we have opportunities to share Gospel, but we aren’t looking for them so we don’t even notice them when they come our way. Praying for them opens our eyes to what God is doing. The heartbeat of heaven is the priority of the Gospel.
This morning, it is clear from our passage that the Gospel is an urgent matter to God, He is incredibly passionate about it. Is it a priority to you? Do you share His passion for people being present at the spiritual banquet He has prepared? If you haven’t yet responded to God’s invitation to this great feast, you can do so this morning. You may never have another opportunity – if there is any lesson that this last week teaches us, it is that human life is very fragile and short. If you have shared in this feast, are you now telling others? Are you joining with a local church so you can be a part of a bigger effort of sharing with the community? The choice is yours – in this time of great spiritual peril, will you act, or will you delay?