If you've been keeping up with us over the past few months, you will know that we have been blogging our teaching from the home Bible Study Series we created entitled, A Feast for Your Soul. Each lesson is centered around the lessons that Jesus taught as he attended various feasts in the New Testament. Today's Musing is taken from Luke 14: 1-24 which doesn't contain warm hospitality or friendly conversations! It is filled with self-interests, rebukes, and tension.
This story takes place during a feast at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees. Jesus takes the opportunity to speak boldly to the Lawyers & Pharisees, the Honored Guests, the Host of the feast, and to a Guest who tries to make everyone a little more comfortable!
As I attempt to go through this extensive passage, the outline will consist of 4 brief sections and end with the parable of the Great Banquet and the 3 men who insulted the host with their excuses! Today's study is not for the faint of heart!
Plan to invest some time into todays devotion.
Enjoy Feasting at His Table!
What is a Parable? A Parable is a story with 2 levels of meaning where certain details in the story represent something else. Stories such as these are easily remembered, the characters bold, and the symbolism rich in meaning. Parables were a common form of teaching in Judaism anda common cultural form of communication. Though the religious leaders regularly resorted to quoting one another or used academic language, Jesus spoke in the storytelling format already familiar to His culture. In doing so, He connected with His audience in a way the religious leaders did not, both touching personal needs and communicating spiritual truth.
Why did He teach in parables? One of Jesus’ favorite literary techniques! It was common in the 1st century to speak with stories and riddles. When the disciples of Jesus asked Him why He spoke in parables, He answered, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand" (Matthew 13:11-13).
Banquets were feasting social events. Jesus was invited to dine by the Leader of the Pharisees. Little did the host know what was about to happen at this event! A banquet given by a Pharisee and hosting a famous teacher was one of the ways he showed his “more holy than thou” attitude along with a prideful exhibition of his social status. The New International Dictionary of the Bible & Unger’s Bible Dictionary says this about Banquets: The Hebrews, like other peoples of the ancient East, were very fond of social feasting. Besides religious observance of the great festivals, families feasted on birthdays, funerals, marriages, laying of foundations, and sheep shearing as well as other occasions. Not much different than our special events – but the process and what was entailed is rather different and I love the spiritual parallels that I have found while studying. I’ll share that toward the end.
After receiving several wedding invitations lately, "banqueting” has been on my mind for quite a while. Great food, drink, and entertainment are all a part of the festivities. What do you expect when you go to a reception/feast or a dinner banquet? Think about who you might see. Everyone got an invitation! So when you get an invitation, what does this invitation say of you? You are an honored guest. A person of great admiration. Family, friend. You are special!
In Jesus day, banquets were extraordinary. It was a special thing to get invited and no one wanted to turn down free food! Think about the cooking standards back then! They had to kill & gut the meat, gather the fruits, veggies, and bake the breads in less than conventional ovens!….Preparing for a feast in those days was a lot of work! They couldn’t just go to the store or the party store! ...Or get take out from a local restaurant!
In Luke 14, we read of Jesus entering the home a Prominent Pharisee…the leader of the Pharisees and it was on the Sabbath. Pharisees werea group of over-zealous religious people who opposed Jesus and His claims to being the Son of God. Pharisee comes from a Hebrew word meaning “separated!” As a general rule, the Pharisees were self-righteousness and smug in their delusion that they were pleasing to God because they kept the Law—or parts of it, at least. They separated themselves from society to study and teach the law, but they also separated themselves from the common people because they considered them religiously unclean. It was the Pharisees that started and controlled the synagogues, those Jewish meeting places that served for both local worship and education.
Now the Pharisees considered Jesus a threat. They seemed to always be butting heads and they tried to catch him doing something that would break their laws. It was constant eyes on him to see if he broke the rules especially during a Sabbath! This particular dinner party was far from what this Pharisee expected!
1 It happened that when He went into the house of one of the [a]leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely. 2 And [b]there in front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3 And Jesus answered and spoke to the [c]lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they kept silent. And He took hold of him and healed him, and sent him away. 5 And He said to them, “[d]Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” 6 And they could make no reply to this. Luke 14:1-6
I. The "Big Set Up" - A Lesson for the Pharisee's
At this particular dinner party, a man with dropsy was in his midst! This man wasn’t an “invited” guest because the Pharisee’s considered the commoners “unclean!”
Immediately after this vignette, we see that Jesus takes notice of other guests scuffling to pick places of honor at the table!
7 And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them,8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not [e]take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him,9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you [f]proceed to occupy the last place. 10 But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who [g]are at the table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
II. A Lesson to the Guests - Humility Leads to Exaltation
I can picture the chaos and all the moving around – remember, it was custom that they recline at the tables. I imagine Jesus hasn’t yet been seated and as he looks at the clamoring. He gets their attention by telling a story of how to act when someone invites you to a wedding feast. Where had their manners gone! It’s a good lesson for us today as well.
III. A Lesson for the Host (the Leader of the Pharisees)
Jesus hasn’t been under this roof very long and we see that he has spoken to the Pharisees and the guest…now He turns His attention to the Host of the meal…the leader of the Pharisees.
12 And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. 13 But when you give a [h]reception, invite the poor, the crippled, thelame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they [i]do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Here was a rebuke! Don’t invite those who could reciprocate and in turn invite you to a banquet. Get out of your comfort zone. Reach out to the common – those not like you – the destitute. You will be blessed at the resurrection of the righteous. The “resurrection of the righteous” was something that the Pharisee would understand. Jewish people expected the resurrection at the end of the age, usually associating it with the time of the Messiah’s coming and his kingdom. He just didn’t accept the fact that Messiah was standing in his presence! His view was that the Messianic kingdom was only for notable Jews.
IV. An Arrogant Interlude and a Story for the Assuming
15 When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
Suddenly, one of the guest burst out during what I’m sure was an awkward silence. Jesus' table conversation was staggering! He had just rebuked almost everyone...3 times!
In this man’s attempt to “change the subject,” he seeks to lighten up the mood and tries to make everyone happy. But what he says is a genuine attitude of arrogance. Something that he feels sure that he is worthy of and everyone else reclining around the table!
“Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” In other words...How about that feast?!
I’m sure he was remembering Is. 25:6
“ On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine – the best of meats and the finest of wines.”
This man missed out too, for the ultimate feast (Jesus) was staring him in the face!
Jesus replies to this man with the Parable of the Great Banquet: vs. 16-24
16 But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; 17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a [j]piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; [k]please consider me excused.’ 19 Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; [l]please consider me excused.’ 20 Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ 21 And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’23 And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’”
Before we go any further, let me tell you what I discovered about Great Banquets!
What is a GREAT banquet? Usually has a great many guest. Typically it begins near the end of the day or evening and may last 7 days. If it lasts longer, it is considered excess! So think about it! 7 days worth of feasting…with many people…how much food would you need? How much wine? What would you do for 7 days of entertainment? This certain man had to have a working plan!!
Two Invitations were given: An initial invitation at which time guest could respond (kinda like an RSVP) and then there's the “Come and Get it!” At which time ONLY the host knew when it would be ready! So as an invited guest, you would be looking forward to the date.
Now, the time came so the master sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, COME, everything is now ready!
But they made excuses: These were laughably bad excuses!
Interestingly, all of these guest had already RSVP’d! They knew this banquet was coming yet they opted to decline! This was a GROSS insult to the host! The servant comes back with the replies. The owner of the house became angry! Can you imagine? Not only have you been insulted, but you have this massive feast with no one to share it with.
The master ordered his servant to:
When I study the Bible, I like to use the method of Interpretative Journey Through the Scriptures Map.
[Clicking this image will take you to a slide presentation of how to use this map!]
There are the invited guests in both parts of the story (Luke 14:1-24) which can be represented as idols in our own life and keep us from feasting at His banquet table.
1. Religious leaders– represent OUR PRIDE
We can get really proud because of our works of righteousness. We can only be righteous because of our position with Christ that tranforms us and our journey.
Phil. 3: 7-9
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
2. Guest #1– The Property Developer – The idol of Our work. We believe that we can get MORE significance from our career than from Jesus. That’s why so many of us are work – aholics!
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” Colossians 3:23-24
3. Guest #2– MONEY: Security from our wealth. Notice that the man had just bought 5 yoke of oxen. This is crazy. 10 ox! Most families only needed one yoke! This man was spouting off the importance of his great wealth.
1 Tim. 6: 17-19
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
4. Guest #3- represents Our Relationships– This causes Co-Dependant tragedies. Putting our relationships before Christ is simply saying, I’m gonna get intimacy that I can’t get from Jesus. Oh…If we only knew the intimacy that comes from really knowing Christ!
He desires that we would taste and see that He is good.
Song of Solomon 2:4 "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”
These invited guest in the parable represent the Jewish Nation.
The Great Banquet is the Kingdom of God.
The master represents the House of God.
The Jews rejected Christ and He had been teaching that the kingdom of God was near. Matt 4:17 Kingdom of God is near. John 1:11 Jesus came to His own but His own received Him not.
The call was then to GO OUT: streets and lanes – members of Jewish society. Bring them in.
But then we see a broader search: the Highways and along the hedges. This represents outside of Judaism - To the Gentiles!
Jesus uses this parable with embedded layers of truth. Prophesy was fulfilled as Jesus the Messiah was standing before them issuing the invitation to Come to Him. The tragedy of the Jewish rejection of Christ has opened the door of salvation to the Gentiles. The blessings of the kingdom are available to all who will come to know Christ by faith.
Tyndale’s NT Commentary suggest that the 1st invitation represents the testimony of the OT prophets while the 2nd invitation is a more personal invitation….one that Jesus came to give. The church would be represented by the slave who went into the highways and hedges.
When we cross the river of culture, language, time, situation, we find that The Gospel/the Kingdom is a feast of Hope.
It was one for then….it’s one for now….and it’s one for the future.
In Acts 10 Jesus taught that the kingdom is even available to the unclean. We learned with the teaching of Zaccheaus, the extent of God’s grace, as Jesus was involved with tax collectors and sinners. Without Christ we are condemned and unclean. Salvation was extended to the Gentiles…that’s us!
Those who ignored the invitation to the banquet chose their own punishment – they missed out! The master respects their choice by making it permanent: “they will not taste of my banquet.” So it will be with God’s judgment on those who choose to reject Christ: They will never taste the joys of heaven.
So, this story in Luke 14 is once again, an invitation in itself. An invitation to the Great Banquet – the Kingdom of God!
My challenge was how to take this passage which has been taught to me so many times as a call to “missions” – “go into the highways and hedges”….and make this parable more applicable for everyday life.
So here’s a new little twist for you: Charles Stanley helped confirmed my thinking!
He said, “ I was speaking about this parable lately to a man who had been a butler in a family for many years. I said to him, “Just tell me what you do, when dinner or supper is on the table.” Oh, he said, I merely open the drawing-room doors and say, Dinner is on the table, which means all is ready. The guests then take their seats” Well, now, Said I, Suppose when you took off the covers, that there was a bit of paper on every dish with this sentence on it, “A promise of a supper,” what would you say? I never heard of such a thing. I said, No, I suppose not; no man would ever think of serving his fellow men, as unbelief would represent God,”
"Now, this is the simple question, Is the Gospel–feast a present, certain reality or is it the mere promise of salvation, leaving the anxious sinner in disappointment and uncertainty. Is it a real supper or the hope of one?"
We surely know that there is the hope of one yet to come…everyday I look forward to the Great Banquet at the end of time as we know it! The Wedding Supper of the Lamb.
But what about for today! I believe that the Gospel-feast or “love feast” is certainly here, now, as well.
If you are a believer, The invitation has already been sent…Some have said YES! When we invited Christ to be enthroned on our heart, He has offered us a table of great magnitude. He is the bread of life! He is the Living water! He offers a cup of New Wine.
Earlier we briefly discussed what is involved with a banquet. But I didn’t give you the full scoop. I wanted to save it for last to give you something sweet to linger on your taste buds and ponder deeply!
In the 1st Century, when you were invited to a great banquet, Here is the order of what would have happened:
This scripture passage not only reminded us of the history of he feast that the OT characters were looking forward to as we saw in Is. 25, but Jesus was speaking to these particular guest concerning the feast that was in front of their eyes.
It also foretells of a great feast yet to come in the book of Revelation. For me, it is also a passage for NOW.
It is not merely a promise of hope for a future supper.
It seems like the theme of a lot of my teachings is COME – But that’s what the Father bids us to do! Jesus calls us to “Come” – He has made ready for us by His crucifixion and resurrection.
Matt 25: 31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdomprepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Is. 55: 1-13
“Come,everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live;
So many times, I believe we settle for crumbs…we feel unworthy to even approach the table. We’ve accepted the invitation but we haven’t fully indulged in what the Father has prepared for us.
When I host a dinner, I like to choose a meal that I know the person will enjoy…something they really like or maybe don’t get very often! God does that for us. He has chosen a menu for your life that is rich, full, and one that you cannot buy!
It will fully satisfy!
Let me compel you to scoot your chair closer to the table. Pick up your fork and take hold of FAITH and TRUST – completely…for therein are great blessings!
Take up your knife and cut into the meat of His word. It is rich – it will fill you and satisfy every lonely and hurting heart. It will encourage you with promise! It’s totally something that you can sink your teeth into with confidence.
Raise your chalice! It is full of the sweetness of His new wine! The new covenant!
Join in the toast declaring, Our God Reigns!
And a great banquet isn’t complete unless it has music!
Let Him put a new song in your heart!
Sing praises and worship Him for YOU are HIS special and honored guest!
You have been invited to the great Love Feast.
We have all of this now….. But oh the day, my friend!
Are you excited?! The time is drawing near!
I believe it is the evening hour --- at any moment God could lean over to Jesus and say…
Everything is now ready, tell them to COME!
And the door will be shut!
Questions for Reflection:
Do you feast at His real banquet now or are you simply hoping for one to come?
Take a moment to self-examine if you are settling for crumbs or have you pulled your chair up to the table to enjoy the “love feast” set before you. Ask God to show you how He has prepared a great feast before you this very day!
Awaiting that Great Day!
Resources: Unger Bible Dictionary, Matthew Henry Commentary, Sally Clarkson, Charles Stanley, John Piper, Matt Heard, International Bible Dictionary, Tyndale’s, Commentary, GotQuestions.com, Grasping God’s Word – Duvall Hays
NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Scolfield, John MacArthur, Interlinear Greek-English, Strongs Concordance, Josephus Complete Works
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