Oftentimes, when we host a dinner or party, we have a specific guest list which includes our nearest and dearest, and perhaps a few wild cards whom we find interesting or entertaining. I’m guessing that none of us have a habit of issuing invitations to total strangers, or to people we might assess as needy. Knowing this makes Jesus’ words in today’s passage beyond convicting. While at a dinner party, he gave a few instructions on how to give aparty, and his invite list didn’t include a who’s who list of well-known, well-loved, or wealthy people.
- How does it make you feel to receive an invitation to an event? How do you decide who to include in your most intimate gatherings?
READ THE WORD: LUKE 14:12-24 (ESV)
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.’”
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Verse 12 references a ruler of the Pharisees, who had invited Jesus to dine at his house (vs. 14:1). What point was Jesus making to this religious leader and to those invited guests who were jockeying for the position of honor (vss. 12-14)?
- Jesus’ words in verses 12-14 went further than just giving a lesson in social etiquette; he was speaking about things concerning the coming kingdom of God. What seems to have been the understanding of one guest about the kingdom of God (vs. 15)?
- Note the details in the parable of the great banquet. Who was invited and how did the invitees respond (vss. 16-20)? What were the excuses given for not coming?
- How did the master of the house (the giver of the banquet) react, and what did he instruct his servant to do next (vss. 21-24)?
- What was the master’s desire for the banquet (vs. 23b-24)? If the master of the banquet is God and Jesus is the servant, then where do you see yourself in the parable—as the invitee who makes excuses and refuses God’s generosity, or as the needy person beckoned by Jesus to join the master?
RESPOND TO GOD
Jesus continued to use this dinner as a time of educating people about God’s kingdom. Previously, he had stressed the need for humility (vss. 14:7-11), and here he focused on the true nature of hospitality and blessing. In these verses, he not only expounded further on who could be a part of God’s kingdom, but on the exceedingly gracious heart of God. God gives an invitation for all who will join him, but only those who accept his gracious invitation experience his blessing.
- Thank God for so loving the world that he sent his servant, Jesus, to gather all who will respond to him.
- Ask God with whom you can share this good news today.