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The Invitation

Do you desire eternal life? Is there within your soul a hungering and a thirsting after such things that may satisfy your spirit and make you live forever? Then “Come, for now all things are ready” (Luke 14:17)—all, not some, but all. There is nothing that you need between here and heaven which is not provided in Jesus Christ, in his person and in his work. All things are ready: life for your death, forgiveness for your sin, cleansing for your filth, clothing for your nakedness, joy for your sorrow, strength for your weakness, indeed, more than anything you could ever want is stored up in the boundless nature and work of Christ. You must not say, “I cannot come because I do not have this, or do not have that.” Are you to prepare the feast? Are you to provide anything? Are you bringing even salt or water? You do not know your true condition, or you would not dream of such a thing. The great householder himself has provided the whole of the feast, you have nothing to do with the provision but to enjoy it. If you lack anything, come and take what you lack; the greater your need the greater is the reason why you should come where all things that your need can possibly want will be at once supplied. If you are so needy that you have nothing good at all about you, all things are ready. When God has provided all things, what more could you possibly provide? It would be a disgraceful insult if you thought of adding to his “all things”; it would be a presumptuous competing with the provisions of the Great King, and this he will not endure. All that you are lacking between the gates of hell, where you now lie, and the gates of heaven, to which grace will bring you if you believe—all is provided and prepared in Jesus Christ the Saviour.

And all things are ready. Dwell on that word. The oxen and the fatlings were killed; and what is more, they were prepared to be eaten, they were ready to be feasted on, they smoked on the board. It is something when the king gives orders for the slaughter of so many bullocks for the feast, but the feast is not ready then; and when the victims fall beneath the axe, and they are stripped and hung up ready for the fire, something has been done, but they are still not ready. It is only when the joints are served hot and steaming upon the table, and everything else that is wanted is brought out and laid in proper order for the banquet that all things are ready, and this is the case now. At this very moment you will find the feast is in the best possible condition; it was never better and never can be better than it is now. All things are ready, in the exact condition that you need them to be, in exactly the right condition that is best for your soul’s comfort and enjoyment. All things are ready; nothing needs to be further mellowed or sweetened, everything is as perfect as eternal love can make it.

But notice the word “now.” “All things are now ready”—just now, at this moment. At feasts, you know, the good housewife is often troubled if the guests come late. She would be sorry if they came half an hour too soon, but half an hour too late spoils everything, and she is in a great state of fret and worry when all things are ready yet her friends still delay. Leave food in the oven awhile, and it does not seem to be “now ready,” but more than ready, and even spoiled. So the great householdler lays stress upon this, all things are now ready, therefore come at once.

He does not say that if you delay for another seven years all things will then be ready: God grant that long before that space of time you may have got beyond the need to be persuaded to become a taster of the feast, but he says that everything is ready now, just now. Just now that your heart is so heavy and your mind is so careless, that your spirit is so wandering—all things are ready now.

If the reason why a sinner is to come is because all things are ready, then it is idle for him to say, “But I am not ready.” It is clear that all the readiness required on man’s part is a willingness to come and receive the blessing which God has provided. There is nothing else necessary; if men are willing to come, they may come, they will come. Where the Lord has been pleased to touch the will so that man has a desire towards Christ, where the heart really hungers and thirsts after righteousness, that is all the readiness which is wanted. All the fitness he requires is that first you feel your need of him (and that he gives you), and that secondly, in feeling your need of him you are willing to come to him. Willingness to come is everything. A readiness to believe in Jesus, a willingness to cast the soul on him, a preparedness to accept him just as he is, because you feel that he is just the Saviour that you need—that is all: there was no other readiness, there could have been none, in the case of those who were poor and blind, and lame and maimed, yet came to the feast. The text does not say, “You are ready, therefore come”; that is a legal way of putting the gospel; but it says, “All things are ready, the gospel is ready, therefore you are to come.” As for your readiness, all the readiness that is possibly wanted is a readiness which the Spirit gives us—namely, willingness to come to Jesus.

Now notice that the unreadiness of those who were asked arose out of their possessions and out of their abilities. One would not come because he had bought a piece of land. What a great heap Satan casts up between the soul and the Saviour! With worldly possessions and good deeds he builds an earthwork of huge dimensions between the sinner and his Lord. Some gentlemen have too many acres ever to come to Christ: they think too much of the world to think much of him. Many have too many fields of good works in which they are growing crops on which they pride themselves, and these cause them to feel that they are persons of great importance. Many a man cannot come to Christ for all things because he has so much already.

Others could not come because they had so much to do, and could do it well—one had bought five yoke of oxen and he was going to prove them. He was a strong man well able to plow; the reason why he did not come was because he had so much ability. Thousands are kept away from grace by what they have and by what they can do. Emptiness is more preparatory to a feast than fullness. How often does it happen that poverty and inability help to lead the soul to Christ. When a man thinks he is rich he will not come to the Saviour. When a man dreams that he is able at any time to repent and believe, and to do everything for himself that is wanted, he is not likely to come and by a simple faith repose in Christ. It is not what you have not, but what you have that keeps many of you from Christ. Sinful Self is a devil, but Righteous Self is seven devils. The man who feels himself guilty may for a while be kept away by his guilt, but the man who is self-righteous will never come; until the Lord has taken his pride away from him he will still refuse the feast of free grace. The possession of abilities and honours and riches keeps men from coming to the Redeemer.

But on the other hand, personal condition does not constitute an unfitness for coming to Christ, for the sad condition of those who became guests did not debar them from the supper. Some were poor, and doubtless wretched and ragged; they did not have a penny to bless themselves with, as we say. Their garments were tattered, perhaps worse, they were filthy; they were not fit to be near respectable people, they would certainly be no credit to my Lord’s table; but those who went to bring them in did not search their pockets, nor look at their coats, but they fetched them in. They were poor, but the messengers were told to bring in the poor, and therefore they brought them. Their poverty did not prevent their being ready; and Oh, poor soul, if you are poor literally, or poor spiritually, neither sort of poverty constitutes an unfitness for divine mercy. If you are brought to your last penny, or even if that penny is spent and you have pawned everything you have, yet are still up to your eyes in debt and think that there is nothing left for you but to be laid by the heels in prison forever, nevertheless you may come, poverty and all.

Another class of them were maimed, and so were not very attractive in appearance: an arm had been lopped off, or an eye had been gouged out. One had lost a nose, and another a leg. They were in all stages and shapes of dismemberment. Sometimes we turn our heads away, and feel that we would rather give anything than look upon beggars who show their wounds, and describe how they were maimed. But it did not matter how badly they were disfigured; they were brought in, and not one of them was repulsed because of the ugly cuts he had received. So, poor soul, however Satan may have torn and lopped you, and whatsoever condition he may have brought you to, so that you feel ashamed to live; nevertheless this does not make you unfit for coming, you may come to his table of grace just as you are. Moral disfigurements are soon rectified when Jesus takes the character in hand. Come to him, however sadly you are injured by sin.

There were others who were lame. They had lost a leg, or it was of no use to them, and they could not come except with the help of a crutch; but nevertheless that was no reason why they were not welcome. Ah, if you find it difficult to believe, that is no reason why you should not come and receive the grand absolution which Jesus Christ is ready to bestow upon you. Lame with doubting and distrusting, nevertheless come to the supper and say, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

Others were blind, and when they were told to come they could not see the way, but in that case the messenger was not told to tell them to come, he was commanded to bring them, and a blind man can come if he is brought. All that was wanted was willingness to be led by the hand in the right direction. Now you who cannot fully understand the gospel as you wish to do, who are puzzled and muddled, put your hand into the hand of Jesus, and be willing to believe what you cannot comprehend, and to grasp in confidence that which you are not yet able to measure with your understanding. The blind, however ignorant or uninstructed they are, shall not be kept away because of that.

Then there were the men in the highways, I suppose they were beggars; and the men in the hedges, I suppose they were hiding, and were probably thieves; but nevertheless they were told to come, and though they were highwaymen and hedge-birds, even that did not prevent their coming and finding welcome. Though outcasts, spiritual gypsies, people that nobody cared for; whatever they might be, that was not the question, they were to come because all things were ready. Come in rags, come in filth, come maimed, come covered with sores, come in all sorts of filthiness and abomination, yet because all things are ready they were to be brought or to be compelled to come in.

I think it was the very thing, which in any one of these people looked like unfitness, which was a help to them. It is a great truth that what we regard as unfitness is often our truest fitness. I want you to notice these poor, blind and lame people. Some of those who were invited would not come because they had bought some land, or five yoke of oxen, but when the messenger went up to the poor man in rags and said, “Come to the supper,” it is quite clear he would not say he had bought a field, or oxen, for he could not do it, he did not have a penny to do the thing with, so he was delivered from that temptation. And when a man is invited to come to Christ and he says, “I do not want him, I have a righteousness of my own,” he will stay away; but when the Lord Jesus came along to me I was never tempted in that way, because I had no righteousness of my own, and could not have made one if I had tried. I know some who could not patch up a garment of righteousness if they were to put all their rags together, and this is a great help to their receiving the Lord Jesus. What a blessedness it is to have such a sense of soul-poverty that you will never stay away from Christ because of what you possess.

Some could not come because they had married a wife. Now I think it very likely that those people who were maimed and cut were so injured that they had no wife, and perhaps could not get anybody to have them. Well then, they did not have that temptation to stay away. They were too maimed to attract the eye of anybody who was looking for beauty, and therefore they were not tempted that way. But they found at the ever-blessed supper of the Lamb an everlasting wedlock which was infinitely better. Thus do souls lose earthly joys and comforts, and by the loss they gain supremely: they are therefore made willing to close in with Christ and find a higher comfort and a higher joy. That maiming which looked like unfitness turned out to be fitness.

One excuse made was, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them.” The lame could not do that. When the messenger touched the lame man on the shoulder and said, “Come,” he could not say, “I am going out tonight to plow with my new teams.” He had never been over the fields since he had lost his leg, so he could not make such an excuse. The blind man could not say, “I have bought a piece of land and I must go to see it”; he was free from all lusts of the eye, and so was all the more ready to be led to the supper. When a soul feels its own sinfulness, and wretchedness and lost estate, it thinks itself unfit to come to Christ, but this is an assistance to it, since it prevents its looking to anything else but Christ, kills its excuses, and makes it free to accept salvation by grace.

But how about the men that were in the highway? Well, it seems to me that they were already on the road, and at least out of their houses, if they had any. If they were out there begging, they were more ready to accept an invitation to a meal of victuals, for it was that they were singing for. A man who is out of the house of his own self-righteousness, though he be a great sinner, is in a more favourable position and more likely to come to Christ than he who prides himself on his supposed self-righteousness.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Advice for Seekers (pp. 14–18). Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

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