Luke 14: 15 – 24 The parable of the great banquet
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.’
Jesus replied: ‘A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, “Come, for everything is now ready.”
‘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.”
‘Another said, “I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.”
‘Still another said, “I have just got married, so I can’t come.”
‘The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, “Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.”
‘ “Sir,” the servant said, “what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.”
‘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. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.” ’
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I’ll be honest; my first thought on reading this was to wonder what was wrong with the host. Why did so many people make excuses rather than go to his banquet? I wonder, though, whether I ask that question because I don’t properly appreciate the cultural milieu in which the parable was told. Rich and influential people used to hold banquets to display their wealth, to define the social circle in which they moved and to establish bonds of social obligation. It wouldn’t necessarily be much fun attending such a function.
But, hang on a minute. Jesus is telling a parable about the heavenly banquet. That’s the best possible experience I could have, isn’t it?
Think again, Penny.
Why would anyone turn down an invitation to the heavenly banquet?
Because of a failure of imagination? Hm-hm; possibly.
Because of a failure of faith? That’s closer, I think.
Because of a failure to appreciate the reality of my spiritual state and the significance of Jesus? That feels about right.
No matter how I feel about myself, spiritually I’m actually poor, crippled, blind and lame. I need Jesus. However, it’s only when I recognise my need that I can recognise God’s invitation for what it is. It’s food for the starving.
This parable is saying that until we realise we are starving, we will make excuses for not accepting God’s gift. It’s oh-so-easy to be like the Pharisees present when Jesus told this parable. There are many things that can distract us.
But God is offering his invitation now. It’s free. There’s nothing I can bring. I can’t offer anything in exchange; indeed, I daren’t offer anything, for to do so would be to try to purchase the most generous free gift ever given.
All I can do is say, “Thank you, Lord. I accept your invitation.”
My heart, my life, is yours.
Thank you for your free gift of salvation. Thank you for Jesus.
Lord Jesus, please help me to feel you close to me every day.
In Jesus’ name, Amen