Summary: Jesus launches into a parable about a wedding feast where he is essentially saying that in the kingdom of God the humble are exalted and those who seek to exalt themselves are humbled. It’s an upside down Kingdom from what people are used to. So that’s t
Two weeks ago we looked at the parable of the sower whose main theme was the impact of the world on our hearing and doing of the Word. Last week’s Good Samaritan parable spoke to the fact that real love is action based on compassion. And now this week the main theme is about us realizing our desperation for God’s grace.
Jesus is eating at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees here in Luke 14 and it says they were watching him carefully. We know why they invited Him and Jesus always accepts, he is not intimidated by their tests and questions. Who’s really doing the testing?
He launches into a parable about a wedding feast where he is essentially saying that in the kingdom of God the humble are exalted and those who seek to exalt themselves are humbled. It’s an upside down Kingdom from what people are used to.
So that’s the setting for his next parable that we’ll cover today. The Great Banquet. Now remember this man he is addressing has just invited all his friends and relatives and prestigious guests to this supper and Jesus starts by saying, don’t invite these people to your banquets. He is flat out first insulting the guests who have chosen places of honour at the table, and now the host for inviting these people. These people represent the Israelites, the first of God’s chosen ones.
Jesus was never opposed to offending the religious folks around him. He doesn’t seem to have much grace with the Pharisees because they were the hardest hearted and the ones who should know better, so his tactic with them was to use shock and to stir the feelings of these people even if it was anger. Their hearts were far from God even though they seemed so religious.
If Jesus was a pastor he would probably give some pretty tough messages to those who were in the church, while he would be a little more gentle and patient with those who he preached to outside of the church. This is not a lack of grace but an attempt to ensure that those who claimed his grace and represented God are not dishonouring His name and teaching falsely.
So he says these are the ones you should invite. The poor, and crippled and blind and lame. Why does he say you should invite these outcasts? Because that is when you will be blessed because they cannot repay you. These guys had a tendency to invite people who would raise their social status and reciprocate so they could be seen at the banquets of these people who had even higher status than them.
But for Jesus it was all about the Kingdom, eternal life, the life to come. And he is constantly exhorting all of us to live this life for that reality as well. To him, any benefit or status you can get in this life on earth is paled in comparison to what you will get later from the Father. He lived every minute with his eyes on that reality. This is something that is very difficult for us to do.
So how do you think the Pharisee host and his distinguished guests are feeling right now? They’re insulted and probably pretty angry. And this is when one of the guests at the table barges in with a very strange comment. After he heard these things, he said “Blessed is everyone who eats bread in the kingdom of God”. What’s this guy doing? Some say it is just a statement of ignorance about how to get into the Kingdom of God, but I think it’s a direct test, because it doesn’t fit with what Jesus just said.