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THE PARABLE OF THE GREAT BANQUET

Luke 14:15-14:24
Key Verse: 14:17

In the last lesson we have seen a dinner feast of a prominent Pharisee. The feast was a party just for their own satisfaction without caring for a man with dropsy and a party for evil purpose in order to accuse Jesus. And in the feast there was internal quarrel among the guests to have a better seat of honour. Most unfortunately they rejected Jesus’ invitation to the heavenly banquet in the kingdom of God.

In this passage Jesus teaches us a parable of the great banquet which is contrast with Pharisee’s feast. Jesus invites sinners and the gentiles to the heavenly banquet so that they can taste God’s blessing. Through the parable we may be able to listen to his invitation and come to taste the banquet.

Part. I The banquet is now ready

Jesus was at the Pharisee’s house. In the previous passage Jesus taught the Pharisee that when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind so that you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. Then one of those at the table spoke up. Look at verse 15. “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.” “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God”. Why did he say this? It seems that he was trying to change the topic. But according to Jesus’ parable his saying implies more than that. At that time Jewish people believed that when the Messiah comes, there will be a great banquet and they can only participate in the banquet, but sinners and the Gentiles cannot come in. So his words is actually to criticize Jesus who welcomes sinners and the Gentiles. And he flaunted himself that he will take part in the feast.

Then Jesus teaches him a parable to think if he is truly eligible to participate in the banquet. Let us look at verse 16. 16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests.” A certain man was preparing a great banquet. And he already sent the decorated invitation card to the potential guests. They all responded ‘Yes, I will come!’ Based on the number of the guests, he assessed the total cost and prepared the best appropriate place and many animals for the meals: chicken, sheep, and calves, and bread, vegetable, and drink, and even sea food. He also planned a wonderful reception program for the guests. Soccer game was set for men, so was a conversation time for women. Here in verse 16 we can easily guess that a lot of cost and huge sacrifice must be paid for the banquet. We can also see the heart of the owner for the guests that how much he considered each guest to be satisfied through his banquet.

Why did he prepare the great banquet? Based on verse 24b, what he really wanted is for the guests to taste his banquet. It is not only to taste all kinds of delicious food, but to taste his grace and mercy, to taste his forgiveness and freedom, comfort and encouragement. He wanted to share with them his joy and delight. For the perfect fellowship each other he worked hard until everything is ready.

Look at verse 17. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ Finally everything is ready. He sent his servant to tell them to come to the banquet, expecting everyone who was invited will come to the feast.

Here the man refers to God and the great banquet to the banquet in the kingdom of God. And those who had been invited represent his chosen people, the Jews. This is the historical fact. God had delivered them from the slavery in Egypt. And he gave his words and trained them to live as God’s chosen people. God invited them to his kingdom and they responded the invitation with gratitude. He reminded them of his kingdom by sending many prophets. When the time came and everything was ready, God sent his one and only son Jesus to bring them to his heavenly kingdom. “The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.” (Mk1:15)

Part. II The invitees are not ready

What was their response to the servant’s final invitation? They blindly rejected the invitation by making many excuses. Let us look at verses 18-20. 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.’ The first has just bought a field, and he wanted to go and see it. He valued seeing his field more important than attending the banquet. We partly understand him. When you buy a real estate like a house, or buy a new car or new device like laptop or HD TV, you must be excited. You cannot wait for try, but you can do it later for more important thing. He can go and see the field after the banquet because he already owns it. The second has just bought five yoke of oxen, and he is on the way to try them out. Of course, they must be tested, but he can also do it later. He cared for his five yoke, disregarding the inviter’s preparation and sacrifice. Another one just got married, so he said he can’t come. When he had accepted the invitation, he would have already known of his wedding plan. He could have refused beforehand. But at the last minute he rejected. It is very rude and insulting out of carelessness. The 29th of April, 2011 was the royal wedding day of Prince Willliam with Kate Middleton. It is reported that the overall cost of the event was £20 million, in CAD $38 million. The bride’s wedding dress costed $434,000. And $800,000 was paid for flowers. Many royal families, politicians, celebrities, and noble guests were invited including PM Stephen Harper. Did he attend the ceremony? No! His name is on the list of the people who declined the invitation. Just three days after the wedding was the Canadian federal election. Because of this he was blamed by many people. He put the priority on his party. Anyways, these are three typical examples of people’s rejection towards God’s invitation. They were too engrossed in their own worldly lives.

They might have thought that the banquet is no better than their work, business and family. Perhaps they might be satisfied and found joy in doing what they used to do. But it is temporary and will soon be found nothing and they will recognize they will be mourned outside the kingdom of God. They didn’t know that the banquet gives full satisfaction more than they expected. If they attended, they would taste God’s blessing in the banquet.

Part. III The banquet will be full

Look at verse 21. 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.’ When the servant reported to him, the owner of the house became angry because they ignored him and broke their promises to him. So did he cancel the banquet out of anger? No! He wanted to complete his banquet and decided to invite other people. “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.”

The owner invited the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame instead of the proud and rich in spirit. They are those who accept the invitation with great joy. They are needy people who are in difficulties, sufferings and unfortunate circumstances in life. And they are also undeserving people like sinners such as tax collectors and prostitutes. When we look at Luke 15:1, it says that the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. They were humble and poor in spirit and ready to come to the banquet when invited. Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew, one of 12 disciples, was a tax collector, well-known as one of the worst sinners at that time. When Jesus saw him sitting at the tax collector’s booth, he invited him saying “Follow me!” Then he got up and followed Jesus immediately. He accepted the invitation thankfully because he knew that he is a sinner who do not deserve God’s grace. When Jesus invited Samaritan woman who has had five husbands, she accepted Jesus as her personal messiah, the true object of her worship. They both were ready to come in the banquet.

Let us look at verse 22. 22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ The servant has diligently brought them into the master’s house. However, there was 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. God’s banquet hall is very big and his house has many rooms. So the invitations went out beyond the borders, into the world. We belong to this third invitation. This reminds us that we are invited by God’s grace alone. It is by God’s grace that we can taste God’s all blessings: forgiveness of sins, restoration of the relationship with God, fellowship with our God in eternity.

I was also one of the people out of the town, without knowing God, just living in this world, struggling for a better position and better human recognition. My heart was full of greed and lust, hatred and hostility. By God’s grace the invitation to his kingdom was given to me. This was the first time in my life to taste his unconditional love which was totally different from that of the world. His grace melted away all my sins and transgressions, and his grace led me into new life in Jesus. I couldn’t but give thanks to God for his forgiveness and salvation grace. It became the source of my life of faith. Now almost 20 years has passed from that time and so many things have happened, influencing my life of faith, making me ups and downs. Finally he brought me here in this mission land. Here I have newly found myself as a terrible and hopeless sinner before God because of my sin of unbelief of thinking that I am not enough to serve God’s ministry here. In my stubbornness I have rejected God’s invitation for the restoration of the relationship with him. But this passage helped me to remember how wonderful it was to taste his grace and mercy, and also gave me spiritual desire to come to his banquet in my daily life. Lord, have mercy on me to repent of my sins and humbly to accept your invitation to your banquet. I want to listen to your invitation, “Come Moses, for everything is ready for you.” I pray that I may not make excuses, but put the first priority to come to your presence and taste all your blessings.

Look at verse 23 again. “Compel them to come in.” He wants his servant to have his heart desire for the people, so he asked his servant to compel them to come in. Sometimes we are misunderstood when we invite people to Jesus. ‘Compelling’ seems very rude for peoples’ eyes. It happens because they do not know the heart of God as well as the taste of his banquet. It is inevitable. In this way some of them can taste the heavenly banquet. The truth is that those who accept God’s invitation humbly and thankfully can really get the taste of the banquet in God’s kingdom. So we may be able to learn his heart desire by inviting people to his kingdom. “My house will be full”. God really wants to have a full banquet hall in his kingdom with all kinds of thankful people, celebrating together. This is God’s heart. This is God’s hope.

Let’s look at verse 24. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” When Jesus came to this world to invite them to the kingdom of God, the Pharisees and religious leaders rejected the invitation. They considered Jesus as a friend of sinners. They persecuted him and even put him to death. So they did not get the taste of God’s banquet. I pray that we all may accept his invitation to his kingdom and be ready to come in. We are praying for our 2015 SBC to be a spiritual banquet for us to taste God’s blessing. For this let us pray to God for blessing the invitation work.

Let’s read the key verse 17. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

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