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.
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.
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!”
- Jesus was being watched! It was the Sabbath. The Pharisee’s provided “bait!”
- Pharisee's Self-Interest: They just wanted Jesus out of their way!
- Notice that Jesus approaches these guys with 2 questions. One question that they had on their mind already and with intent to condemn Him. Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not? The second question is asked knowing that they could not answer openly without condemning themselves. There was a question of principle and that of practice. In this brief episode, we see a quick lesson about the importance of serving others.
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.”
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.
- Be humble or be humbled!
- Wait for instructions from the Host
- Friend, move up higher
- Self interest: trying to move up & gain self recognition
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.”
- Get out of your comfort zone!
- Invite the poor, crippled, blind, lame
- You will be blessed at Resurrection of the Righteous (thinks the meaning is Messanic Kingdom only for notable Jews)
- Self interest: Wanted to host only for those who could reciprocate
- Life Application for today - Be a missionary! Help those who cannot help themselves!
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!”
- Breaking the awkward silence: “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
- Self interest: Wanted to change the subject and assumed that he would be a guest in the Kingdom of God.
- Jesus tells The Parable of the Great Banquet – Verses 16-24
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!
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.’”
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.
But they made excuses: These were laughably bad excuses!
- Guest #1– Bought a field – What property developer buys a field without looking at it first. Asks to be excused.
- Guest #2– Bought 5 yoke of oxen. Needed to try them out! One would usually try out the oxen before they were bought! Would you buy a car without trying it out first? He asks to be excused.
- Guest #3– Just got married! Says “I cannot” come!
The master ordered his servant to:
- Go out quickly
- Into the streets and alleys of the town
- Bring in the poor, crippled, the blind, and the lame. (Note: This was the same crowd that Jesus told the Host of this dinner party that he should have invited.)
- The servant did as he was ordered but reported that there is still room!
- The master sends his servant out a second time – but to the highways and hedges – this was outside of the gates of the city.
- COMPEL them to come in. So that his house would be full.
[Clicking this image will take you to a slide presentation of how to use this map!]
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.”
“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
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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?"
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!
- You got invited – sorta like a save the date!
- You accepted or rejected the invitation
- If you accepted, you waited for the Master to call you…when all was ready!
- When all was ready, the Master sent out his servant to gather the guests.
- When the servant brought you into the banqueting hall,
- you were greeted with a kiss – representing Love, Friendship, Reconciliation
- Your head was anointed – mark of respect, friendship - commission, officially enter into royality - honor
- Your feet were washed – by the servant (Jesus) – made clean & fresh
- You were given a robe – making sure you are presentable for the occasion (robe of righteousness)
- Escorted to a place of honor – there are varied rewards given in heaven – crowns
- Abundant portions are served to you – double or more
- When all who accepted the invitation arrived, the door was shut!
- No one else was allowed.
- The great feasting began with joy, music, double and sometimes 5 times more portions were served (abundant blessings)
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.
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!
NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Scolfield, John MacArthur, Interlinear Greek-English, Strongs Concordance, Josephus Complete Works
Just enter your email in the subscriber box on the right at the top of this blog page on the website, then REPLY to the invitation email you will receive in your personal inbox. Your email address is safe with us!
Follow ALL directions to completion!
Feel free to share our blogs on your social media
or email them to a friend.Just follow the instructions carefully