Summary: “The Parable of the Great Banquet” tells us three things about the wonderful invitation of God.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 39
“When Jesus Invites You To Dinner”
Jesus was in the middle of a Sabbath dinner that had grown more and more tense. The tension had grown from the moment that Jesus had entered the room. The tension had escalated when he had healed a man suffering from a physical ailment, then silenced his critics by exposing their tendency toward judgmentalism, pride and selfishness. By now the tension must have been almost unbearable. It was then that someone in the room blurted out, (v.15) “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” He tells the man who posed the question and all who were listening, “If you do not accept the invitation that is being given to you right now, you may find the door to kingdom shut in your face.” Jesus now delivers “The Parable of the Great Banquet” to expose the true motivation and the desires of those who thought they had it made.
Note with me three things about this wonderful invitation of God.
1. GOD IS THE ONE EXTENDING THE INVITATION (vv.16-17)
“. . . A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, (17) and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, "Come, for all things are now ready.’
The “certain man” of this story represents God. It is interesting that this man representing God is preparing a great banquet or party. God many times is presented as a tyrant who is stern and demanding, and that following God means a joyless existence. If you look at many believers, you would think that the Christian life was a fast, a funeral or a famine. Yet if you consider how God is constantly presented in the Bible, we come to understand that this is a false view, a distortion of the truth. In Isaiah 55 God invites his people to not seek that, which does not satisfy but come to His table and “eat what is good, And let your soul delight in abundance” (v. 2).
In the New Testament in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) he is the father who throws a party to celebrate the return of his son. In the book of Revelation John tells us of the great party that God has waiting for his people called the “Great Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9-10).
The “great supper” of this parable is a lavish spectacular image of life in the kingdom of heaven. It is not just a meal it is described as a “great” literally “mega” banquet. “Jesus called it a ‘great supper’ because it was planned and executed out of great love, it met a great need and it cost a great price.” [Warren Wiersbe Windows on the Parables. p. 94]
In New Testament times two invitations were usually given to a party or a banquet. The first was given well in advance telling the date and time so that people could make plans to attend and then when everything was ready for the party to begin the servants were again sent out telling everyone, “come for all things are now ready” (v. 17). The custom made perfect sense in the days when there were no telephones or even watches or the conveniences for preparing a huge meal.
In Israel’s history God’s first invitation came through Moses and the prophets and the second came through His son (Hebrews 1:1-2).
God Is The One Extending the Invitation but
2. GOD’S INVITATION CAN BE REFUSED
Since the invitation is “come” (v.17) it is suggestive of the responsibility a person has to act on God’s gracious invitation. You might expect that everyone would enthusiastically respond to the invitation. But that is not the case. Three of those who had previously accepted opted out of coming to the banquet. Each of these individuals considers that he has a good excuse. These people do not reject the invitation because they were involved in bad activities. These people simply thought they had other more important things to do. Most of the people today who reject God’s gracious invitation do not do so because they are involved in some kind of gross immorality. They are just too involved in the everyday affairs of life and too busy to think seriously about spiritual things.
The excuses are given beginning in verse eighteen, “But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, "I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ (19) And another said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ (20) Still another said, "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”