Summary: We examine the lost opportunity in Luke 14:12-24 and see what it teaches us about the amazing grace of God.
One Sabbath, while on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem, Jesus was invited to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees. While there, Jesus healed a man of dropsy (Luke 14:1-6). Then Jesus told them all the parable of the wedding feast to illustrate the necessity of humility to enter the kingdom of God (Luke 14:7-11).
As soon as he had finished telling the parable of the wedding feast, Jesus told his host whom he should invite to a dinner or banquet. Then Jesus told another parable, the one we know as the parable of the great banquet.
Let’s read the parable of the great banquet in Luke 14:12-24:
12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’ ” (Luke 14:12-24)
Like most couples preparing for a wedding, Dave Best and his fiancée were probably worried about whether or not everyone would show up on time for the ceremony on July 6, 2008. They didn’t need to worry about their friend Dave Barclay, though. He was so excited about the wedding that he showed up a year early!
When Dave Best emailed Dave Barclay, telling him about the July 6 wedding in Wales, Barclay assumed Best meant July 6, 2007. So Barclay bought a plane ticket from Toronto for $1,000. When he landed in Wales, he called Best to get details about the location of the venue for the ceremony. It was only then that Barclay discovered he was a year ahead of schedule.
After a year, Barclay gave it another try. He said, “At least it assured me a mention in the wedding speech!”
We smile at the mistake that this guest made. However, in Jesus’ day the problem was not about showing up too early. Jesus constantly warned people about a late arrival or not even bothering to show up at all. The parable of the great banquet illustrates lost opportunity and the amazing grace of God.
Let us examine the lost opportunity as set forth in Luke 14:12-24 and see what it teaches us about the amazing grace of God.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. Rewarded Hospitality (14:12-14)
2. Hopeful Remark (14:15)
3. Gracious Invitation (14:16-17)
4. Feeble Excuses (14:18-20)
5. Wider Invitation (14:21-23)
6. Dreadful Exclusion (14:24)
I. Rewarded Hospitality (14:12-14)
First, observe the rewarded hospitality.
Jesus was at a Sabbath dinner party that had become very intense. Jesus healed a man with dropsy, who most likely had been planted by the Pharisees. But Jesus challenged them to know that God permits deeds of mercy on the Sabbath day.
Then Jesus rebuked the dinner guests for seeking seats of honor. He told them the parable of the wedding feast to illustrate the necessity of humility to enter the kingdom of God.
Then Jesus turned his attention to the host. He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid” (14:12). In Jesus’ day proper etiquette required reciprocating dinner invitations. Now, Jesus was not saying that we should never have a meal with friends or relatives or neighbors. He himself did so on a number of occasions. Jesus was opposed to quid pro quo relationships, that is, you do something for me, and I will do something for you.