Today, we are going to look at a parable that Jesus told. A parable can be defined as: a story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle. So, a parable is a teaching tool that Jesus would use often. They all used everyday examples, and were relatable stories to those who heard them. And they had a truth that Jesus was attempting to get across to those He was teaching.
We can understand a parable to contain two distinct layers. One on the surface which was a story that was understood by the listeners and the other layer is the deeper meaning which would illustrate a spiritual truth.
Before we read this particular parable, let’s look at Luke 14:1-14 to get a bigger picture of what Jesus is talking about and teaching.
One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, He was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of Him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, He healed him and sent him on his way.
5 Then He asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.
7 When He noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, He told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
12 Then Jesus said to His host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Here, we see Jesus dining in the home of a prominent Pharisee. Note here that the text in verse 1 says, they watched Jesus closely. These people (mostly Pharisees) seemed to always want to see Jesus do something that they could call Him out on. While they were doing this, Jesus was always teaching them something greater and more significant.
Jesus shares about the importance of godly hospitality and having a humble attitude. Jesus is always encouraging us to focus on others, and He really demonstrated it the greatest in how He lived and what He did on the cross for all of humanity.
Now, let’s look at the main parable we are talking about today.
15 When one of those at the table with Him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”
Do you like to receive an invitation to a special event or celebration?
The truth is, most of us do. There is something special about receiving a beautiful invitation in the mail that’s for you.
The parable we just read is a beautiful picture now of the fact that God’s invitation to His kingdom is for all people.
Let’s unpack this parable a bit more and see what this may represent for us today.
Let’s unpack this a little more.
In the first verses we read, someone at the table overhears what Jesus was saying and says, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
And Jesus responds with this parable: The Parable of the Great Banquet
The one who said “Blessed is everyone who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God” is a Jew who expects that he himself will enjoy the blessings of the coming kingdom and Jesus takes the opportunity to teach that one enters the kingdom of God enters by salvation, not by birthright or by works, by repenting and having faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus was teaching a greater truth about this and He uses the comment as an opportunity to clarify who would participate in the kingdom of God.
The Jewish religious leaders believed their seat at the table was secure because they lived a good life, they had kept the law, or so they believed, and therefore they had secured their ticket.
Have you ever planned a special dinner or party and had everything prepared and nobody wanted to come?
There is a lot of hard work and preparation involved in gatherings like these and it wouldn’t be fun to be the host in this scenario.
So now we see the guests starting to make excuses one by one, and these were certainly not good reasons for not attending. The behavior of all three invited guests would have been representative of the behavior of all of the many invited guests who chose not to attend. The Greek phrase used, apo mias pantes, means “from the first, all. So, the invited guests chose not to attend.
Something to also make note of is, back in the day, it would’ve actually been rude and an insult to the host for not attending a banquet, which you previously had accepted and indicated your attendance. So I’m not surprised that the master actually became angry when he heard those excuses.
When the Master said in verse 17 “Come, for everything is now ready,” Jesus was reminding the Israelites of what He’d been telling them repeatedly: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17).
Yet, while Jesus preached about the kingdom of heaven being near, the Jewish nation as a whole rejected Him and His teachings.
Their Jewish nation had been those who God had historically invited to relate personally with Him through His covenant and many of the invited Israelites refused to obey God’s covenant, thereby worshiping false gods, not obeying the commandments, and refusing to accept God’s invitation.
The Jews also did not like the Gentiles and they considered them “unclean” and “enemies of God” and Jesus came to tear down these barriers, making repentance and faith in Christ the only conditions of admissions to the kingdom.
This great banquet that Jesus was talking about has great significance for us today. It represents the kingdom of heaven. There were people back then who rejected this invitation, but unfortunately there are still people today who reject this invitation, who reject Jesus.
This points us to the text that talks about the great supper continuing, despite the people that chose not to attend. In verse 23, the master instructs the servant to “Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be full.” To compel is to: urge.
I believe that God is bringing our attention to the urgency to reach the lost today.
Just as the banquet still took place, the kingdom of God will continue and will remain, even as people reject God and His open invitation.
Today, I also think about the many means that we have. We have social media, we are in a country where we can freely worship God and share Jesus with others. We have such a great opportunity and I believe the Lord is encouraging us to seize this opportunity for His glory.
The process of the open invitation is very important for us. I want to encourage you and I also want to leave us with 3 reminders today:
1- God’s invitation to be saved is for all people
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The master wasn’t satisfied with a partially full banquet hall; he wanted every place at the table to be filled. This is a great picture of God’s heart for all people. This is His desire, that all would come to repentance and have a relationship with Him.
It’s also important to appreciate the fact that the Master’s invitations were sent to the poor, maimed, blind, and lame. These people were considered outcasts by the Pharisees. But Jesus challenged that way of thinking, always teaching His audiences that the kingdom of God was available to anyone, even the “unclean” whom the Jewish leaders deemed to be cursed by God. Jesus came to die for all and God has a heart for all people. This is an open invitation for all.
2- This invitation needs to be accepted and not just received and acknowledged
“Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
When we receive an invitation, there requires some sort of response on our part. Usually, we will reply with a yes or no. This allows the host to make the necessary arrangements and planning, according to the guest list.
When we receive God’s open invitation to His kingdom, we need to accept it as well. This is actually the greatest invitation we will ever receive because it is eternal. It’s not a one-time event that we attend, but rather a life-long beautiful relationship that we enjoy forever.
We need to respond to the invitation and accept it.
3- Once we’ve heard and accepted God’s invitation, we need to extend and share this invitation with others who do not know Jesus
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
In today’s days, sharing is such a big thing. You hear about sharing all over social media, and it can actually be a powerful thing. Out of all the “sharing” we can do in this lifetime, the most significant thing we need to share with others is this open invitation to God’s kingdom.
It is life-changing, powerful, and beautiful in so many ways. Let’s make it a priority to share this invitation with others. You cannot control the response, but let’s not allow that to be an excuse to not share.
Have you heard of people who are considered “unreached”?
Unreached people are consisted of people groups who have very little or no access to hearing about Jesus.
The world Population is currently about 7.96 billion and there are about 42.3% unreached people in the world. That is mind blowing. It is almost half of our world population. Some examples of countries with the highest percentages are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, and Turkey.
You can visit JoshuaProject.net for some more statistics and to stay updated.
You may have never heard of these people groups and I wanted to share this with you. You may not be able to visit these places yourself, but you can certainly pray for these countries and pray for new missionaries.
At OMS Canada, we believe the power of the gospel in the hands of disciple-makers will transform all nations and we give every missionary and donor the opportunity to make a generational investment in the lives and communities of people around the world who have yet to hear the good news. Your investment will multiply disciple-makers, churches, leaders, and missionary movements.
Will you join us?
There is an urgency and we need act now, while we have the time because as we all know there will be a time where the opportunity will no longer exist. The invitation is open right now. Let’s do our part, with God’s help, through the Holy Spirit, to share this invitation with as many people as we can.
What scripture or text do you turn to most often when you are going through a trying time? What biblical principles do you turn to when you are going through a difficult time or experiencing some sort of suffering? Romans 8:28 is a treasured passage of many believers:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
We often cling to the idea that something positive will emerge out of our suffering. But what exactly are we hoping for? Sometimes, we interpret the good as something tangible, earthy, and now, such as: Maybe the job I lost will lead to an even better job. Perhaps this unfulfilled ambition will open the door to one that is even better. Maybe the reason why this relationship ended is because I have a better one in waiting for me.
The fruits of affliction are not always material or tangible.
While there are moments in our lives when we can reflect on adversity and see how it led to something better in the present, there are other positive outcomes from adversity that aren't material or tangible. They aren't something our unaided eyes can see. They have an inner and a spiritual side. They therefore have eternal significance.
Although John Newton is most remembered for writing the beloved hymn Amazing Grace, he also produced a large number of letters over his lifetime. Today, several of these letters are still published. His writings serve as a reminder of God's grace in the believer's life.
In one letter, he discusses the fruits of affliction for the believer:
Though afflictions in themselves are not joyous, but grievous, yet in due season they yield the peaceful fruits of righteousness. Various and blessed are the fruits they produce.
There are numerous fruits of affliction in the Believer life.
What are those fruits?
1. Prayer: Because our prayers have a tendency to become stiff and lethargic in times of ease, prayer is intensified by affliction. How accurate is this? We are more inclined to pray to the Lord when we are going through a difficult situation than we are when things are going smoothly. In my personal experience, I've seen that throughout difficult times, my prayer life grows and develops because the difficulty serves as a reminder of how dependent I am on God's grace.
2. Scripture: We can better understand the Scriptures and, in particular, God's promises to us, through affliction. Many of God's promises in the Bible deal with how he will help us when we are in need, but we won't be able to personally experience these promises unless we are going through a trying period. "We cannot know their fullness, sweetness, and certainty so well as when we have been in the position to which they are fitted, have been able to trust and plead them, and have found them fulfilled in our own case. The wisdom, power, and faithfulness of God are shown to us more clearly through trials.
3. Testimony: Our afflictions provide the opportunity to testify to others of God’s grace. When people see how God has brought us through a trial, God is glorified. Our lives then become living testimonies of God’s mercy and grace and give us an opportunity to share the reason for our hope.
4. Strength: Some graces, including resignation, patience, humility, and long-suffering, can only be discovered through affliction. The same way that lifting weights strengthens our muscles, suffering also causes us to develop traits that we would not otherwise possess without suffering's influence on our life. As the saying goes, "Activity and strength of grace is not typically gained by those who sit still and live comfortably, but by those who constantly encounter something requiring a full exertion of the force the Lord has given them."
5. Compassion: Affliction helps us have compassion for others who suffer. While we can have sympathy for others in affliction without experiencing such suffering ourselves, it is not as strong as when we have experienced it ourselves. Likewise, suffering helps us know more of the sufferings of Christ.
6. Humility: Finally, adversity and suffering help us better understand the genuine nature of our hearts. Affliction makes hidden sins in our souls more evident. This finding is undoubtedly painful, but until it is discovered, we tend to underestimate our own depravity and are unable to so fully despise ourselves and repent in dust and ashes. The fruit of humility is seeing the truth about ourselves.
Romans 8:28 promises good to come through our trials and afflictions. Though the trials are not good in and of themselves—far from it! —God uses them for our good.
Have you seen any of this fruit in your own life?
We would like to hear from you.
Welcome back to the Discipleship blog series. If you haven’t read the previous posts, you can find them here.
Last time we learned about God’s Great, Greater, and Greatest Blessings and how you can share them with others.
This week we’ll learn that, just like ducklings, we can and should follow and lead in discipleship at the same time.
Disciples are like ducklings. To be a leader, they don’t have to know everything. They just have to be one step ahead.
God wants His family to grow in faithfulness - and so He expects every leader to be a follower, every sharer to be a believer, and every disciple-maker to be a disciple - at exactly the same time, too.
Another trap we fall into, as disciples and disciple-makers, is the false belief that someone, somewhere knows everything and if we just find and follow them, then we’re set.
But that’s not how discipleship works, either.
In God’s Kingdom, there’s only one “Mother Duck” that all of us follow -- and that’s Jesus Christ.
No missionary. No pastor. No seminary professor. Only Jesus deserves the full measure of our faith.
The rest of us are “in process.”
There will always be someone closer to Jesus that we can follow. And there will always be someone further away that we can lead. But no matter our position, our eyes - and our hearts - should always be fully fixed on Jesus.
In the Bible, Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament and started many of the first churches, didn’t just write - “Follow me.” He wrote, “Follow me, as I follow Christ,” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Paul knew what ducklings everywhere know and what every disciple should know, too - every leader in God’s Kingdom has to be a follower - and all of us follow Jesus.
In the Bible, Paul also wrote: “What you have heard from me… share with faithful men, who will be able to teach others, too,” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Paul knew what ducklings everywhere know and what every disciple should know, too.
Every follower in God’s Kingdom has to be a leader - and all of us should lead like Jesus, laying down our lives for others.
If you want to see God’s family grow far and grow in faithfulness, then think of disciple making like ducklings - become a follower and a leader at exactly the same time.
What is one area of discipleship (reading/understanding the Bible, praying, sharing God's Story, etc.) that you want to learn more about? Who is someone that could help you learn?
What is one area of discipleship that you feel you could share with others? Who is someone that you could share with?
Welcome back to the Discipleship blog series. If you haven’t read the previous posts, you can find them here.
Last time we learned about baptism and how to baptize a disciple.
In today’s post, we will learn about God’s Greatest Blessing.
In this session, we’ll talk about God’s GREAT, GREATER and GREATEST BLESSINGS and how you can share them with others.
When someone chooses to follow Jesus, how do you help them move down the right path? How do you help them become a producer in God’s kingdom and not just another consumer? How do you help them receive all the blessings that God is willing to give?
I start by telling them this…
• It is a blessing to follow Jesus.
• It is a great blessing to lead others to follow Jesus.
• It is a greater blessing to start a new spiritual family.
• It is the greatest blessing to equip others to start new spiritual families.
You have chosen to follow Jesus and so God has blessed you. I want you to have God’s great blessing, greater blessing and greatest blessing, too. Can I show you how?
If they want to know more, I ask them to make a list of 100 people they already know.
Then I ask them to choose five people from that list - five people who do not know Jesus - five people they want to share with right away. It is a blessing to follow Jesus. Who else do you want to share this blessing with?
I teach them to share their TESTIMONY - the story of what God is doing in their life.
I teach them to share the GOSPEL - the story of what God is doing in the world.
I teach them how to share about God’s great, greater and greatest blessings.
I have them practice these things one time for each of the five people they’ve chosen to share with. First their story. Then God’s story. Then God’s blessings.
Each time, I pretend to be one of the five people from their list.
Each time, they share their story. They share God’s story. They invite me to become a follower of Jesus, too. They teach about God’s great, greater and greatest blessing.
Each time, I ask them questions or make comments that I think that person might make. After we’ve practiced, I ask to meet them again - just two days later if possible - to see how this sharing is going.
I want to give them enough time to meet with the five from their list, but I don’t want to give so much time that they put it off or forget.
I always ask for a phone number or email address or another way to keep in touch.
I pray with them that God will give the right words just as they’ve shared with me. Two days later, we meet again and talk about how the sharing is going.
If they haven’t shared, I offer to practice with them more. I offer to go with them right then to any of the five who might be available. I do everything I can to help them begin sharing.
But I won’t talk about new things. I want to give them the best opportunity to be faithful with what they’ve already learned.
If they refuse or make excuses, I ask God if this is really “good soil” that will be fruitful for His kingdom or if there is somewhere else where I should be investing.
But, if they have shared - we celebrate! Even if none on their list believed, I’m excited that they HEARD, OBEYED and SHARED. That’s being faithful.
And since they’ve been faithful with a little, I’m glad to share more. I share about BAPTISM and give them another tool they can use.
I ask them to choose some other people from their list of 100 - people who don’t know or don’t follow Jesus. And then I practice with them - just like before - with their story, with God’s story and with God’s blessings. And we pray.
Now if they shared AND someone on their list believed, we really CELEBRATE! God’s family is getting bigger!
I always ask if they shared about the great, greater and greatest blessing, because this is what keeps God’s family growing. If they didn’t share about God’s blessings, we go over it again -- the blessings, how a new follower of Jesus can make a list, how they can share their story, share God’s story and share the blessings -- all so that new followers of Jesus can learn to share, too.
After we’ve practiced, I send them back to that new believer so they can continue sharing.
But what about those who have shared AND someone on their list believed AND they shared the blessings?
When that happens I am OVERJOYED. This person is what God’s word calls “good soil” -- someone who may grow God’s family in ways that are greater than I’ve ever seen!
Whenever I find someone like this, I make plans to meet with them often. I invest heavily in their spiritual development. I share new lessons like BAPTISM and how to start a THREE-THIRDS GROUP.
Now they can begin to grow a spiritual family - starting with those same new followers of Jesus. Since they are so faithful, I’m excited to share as much as I can and see what God does next.
Always a step at a time.
Always giving them a chance to LEARN, OBEY and SHARE what they know.
I also pray for this person - as often as I can - thanking God for allowing me to share and learn with them and always asking Him to give them His GREATEST BLESSING.
Is this the pattern you were taught when you first began following Jesus? IF not, what was different?
After you came to faith, how long was it before you began to disciple others?
What do you think would happen if new followers started sharing and discipling others immediately?