How gospel provision is well represented by a feast:
I. In the expensiveness of gospel blessings. As feasts are expensive and are provided at the expense of the host, so the provision which God has in the gospel made for our souls be exceeding expensive unto [him]. We have it for nothing. It costs us nothing, but it cost God a great deal. Fallen men can’t be feasted but at vast expense. We are by sin sunk infinitely low, into the lowest depths of misery and want, and our famishing souls could not be provided for [but] under infinite expense. All that we have from God for the salvation and support and nourishment of our souls cost exceeding dear. Never were any that were feasted at so dear a rate as believers: what they eat and drink is a thousand times more costly than what they eat at the tables [of] princes, that is far-fetched and dear bought.
Every crumb of bread that they eat and every drop of wine that they drink is more costly than so much gold or gems. God purchased it at no less a rate than with the blood of his only and infinitely dear Son. That holiness and that favor, and that peace and joy which they have, it was bought with the heart’s blood of the Son of God, his precious life. He made his soul an offering. Christ Jesus obtained this provision by victory. He was obliged to fight for it as it were up to his knees in blood that he might obtain it; yea, he waded through a sea of blood to get it for us.
II. As the guests are freely invited to a feast, so sinners are freely invited to partake of gospel blessings. How much soever the provision has cost God, he requires nothing of us for it. Alas, what should we do if it were required of us to buy those dainties at our own cost? It can’t be purchased with money. “It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies” (Job 28:15–18).
Alas, what can we do towards purchasing of it? What is all our righteousness to purchase such heavenly dainties? No, we can’t purchase it. Any price that we can offer is as insufficient to buy it, as our power is insufficient to create a world.
And there is no need of our endeavoring such an impossible thing as purchasing of this feast. We are freely invited. God will show the abundance of his divine liberality in the bestowment of it. It is to have most abject thoughts of God and of gospel blessings, to imagine that God would sell them to us for our righteousness.
God invites all freely. Thus we read in our context that those that were poor, those that were in the highways and hedges, were invited to this great supper; such as had nothing to pay, and such as did not pretend to it, it was with such that his house was filled, and by such was his feast eaten. In Isaiah 55:1, all that thirst are invited to “come, and buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Where we have the gospel invitations, they are very generally either to food or drink, as it is here. So it is in John 7:37, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Revelation 22:17, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
We are so freely invited to this feast, that there is no other condition required of us in order to our partaking of this feast, but accepting of the invitation, and sitting down at the table, and eating and drinking. Proverbs 9:2–5, “Wisdom hath killed her beasts; she hath also mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith unto him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.” And in Revelation 3:20, Christ promises that he will come in, and sup with us, and we shall sup with him, if we only hear his voice and open the door.
III. The provision God has made for us in the gospel is fitly represented by a feast, because it nourishes the soul as food does the body. Christ Jesus, as applied by the Spirit of God in our enlightening, effectual calling and sanctification, is the only nourishment of the soul. It was he that was represented by the manna the children of Israel eat in the wilderness. ‘Twas he that was signified by the sacrifices which are called the “bread of God” (Leviticus 21:6). John 6:48, “I am the bread of life.”
Receiving of Christ and his benefits is often called “eating” in the Old Testament and New. And this provision is called “bread” in many places.
The grace of Christ Jesus, it nourishes the soul; it gives life and strength to it. Before the soul receives this grace, it is dead. In this it doth more than bread does to the body, that does but preserve the life of the body and revives it when weakened and languishing; but this heavenly food revives men when dead. And it also continues the life of the soul: the soul, after it is revived, would die again, were it not for the continuance of supply of grace and spiritual nourishment. It strengthens the soul as food does the body. The soul in its natural condition is a poor, feeble, languishing thing, having no strength; but the grace of Christ makes it strong and vigorous. And this spiritual nourishment makes the soul to grow, as food doth the body. The supplies of the Spirit of God increase the life and vigor of the soul, increases the understanding, increases holy inclinations and affections; as bodily nourishment increases all the members of the body, makes a proportionable growth of every part…
IV. The spiritual provision of the gospel is well represented [by a feast], because of the excellency of it. We call those meals “feasts”, where the provision is what excels ordinary food. The provision that God has made for our souls in Christ is exceeding excellent. ‘Tis of the most noble kind: that which is to nourish the nobler part of men, viz. his soul, and that which is most suitable proper nourishment; that which tends, above all that can be conceived of, to give the soul the most excellent life and the most excellent satisfaction: which is evident by what had been already said about the costliness of it, its being what “cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof” [Job 28:15].
Doubtless, that food which cost the Son of God his blood and life is pure dainties, when it is procured. And it is everywhere represented as the richest and most noble and excellent food. It is called the “bread of heaven” and “angels’ food” (Psalms 105:40). So we are invited in Isaiah 55:2 not to “spend money for that which is not bread, and labor for that which satisfieth not,” but to come to Christ, to eat “that which is good,” that our souls may delight themselves in fatness. So this feast in Isaiah 25:6 is called “a feast of fat things, of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”…
V. Gospel provision is well compared to a feast by reason of the abundance and variety of it. There is every kind of blessing for our souls provided in the gospel that we need, so that we may want nothing at all, but may have every regular appetite and desire satisfied and we may be made completely [happy]. There is that which suits all dispositions and tempers, provided they are suitable and not sinful.
There is every kind of thing dispensed in Christ that tends to make us excellent and amiable, and every kind of thing that tends to make us happy. There is that which shall fill every faculty of the soul and in a great variety. What a glorious variety is there for the entertainment of the understanding! How many glorious objects set forth, most worthy to be meditated upon and understood! There are all the glorious attributes of God and the beauties of Jesus Christ, and manifold wonders to be seen in the way of salvation, the glories of heaven and the excellency of Christian graces. And there is a glorious variety for the satisfying the will: there are pleasures, riches and honors; there are all things desirable or lovely. There is various entertainment for the affections, for love, for joy, for desire and hope. The blessings are innumerable…
VI. The measure [of] love of Jesus Christ and of Christians, and of Christians amongst themselves, is represented by the friendship of those that feast together. Feasting together betokens love and friendship. Thus Abimelech and Isaac, when they made covenants (Genesis 26:30). So ’tis from the wonderful love of Jesus Christ that sinners are called to this feast and that he has provided such a feast for them at so dear a rate. This love is without a parallel, and all those that do accept of the invitation that are truly his guests, their hearts are possessed with a spirit of true love to Christ Jesus. They love him above all; he is to them the chief of ten thousands and altogether lovely. There is a great love between Christ and his guests. He and they are one, even as the Father is in him and he in the Father. There is the nearest union and a holy friendship between Christ and believers. They are Christ’s dear ones, his jewels; and Christ is their jewel, their pearl of great price.
And so there is mutual love amongst the guests. Believers are united in heart one to another. Therefore all men know that they are Christ’s disciples, that they have love one to another. They are all united under their host, under their head, Christ Jesus, with whom they sit at his table. Therefore Christ says, Canticles 5:1, “Eat, O friends.” They are Christ’s friends, and friends one to another.
VII. The communion of saints is represented by a feast. The word “communion,” as it is used in Scripture, signifies a common partaking of some good. Thus we read of the communion of the body of Christ and the communion of the blood of Christ, that is, the common partaking of his body and blood. Therefore, as in a feast they all have communion in the same fare with the host and with the other guests, so Christians have communion with Jesus: they partake of the same Spirit, of the same holiness and the same happiness; they are members of Christ’s body and partake of the same life with the head; they are branches in him and partake of the same sap and nourishment with the vine. Christ and believers are partakers of the same Spirit. Christ has the Spirit not by measure, and they have of the same Spirit by measure [John 3:34]. Christ has all fullness of grace in him, and believers have grace for grace [John 1:16]…
Believers also in the gospel feast have communion one with another. They all partake of that one bread. They have one Lord, [one] faith, one baptism. All drink into one Spirit, are all united together by partaking of the same influence of the same head. ‘Tis one Spirit that unites them all, so that they make but one body.
VIII. And lastly, this well represents the joy of Christianity. Feasts are made upon joyful occasions and for the manifestations of joy. Ecclesiastes 10:19, “A feast is made for laughter.” Christians, in the participation and communion of gospel benefits, have joy unspeakable and full of glory, a sweeter delight than any this world affords. We are invited in that forecited place, Isaiah 55:1–2, to come, that our souls may delight themselves in fatness. When the prodigal son returned, they killed the fatted calf and made a feast, and sang and danced and made merry; which represents the joy there [is] in a sinner, and concerning him, when he comes to Christ.
This spiritual feast is compared to a wedding feast. So was the feast spoken of in our text a wedding feast, as appears by the same parable as it is in Matthew 22, [at the] beginning: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding.” And so it is, Revelation 19:9, “Blessed are they which shall be called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”…
Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), “The Spiritual Blessings of the Gospel Represented by a Feast”, Sermons and Discourses: 1723-1729, 279-97.