Summary: At the very heart of the parable is who will be found in the Kingdom of God. It has to do with those who will respond positively to their invitation to accept Jesus, God’s great invitation to salvation.
LUKE 14: 12-16-24 [PARABLES IN LUKE]
While attending a dinner party at a Pharisees’ house (vv. 1, 7, 12) Jesus challenges the guests to live and work so they will be rewarded in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus then gives a parable about a banquet that alludes to the great messianic feast that occurs at the end of the age. [The parable is about an invitation to the kingdom of God illustrated as a great festival or party.] He says that the King is throwing an elaborate and festive banquet to which He invites guests. God invites us to enjoy His presence forever and ever, feasting and celebrating with Him, yet many will make excuses instead of accepting His gracious invitation.
[This Great Banquet is a biblical metaphor for the kingdom of God. [Compare the parable in Matthew 22:1–14.] . When Jesus approaches this subject, He participates in a conversation that had begun over seven hundred years earlier (Psalm 23:5; Isaiah 25:6-9).] At the very heart of the parable is who will be found in the Kingdom of God. It has to do with those who will respond positively to their invitation to accept Jesus, God’s great invitation to salvation (CIM).
I. DINNER PARTY CONVERSATIONS, 12-15.
II. BANQUET INVITATION EXCUSES, 16-20.
III. COMPELLING INVITATIONS, 21-24.
[Background] This whole section concerns instructions pertaining to invitations for banquets. When Jesus was invited to the home of a prominent religious leader, He offered this unsolicited advice concerning invitations for banquets in Luke 14:12-14. “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor your rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
So Jesus advised us, “Don’t only invite people who can do something for you—who can pay you back, include you in their circle, or return your invitation. When you give a dinner party, it is better invite the nobodies.” Luke’s lists the fringe people as the poor, maimed, lame, and blind, which is repeated in the next story is his list of kingdom people. [That has been clear since Mary’s song (1:46-55)].
Now notice the words, “you will be repaid at the resurrection.” Jesus’ declaration is that God will repay you for some things after you're dead. This contradicts what many of us believe - that God rewards us mainly on earth. No, these words show that when you do a worthy deed for someone who cannot repay you: One, you will be repaid by God, and two, the real reward will come in the next life.
If you fail to understand this timing you'll find yourself saying: "I serve God faithfully, so why am I struggling? Doesn't God notice or care?" Friend, God notices and God cares! But He doesn't promise that work for Him now will always result in gain from Him now. Many [most] of the rewards God has for us are so great, it'll take eternity to appreciate and enjoy them!
Jesus said, "Whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name. . . will by no means lose his reward" (Mk 9:41 NIV). No deed for God will be overlooked or go unrewarded not even a cup of cold water, or a prayer in the middle of the night. When you do things God’s way, at the appropriate time He will repay you. God records and will reward “at the resurrection of the righteous.” Will you trade momentary ease or prominence here for eternal reward and glory there?
At the mention of the Resurrection a dinner guest reclining at the table with Jesus becomes excited. He said to Jesus and the other guests in verse 15, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
To “eat bread in the kingdom of God” is a reference to the eschatological messianic banquet. The person who makes this statement wants to invoke Jesus' views on the topic of the coming kingdom of God and the Messiah who is to inaugurate that kingdom. At the end of history the final fulfillment of that kingdom was understood to include a great banquet with the Messiah, known as "the messianic banquet." The person's outburst is a challenge for Jesus to express His views on that topic, and possible to change the uncomfortable topic of reaching out to the down and out.
[Those around the table would expect Jesus to say something such as, "Yes, let’s keep the law so precisely that when that great day comes, we will be counted worthy to sit with the Messiah and all true believers at his banquet.” Bailey, Kenneth. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. 2008. InterVarsity Press, Dover Grove, IL. p.309]