Luke 14-16 Parable: The Great Banquet

From Luke 14-16

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If you were going to have a dinner party, who would you invite over? In today’s passage Jesus is invited over for a feast at a Pharisee’s place. He makes a few suggestions as to who they should invite and why. Jesus then tells a parable about a master who invited many to his feast yet all reject him. The master then sends his servant out to go an invite the poor and needy and those far off. Where do you fit in this story?

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

Jesus has been invited to a house of a Pharisee ruler during one Sabbath. They did this so they could watch him closely and check his theology. Now Jesus had healed many people and his reputation had spread. While he was at the Pharisees place a man with dropsy comes in.

Remember on the Sabbath, the people of Israel were commanded by God to do no work.

Jesus seizes the opportunity to create a stir and heal the man. He asks them if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. As if they could heal like Jesus anyway. They remained silent and Jesus heals the man. Clearly it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath, otherwise Jesus would have trespassed. But Jesus asks the question to get them to think deeper about what is right and wrong. Not simply offer unthinking observance (Lk 14.1-6).

Still in the Pharisees place he observes how they take their seats. People seem to be going out of their way to take the places of honour. Closer to the head of the table I guess. But Jesus sees how this can backfire on some. If they take too high a place and someone more esteemed by the owner can replace them, forcing them to the end of the table because all the other seats are filled. Jesus reverses the normal logic. Sit at the back, in the lowest seat. That way they will be honoured by all as the owner elevates them to a better position in front of them (Lk 14.7-11).

In today’s passage, Jesus is still in the Pharisee’s house, causing a stir.

After all this would you invite Jesus into your house?

12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Lk 14:12–14)

Jesus’ has been invited into the Pharisees place. Normally people invite their friends, families and neighbors to come over and eat. Many do this with the hope the favor will be returned and in some way they will be repaid for their good will and effort. How they are repaid is not mentioned.

Jesus turns the logic of this upside down. He recommends people invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind over for the feast. They have no hope of being able to return the favor. They are also the people who have never experienced this kindness before. Jesus’ shows again he has a heart for the poor and needy.

Who would you invite over for dinner?

Jesus says, ‘You will be blessed because they cannot repay you’. The blessing is evident by what he says next. ‘You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just’. It’s evident Jesus believes God rewards those who look after the poor and needy. He will graciously return the favor to them in the future judgment, where the righteous will be resurrected.

15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Lk 14:15)

Overhearing what Jesus’ said about who to invite to dinner and the resurrection of the just, someone rejoices in the kingdom to come. What he says is true, but Jesus takes issues with it. So he shares another parable.

16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’

19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’

20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ (Lk 14:16–20)

All the people initially invited refuse to come.

Each of these people may have had legitimate reasons for not coming. But in each they show where their priorities lie. The banquet comes second.

21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’

22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. (Lk 14:21–23)

The master angered from their refusal now invites the poor and crippled and blind and lame from their own country. The people in Jesus’ estimation cannot repay them back (Lk 14.13-14).

There’s still more room so he commands his servant to go further afield. He goes to the ‘highways and hedges’ to get more.

The master wants to fill his house with all manner of people.

24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’ ” (Lk 14:24)

In today’s passage, Jesus begins giving the Pharisee advice on who to invite to his table. I suspect he is concerned the Pharisee never looks out for the poor and needy. If this is true the Pharisee has a problem.

Jesus’ tells the parable describing how the master responded to the rejection of all the people he invited. The master invites the poor, the needy and more from outside the city.

About Jesus

The incident reveals again that Jesus has a heart for the poor and needy. He judges those who ignore them and do not show them any concern.

Jesus’ parable describes the people who rejected the master’s invitation. These are the Jews, perhaps like the Pharisee, who do not accept Jesus as the promised Christ. The parable also anticipates that God will welcome the poor, the needy and the outcasts into his kingdom.

Jesus once said to the religious authorities,

“Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.” (Mt 21.31-32)

Even after people like these were welcomed to the feast, the number of positions still was not filled. The servant had to go out still more. The parable anticipates the inclusion of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.