SABBATH MORNING — The Divine Invitation
"Behold, I have made ready my dinner. All things are ready. Come to the marriage." —Matthew 22:4.
Let the King of Heaven and Earth say this to you. In honor of His Son He has prepared a great supper. There the Son bears His human nature. There are all the children of men, dear and precious to the Father, and He has caused them to be invited to the great festival of the Divine love. He is prepared to receive and honor them there as guests and friends. He will feed them with His heavenly food. He will bestow upon them the gifts and energies of everlasting life.
O my soul, thou also hast received this heavenly invitation. To be asked to eat with the King of Glory: how it behooves thee to embrace and be occupied with this honor. How desirous must you be to prepare yourself for this feast. How you must long that you should be in dress and demeanor, and language and disposition, all that may be rightly expected of one who is invited to the court of the King of kings.
Glorious invitation! I think of the banquet itself and what it has cost the great God to prepare it. To find food for angels: for this only one word was necessary. But to prepare for man upon this accursed earth a banquet of heavenly food—that cost Him much. Nothing less than the life and blood of His Son, to take away the curse and to open up to them the right and the access to heavenly blessings. Nothing less than the body and the blood of the Son of God could give life to lost men. O my soul, ponder the wonders of this royal banquet.
I think of the invitation. It is as free, as wide as it could be, "without money and without price." The poorest and the most unworthy are called to it. And so urgent and cordial is it. Not less cordial is the love which invites to it, the love which longs after sinners and takes delight in entertaining and blessing them.
I think of the blessing of the banquet. The dying are fed with the power of a heavenly life, the lost are restored to their places in the Father's house, those that thirst after God are satisfied with God Himself and with His love.
Glorious invitation! With adoration I receive it, and prepare myself to make use of it. I have read of those who hold themselves excused because they are hindered, —one by his merchandise, another by his work, and a third by his domestic happiness. I have heard the voice which has said, "I say unto you, that none of these men which were bidden shall taste of My supper." Under the conviction that He who so cordially invites me is the Holy One, who will not suffer Himself to be mocked, I will prepare myself to lay aside all thoughtlessness, to withdraw myself from the seductions of the world; and with all earnestness to yield obedience to the voice of the heavenly love. I will remain in quiet meditation and in fellowship with the children of God, to keep myself free from all needless anxiety about the world, and as an invited guest, to meet my God with real hunger and quiet joy. He Himself will not withhold from me His help in this work.
Eternal God, I have received the good tidings that there is room also for me at the table of Thy Son. With grateful thanks I receive thy invitation, God of all grace. I hunger for Thy bread, O Lord. My soul thirsts for God. For the living God my flesh and my heart cry out. When shall I enter and appear before the face of God?
Lord, graciously bestow upon me this week a real blessing in the way of preparation. Let the sight of my sinfulness humble me deeply and take away from me all hope in myself. Let the sight of Thy grace again encourage me and fill me with confidence and gladness. Do Thou Thyself stir up within me a mighty desire for the Bridegroom, for the precious Jesus, without whom there could be no feast. And may it be manifest in me this week that I am full of the thought that I have an invitation to eat bread in the house of my God with his only-begotten and well-beloved Son. Lord, grant this for Jesus' sake.
Lord Jesus, thou hast taught me: "God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." Lord, spiritual worship we cannot bring: but Thou wilt bestow upon us Thy Spirit. I entreat thee, Lord, to grant the working of the Spirit. The blessing of the Supper is a high spiritual blessing. The invisible God will there come very near to us and will very mightily impart the gift of eternal life to those who have the spiritual capacity for it. Only the spiritual mind can enjoy the spiritual blessing. Thou knowest how deeply I fail in this receptiveness for a full blessing. But grant, I pray thee, that the Holy Spirit may this week dwell and work in me with special power. I will surrender myself for this end to Him and to His guidance, in order that He may overcome in me the spirit of the world and renew my inner life to inherit from my God a new blessing,. Lord, let Thy Spirit work mightily within me.
And as I thus pray for myself I pray also for the whole congregation. Grant, Lord, in behalf of all thy children an overflowing outpouring of Thy Spirit, in order that this Supper may really be for all of us a time of quickening and renewal of our energies. Amen.
MONDAY MORNING — The Preparation
"Where wilt Thou that we go and make ready, that thou mayest eat the passover?" "He will himself show you a large upper room furnished and ready, and there make ready for us." "If thou set thine heart aright, then stretch out thine hands toward Him." —Mark 4:12, 15; Job 11:13.
The greater a work is that a man undertakes the more important is the preparation. Four days before the Passover the Israelite had to make his preparations. The Lord Jesus also desired that care should be taken to obtain an upper room furnished and ready where the Passover might be prepared. When I am called upon to meet my God and to sit down at His table, I will see to it that I do not approach it unprepared. Otherwise I should dishonor Him and lose the blessing which is destined for me, and cover my soul with heavy guilt.
For a right preparation two things are necessary. The first is this: that my heart should be occupied and filled with Him who has invited me, and with all the glorious blessing which He is to bestow upon me. Great thoughts of Jesus and large expectations of what His love will do will set the heart aglow and be the best preparation for meeting Himself.
The second part of preparation is to consider if I shall be a worthy guest, acceptable and welcome to the Lord of the Feast: that is if I am really an invited guest willing and prepared to come to the table according to the law of the King in such a manner as He will approve of. To cherish mean thoughts of myself, and no more expectation from myself or of any good in me, and out of this to have deep-rooted renunciation of myself in order to be willing to live through Jesus alone—this is the attitude of soul which leads to a blessed observance of the Supper.
Man obtains nothing without laying out time upon it. Even where free grace is to do everything apart from our working, we must give it time to carry out its work in our hearts. It is only when in secrecy I resolve with myself to look to Jesus until my desires become truly operative within me, that I shall be really prepared for the banquet. It is only when I deal trustfully with Him in the ordinary converse of the hidden and the daily life, that I can expect extraordinary blessing from public communion with Him at His table. Yea, hunger and thirst cannot be awakened simply when I see the table. It is in the conflict of the preceding life that hunger and thirst are aroused. Only for such is the table a feast. May this quickening not be wanting to me in this preparation.
But, alas! just as little as it was my work to prepare the table with its food, am I in a position to prepare myself as a guest for the feast. The Lord who says, "All things are ready," has also prepared the wedding garment. He Himself will clothe the guests and prepare them for His feast. Therefore I will ask Him for this also. It was of the Lord that the disciples asked: "Where wilt thou that we prepare the passover?" Of Him also I may and will ask: "Lord,how wilt thou that I prepare the passover?" This week I will continue in quiet meditations and prayer at His feet, with eye and heart fixed upon Him. I know assuredly that I shall find what is needful for me in celebrating this feast.
Lord, deliver me from all superficiality and light-mindedness in drawing near to Thy table. Too often have I supposed that it is self-evident I must use again the Lord's Supper. I have considered too little how needful it was to take the stones out of the way, when the Lord Himself shall come to prepare His way and make His path straight. I fancied that it was a light thing to receive blessing. Lord, forgive me this error. Do Thou Thyself enable my soul to understand what is meant by saying that sinful man shall meet his God. Do Thou Thyself work within me true conscientiousness and eagerness to lay bare and to lay aside every sin, and trust myself wholly to Thee with a real surrender of the whole soul and of all its powers.
Lord Jesus, hear, I beseech Thee, this my petition. O Lord, grant that I may not lose the blessing by thoughtlessness or idleness. O my Lord, how much has it cost Thee to prepare the table for me, and now even this is not enough. I must still ask Thee to prepare me for the table. I thank Thee for the joyful assurance which I have that Thou wilt do this. Therefore I place myself for this week in Thy hands, in order that by Thy working in me a right condition of soul may be brought into existence.
Precious Lord, grant me the broken and contrite heart. And grant unto me to look up unto Thee with a living, active faith as my Friend, my Saviour, my All. Grant, Lord Jesus, that I also may be able to say: I have but one thought, one desire, and that is Jesus. So shall I be prepared with honor to the Father to glorify Thee by my cheerful confession that I desire nothing but Thee, and Thy wonderful love.
My Saviour, I depend upon Thee throughout this week. Work thou in me a true preparation for the Supper. I expect it from Thee. Amen.
—Lord's Table, The