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.