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THE GREAT SUPPER.
Luke xiv. 15 to 24.
"And 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.
Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that 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.
And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
So that servant came, and showed 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.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
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.
For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."
1. On what occasion was the parable of the great Supper delivered?
One of the guests, with whom Christ was dining, said, "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God," referring to the kingdom of the Messiah; and Christ delivered this parable, to reprove the mistaken and worldly notions which the Jews indulged on this subject.
2. What does the "great supper" mean?
The gospel feast which Christ has graciously provided.
3. How did those who were first invited act?
They all, with one consent, began to make excuse.
4. What was the evil of their conduct?
Their excuses showed that they despised Him who invited them, and all his preparations; and that they were only anxious about the concerns of this world.
5. Were not their employments innocent?
Yes, in themselves, but not at this time and on this occasion; the abuse of things lawful, and excessive worldly engagements, often harden the heart against the invitations of the gospel.
6. What does the invitation of the poor and diseased to the feast intimate?
That when the Jews and the rich of this world had rejected the gospel, that the despised Gentiles, and the humble poor of this world, would embrace it.
7. When the guests from the city had entered in, what did the servant tell his Master?
Yet there is room. The mercy of God is greater than our necessities, his compassion is never hausted.
8. What did the Lord then direct his servant to do?
To go beyond the city, even into the highways and hedges, to press the poor and wretched most earnestly to come in.*
9. What do these representations teach?
The bounty and condescension of our gracious Lord; and his willingness, not only to receive all who come unto him, but also earnestly to invite poor sinners to receive his mercy.
*It was a custom among the Jews, when a rich man made a feast, to go out and invite in all destitute travellers.
10. How was the rejection of those who were first invited afterwards fulfilled?
By the casting off of the proud and worldly Jews, and the bringing in of the Gentiles into the church of Christ, from their state of idolatry, ignorance, and sin.
11. When we hear the invitations of the gospel, how should we act?
We should adore the grace of Christ, and at once accept his offers with thankfulness and joy.
THE LOST SHEEP.
Luke xv. 1 to 7.*
"Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners, for to hear him.
And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven
*See also Mat. xviii. 11 to 13.
over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance."
1. Who were the persons that drew near to Christ, to hear him?
Publicans (or tax-gatherers) and sinners.
2. Why did the Pharisees and Scribes murmur at Christ? Because he freely received sinners.
3. What was Christ's object in delivering the parable of the lost sheep?
To censure the proud Scribes and Pharisees, and to encourage the sinners who came to Him.
4. Whom does the lost sheep resemble ?
A sinner, who strays from God-who is heedless of his danger-unable to protect himself and exposed to numerous enemies and evils.
5. Who is the Shepherd?
The Lord Jesus Christ, who pities wandering sinners, who finds them out, and brings them to his fold, rejoicing.
6. What lessons should we learn from the parable of the lost sheep?
To rejoice in the tender compassion of Christ to sinners-to imitate his gracious conduct-and to remember that while all we, like sheep, have gone astray, so we may all return to the Shepherd and Bishop of souls, assured of his gracious welcome, and of the joy with which the hosts of heaven contemplate every returning penitent.