What is the parable of the great banquet about? In Luke 14, Jesus is dining at a pharisees house with many prominent pharisees and Jewish leaders. Jesus had just healed a man on sabbath and talks about serving others. Jesus mentions to not reserve one’s hospitality to only those who can return so in kind but to extend it to others who cannot do so, like the poor, the disabled, the lame and the blind. And those who serve others “will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous (v14).”
In response, someone at the table remarks that “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the Kingdom of God (v15).” Jesus’s reply is not what the others there probably expected. The pharisees saw themselves a few notches above the others Jews and well above the gentiles. They assumed that they would definitely be at the wedding supper of the lamb.
Jesus knowing their heart goes on to tell the parable of the great banquet – that the blessings of the Kingdom are not for a select few but open to all who come to Christ in faith. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
The association of the future messianic kingdom with a great feast was common as we see in Isaiah 25:6, Mathew 8:11, Rev 19:9.
“Blessed is the one”, yes, blessed is the one because there is no better place to be. Contrary to what the pharisees thought, Jesus begins to expound on what it takes to be at the banquet. Our faith points to Jesus and as we journey in this life we look forward to the coming together of God and His people. What a wonderful time and celebration that would be. One day we will experience it in full but we can have a taste of it right here and right now.
To be at the banquet we need an invitation, an invitation by grace.
What is the nature of God’s invitation?
It is an invitation that does not exclude, discriminate and is free, but the acceptance of the invitation carries with it responsibilities. And that responsibility is discipleship, not a naïve commitment that expects only blessings but a complete surrender to HIM.
What kind of commitment did the group of people first invited have?
We read in verses 18-20 that each of them gave excuses for not being able to go to the banquet. It does not require you to be a Sherlock to understand the excuses were quite lame.
The first excuse is about possessions – I have purchased a field and I need to go see it.
The second is about work – I have purchased ten oxen.
The third is about relationships – I have gotten married.
We can probably hear some of our excuses in these. How many times have those kinds of excuses “prevented” us from going to church, attending Bible study, giving time to the church in terms of service or maybe financially or having a quiet time of prayer or reading your Bible?
None of these excuses were sinful in itself, there is nothing wrong in investing in our earthly life, buying what you need to be able to work harder (oxen helped work the land) and there is nothing wrong in spending time with family. The point is that if that which we are blessed with hinders us in our walk with God then we need to re-evaluate what place in our lives they take. Do they sit before God in our eyes?
Good things wrongly prioritised can keep us from the greater things God has planned for us.
If you are someone who has grown up in church, or been walking with the Lord for a good few years, had scriptures in any way as part of your life; then you know that you are those that are invited. We have the freedom to read His word, the privilege to study His word, opportunities to learn more about God through different means and gather together with fellow believers and worship. And like we do here; share and discuss our faith and experiences and learn and encourage and be encouraged through the blogging community.
Yes, indeed we are the invited, but let us not take that for granted. We have to alert ourselves to remember not to let things of this world pre-occupy us that we push God to second place or even further down our priorities.
Let’s look at the second group, a group most unlikely to fit in at such a banquet; the poor, the lame and crippled; these were pictures of people in society who were on the outside looking in. They did not have the opportunities to grow up knowing God, a fellowship of believers to support and surround them. In this parable they are not the invited but they get to experience the banquet, why? because when the invitation goes to them, they choose to go.
If you think about it, the second group of people could have also easily come up with excuses, the poor could have said, I do not have the clothes to wear for this sort of thing, the crippled could have said, I have no one to get me there. The blind could have said, I cannot find my way there.
The invitation for them was not a burden or another one of the things getting in the way of life. They did not say Nah! I have too much going on at the moment. No, it was received with humility and gratitude.
We are blessed to have an invitation to the great banquet but we have to ensure we do not behave like the invited in this parable but instead stay fired up for God. God is at work in our life and he does not want us to journey through life with a lukewarm approach to our faith and our discipleship.
Humility and gratitude are crucial for our attitude not to mirror that of the first group of people. Our attitude should always say “God I need you and I am so deeply grateful for everything.”
And lastly, we are also the servant, because once you know Christ, it is our responsibility to go out and bring people in – telling them about Jesus.
Are we servants who feel compelled to bring people in? And not only share Jesus and bring those we think will fit in easy. But let God open our eyes to see the most unlikely to fit in and say to them, this is for you too; Yes! you are invited.