Vol. IX — No. 27 July 7, 1968


Starvation and Malnutrition in the Midst of Plenty! Nourishmemt and Life in the Midst of Want!

Luke 14:16-24

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 hidden, 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 shewed 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.

In Christ Jesus, who invites all to partake of the Supper of Salvation prepared by His Father, Fellow Redeemed:

“A certain man made—more literally, was making—a great supper, and bade many.” With those words the activity of God the Father is sketched from the first announcement of the promise of the Supper of Salvation, down through the Old Testament centuries and including the New Testament days of fulfillment when God sent His Son to finish preparations on the Supper of Salvation by fulfilling all righteousness, by suffering to make atonement for all sin and by rising again for the justification of all mankind. Down through those centuries many were invited through the efforts of the prophets and then at the beginning of the New Testament era by John the Baptist. And then this man, God the Father, “sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were hidden, Come; for all things are now ready.” Jesus is that servant. His entire public ministry was a constant repeating—privately and publicly, to few and to many—of the invitation: “Come, for all things are now ready.” What were the results of those efforts? Excuses, and more excuses! And what was the reaction of God the Father who had prepared the Supper of Salvation? Anger! The invited guests spurned His Supper. Since they spurned it, they would not taste of it! The servant, who is the Lord Jesus, was instructed to go to the poor of the city and bring them in to the Supper. Here the parable points to this development in the ministry of Jesus that when the religious leaders and the upper classes rejected the invitation to the Supper of Salvation, the Lord Jesus turned to the poor, the publicans and sinners, with that invitation. But there was still room in the banquet hall. So the Lord said to His Servant, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” At this point the parable becomes prophetic. The invitation to partake of the Supper of Salvation would be taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles. And so it came to pass as the book of Acts reports and the subsequent history of the Kingdom has demonstrated.

Notice that the parable presents the extremes: three groups didn’t eat and starved; two groups ate and lived. The extremes include lesser degrees: malnutrition before starvation and nourishment as a condition for life. If we consider these lesser degrees with the extremes of the parable, we get this picture:


Consider first of all the case of—

I. Those obsessed with the desire to possess.

The Supper was sufficient for all; there were no shortages. When all was ready, the notice went out: “Come; for all things are now ready.” What was the reaction? Excuses! “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.” This invited guest would have been most happy to come, but it just wasn’t possible. He had a greater need—to inspect a purchase of real estate. He begged to be excused. He declined the Supper politely.

Look about you, and you will see this fellow multiplied by the millions. He politely says “No” to the Supper of Salvation because he has greater needs to satisfy. And what are they? Possessions, which dominate him as an obsession. In another parable the Lord had taught this truth: “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Luke l2:l5. But all of society has combined to contend against this truth. The government of the United States which has arbitrarily established the boundary line for poverty, the consolidarity march held in Washington D.C. this past week, the association of manufacturers and retailers, the advertising people, the real estate and insurance agents, the credit bureau people, the philosophy of communism, socialism and capitalism all say that a man’s life consists in the things that he possesses. This is the philosophy of the world! Han judges his fellow man by what he has—by his home, his car, his boat, his credit rating, his clothes, his furniture, his credit cards. Candidates get elected in this country by promising those that have not that they shall get more. This is the way it is! What happens when such people are offered the Supper of Salvation? “I pray thee, have me excused. I have much greater needs—the need to possess!”

To a greater or lesser extent we all have a natural desire to possess. Isn’t it the cause of much spiritual malnutrition among us also because we at times fight a losing battle against the obsession to possess. How many portions of the Supper of Salvation that are prepared for serving on Sunday morning in the Worship Service and Sunday School are not missed because of this obsession for the possession and enjoyment of the material things of life? Those who miss portions of the Supper of Salvation are inflicting upon themselves spiritual malnutrition.

Consider now the case of—

II. Those overly involved in the business of life.

“And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.” The first alleged a necessity to be absent; this one has no such urgent necessity, but he still has sufficient reason to go in another direction. He has made a business deal. So sorry! Please excuse me!

No one denies that the head of a family has the God-given responsibility for providing for his own. No one denies either that in our times it may be necessary for the wife to work in order to take care of the family’s needs. No one denies that work schedules now-a-days take little notice of the offerings of portions of the Supper of Salvation on Sunday mornings. We all realize these things.

But no one will deny also that it is mighty easy to become so involved in the business of life that there just is no time left over for partaking of the Supper of Salvation. There are those who work so hard and such long hours during the week that they just collapse on Sundays and are unable to get out of the bed, much less get ready and come to the House of the Lord. There are those who are so involved in the business of life that Sundays is the only day left to get the household and yard chores done. And yet many people who live this way week after week, month after month, year after year have their names on the rolls of Christian churches and consider themselves to be Christians.

Small wonder it is that things are as they are in the churches! Small wonder it will one day be that many people who have their names listed on church rolls will one day open their eyes in hell. Spiritual malnutrition will eventually destroy spiritual life. I know that life here in an urban area is more complicated than life in a rural area. I know that many of you at times have conflicts—legitimate ones. But let each one understand this: Each Sunday diligent efforts are made to serve you a nourishing portion of the Supper of Salvation both in the Worship Service and in the Sunday School. During the past two weeks special efforts were made to prepare nightly portions for the Vacation Bible School. Special efforts are made each week to prepare the sermons in mimeographed form and to prepare a bulletin that will bring you nourishing Spiritual food. Whoever excuses himself from these spiritual offerings without legitimate reason but simply because he has become overly involved in the business of life is inflicting upon himself spiritual malnutrition that may lead to spiritual starvation and from there to spiritual death and eternal damnation. Why suffer malnutrition? Why starve yourself in the midst of plenty? Come, eat and drink and be nourished unto life!

Consider now the case of—

III. Those caught in the social whirl.

“And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.” This third person has other plans. Any sign of politeness is gone. No excuses are made. There is a simple blunt refusal.

We think here of people caught in the social whirl because weddings fill the society pages of the newspapers. Closely related to this group are the hedonists, the worshippers of pleasure and the good life. For some of us who have been accustomed to eat regularly at the Supper of Salvation Sunday after Sunday and frequently during the week when the opportunity presents itself, it is difficult to imagine that there are people who are So busy and so tied up with the quest for enjoyment and pleasure and with the satisfying of all their social obligations that they can’t find time for weeks on end, for months, and even for years to come and sit and refresh their souls with a bite from the Supper of Salvation. And yet such people, and every church seems to have some on their rolls, imagine that they are good Christians. What a self-deception! No one can subject himself to spiritual malnutrition for any length of time without finally starving to death spiritually. The truths learned in one’s youth may support and sustain one for a time, but gradually, if they are not nourished and reinforced, they will die and the spirit becomes dead, while the body moves from one social engagement to another, and from one attempt to find pleasure to another. Holy Scripture describes such people as being “dead while yet living.”

Now consider the case of—

IV. Those who are poor and need a free meal.

“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.” There still was 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.” Think of this spiritually. The religious leaders and upper classes, who thought they had all they needed, rejected the Supper of Salvation. Jesus turned to the poor and needy, who hungered and thirsted after righteousness. Later the Apostles turned from the Jews, who thought they were saved because they were God’s chosen people, to the Gentiles, who were Spiritually poor and needy and who hungered and thirsted after righteousness.

God grant that we are such! Certainly we work to possess things and we enjoy them. Certainly we are involved in the business of life. No one can live or survive without becoming involved. Certainly we have social obligations and enjoy social relationships. God never expects His people to become hermits and recluses. The people of God are always in this world, while resisting the temptation to become a part of it. And how is this done? By keeping in mind that we are all afflicted with a natural and an acquired poverty. We may appear on the streets as good and honest and respectable citizens, but we carry about with us the burden of our own sins. We may keep all the laws of the state, but we must confess that we fall short of the laws of our God. We may be complimented for our contributions to society, but privately we must at the same time confess that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. What we need above and beyond any possession is the possession of God’s forgiveness and Christ’s righteousness. Though we are involved in the business of life, we know that we must become involved in the business of eternal life. Though we have social obligations we know we must take time for fellowship with those who would sit down and eat and drink at the Supper of Salvation. That is why you are here—to be reminded that Christ must come first in your lives and to be reassured that Christ is your Righteousness, your Life, your Hope, your Joy, your Glory. Eat that, drink it, accept it and believe it, and you will receive nourishment unto eternal life. It’s all offered to you free and without cost. Thank God that it is that way, for we have nothing to offer in return. Let us eat and enjoy this free Supper of Salvation. Amen.

—Pastor Paul F. Nolting

Preached - June 23, 1968
Holy Trinity Independent
Evangelical Lutheran Church
West Columbia, South Carolina

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