Have you never heard of a king who made a series of great feasts and bade many week after week? He had a number of servants who were appointed to wait at his table; and these went forth on the appointed days and spoke with the people.
But, somehow, after a while the bulk of the people did not come to the feasts. They came in decreasing number; but the great mass of citizens turned their backs on the banquets.
The king made enquiry, and he found that the food provided did not seem to satisfy the men who came to look upon the banquets; and so they came no more. He determined himself to examine the tables and the meats placed thereon. He saw much finery and many pieces of display that never came out of his storehouses.
He looked at the food and he said, “But how is this? These dishes, how came they here? These are not of my providing. My oxen and fatlings were killed, yet we have not here the flesh of fed beasts but hard meat from cattle lean and starved. Bones are here, but where is the fat and the marrow? The bread also is coarse, whereas mine was made of the finest wheat. The wine is mixed with water, and the water is not from a pure well.”
One of those who stood by answered, “O King, we thought that the people would be surfeited with marrow and fatness, and so we gave them bone and gristle to try their teeth upon. We thought also that they would be weary of the best white bread, so we baked a little at our own homes, in which the bran and husks were allowed to remain. It is the opinion of the learned that our provision is more suitable for these times than that which Your Majesty prescribed so long ago. As for the wines on the lees, the taste of men runs not that way in this age; and so transparent a liquid as pure water is too light a draught for men who are wont to drink of the river of Egypt, which has a taste in it of mud from the mountains of the moon.”
Then the king knew why the people came not to the feast.
Does the reason why going to the house of God has become so distasteful to a great many of the population lie in this direction? I believe it does. Have our Lord’s servants been chopping up their own odds and ends and tainted bits to make therewith a potted meat for the millions; and do the millions therefore turn away? Listen to the rest of my parable.
“Clear the tables!” cried the king in indignation. “Cast that rubbish to the dogs. Bring in the barons of beef; set forth my royal provender. Remove those gewgaws from my hall, and that adulterated bread from the table, and cast out the water of the muddy river.”
They did so; and if my parable is right, very soon there was a rumor throughout the streets that truly royal dainties were to be had, and the people thronged the palace, and the king’s name became exceeding great throughout the land.
Let us try the plan. It may be that we shall soon rejoice to see our Master’s banquet furnished with guests.