Good Monday Morning!
Luke 14:15 – 24
One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”
The setting is still the dinner at the house of a Pharisee, on the Sabbath. One of the dinner guests responds to Jesus’ words about humility and hospitality – inviting those who cannot possibly repay – with a comment he thinks is safe, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Perhaps there were other comments around the table, but this is the one Luke tells us about, because it is the one to which Jesus responds. And Jesus responds with a parable.
A man was giving a banquet, and he had invited many people. But he had not given them a specific day and time; the custom at the time was that the host would take as much time as necessary to prepare the banquet, and then would send for his guests. The problem was, this man’s guests began to make excuses. One was going to inspect a new property, another was trying out a team of oxen, still another had just been married. The dinner had sounded like a good idea, but when it came time to attend, they had better things to do. And so, the host sent his servants out to bring in those who would never have been invited to such a dinner, the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. Notice, these are the people Jesus had listed in talking with his host in yesterday’s passage. And when the hall was still not filled, the host sent his servants out again, into the roads and lanes, to bring in more people – for he was determined that none of those who had initially been invited would be admitted.
So, what is Jesus saying in this parable? Is he giving an example of one who invited those whom he had just mentioned (there is the repetition)? We often are quick to say that he is speaking of the great heavenly banquet, and saying that the Jews, because they rejected him, will not be allowed to enter, but that others have been called. That is one way of saying it is about someone else – Pharisees maybe.
Or can it be applied to the Kingdom of God, now? Are we the ones who have been invited, but are too busy with other things in our lives to attend? Were you in worship yesterday? God spread a wondrous banquet there – of music, and word – at our church the choir yesterday morning was just amazing! But some people who had been invited missed the opportunity to hear, because they were busy with other things – life got in the way – their priorities were not with God. That may sound harsh, but isn’t that what Jesus is saying?