Summary: Jesus’ sense of humor shows up in a big way during some awkward dinner table moments, esp. when He talked about people and the excuses they offer. Link included to formatted text, audio, and PowerPoint template.
Parable of the Great Supper
One of the chief Pharisees has invited Jesus over for dinner, and we’re gonna have some fun tonite!
v. 1 “they watched Him” = laid a trap
v. 2 this diseased man was deliberately planted so Jesus would heal him and break the law of the Sabbath. They knew He would…he had 7 times before at least.
But Jesus turned the tables on them and brought the subject up Himself:
v. 3 They were caught. If they said no, they would appear heartless. If they said yes, their legalistic cronies would shun them, so…
v. 4 They shut up and Jesus put up!
v. 5 The spirit of the law, not the letter.
v. 6 All was quiet at the table…and tension was in the air. “Awkward!”
vv. 7-11 are as rich as it gets:
In NT times, the closer you sat to the host, the higher you were on the social ladder, and the more you would be involved in the conversation at the table.
Jesus was commenting on a common scene in those days at dinner time, for the when the dinner bell rang, the guests rant to the table like they hadn’t eaten in weeks, dove for the best seats, and then clung to their spot like stink on a monkey.
Jesus taught them that self-promotion doesn’t lead to fulfillment. It is temporary and incomplete.
v. 11 With God, the way up is down!
Can you imagine the tension now at the table? Jesus has healed a man in the face of their disapproval, then looked the guests straight in the eyes and corrected their manners. Next, He corrects the host:
Vv. 12-14 The atmosphere was tense. I’m sure no one was saying a word, and all you could hear was the sounds of utensils and plates lightly tapping as the group cautiously suffered thru the rest of the meal…that is, until one of them tried to smooth things over with an old cliché:
v. 15 This was one of those pious statements that was made back then, like we say God bless you today but don’t actually ask God to bless them [whoever we are addressing]!
The Lord didn’t let this rascal get by with his old saying…for just as Jesus had answered an invitation to dinner that He knew was not given out of pure motive, He also knew that the others present had come for the wrong reasons as well. So Jesus turned to the man and said what He’d been preparing to say all evening:
vv. 16-17 In Jesus’ day the dinner invitations were given well in advance. Custom was that the host would tell you the day, but not the exact hour. The host needed to know how many were coming so he could butcher the right amount of animals and prepare enough food. Shortly before the feast would begin the host would send out his servants to tell the guests the banquet was ready and it was time to come. This wasn’t the invitation, it was the reminder. Each of the guests had already agreed to attend. They were expected.
Well, God has prepared a great supper for all who will realize that “all things are now ready.” The invitation has already been made, we just need to go out and remind them of the offer. It is an offer made to all, and it is so generous that all are expected to respond. Jesus made all the preparations, but look how most respond to the invitation:
v. 18 Look how glaringly obvious their excuses are:
I mean, who buys property without looking at it first? I’ve had a couple of used cars I’d like to show this guy!
v. 19 Is he gonna strap some headlights to his ox’s horns and try ‘em out at night?
The first man let his possessions be his excuse, then the next let’s business get in the way. It’s true, you gotta make a living, but it is God Himself who will bless you and Who allows you to make a living in the first place!
In 16 years of ministry I’ve sat by many deathbeds, and never has anyone said, “I wish I had worked more, had more, or made or money.” I hope it’s not on your deathbed that you realize that when you are gone, business will go on as usual without you.
v. 20 This third man gives the most lame excuse. He uses his family as his excuse. Hey man, just tell the truth. We all know you are newlyweds, and so it’s quite obvious that my house is the only place you’re gonna get a good meal right now!
Excuses are just dressed up lies. We say, “I have a good excuse.” But there’s no such thing. A ‘good’ excuse is just a ‘good’ lie.