The Parable of the Great Supper

Luke 14:16-24 (NASB)

16 But He said to him, “A certain man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; 17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ 19 “And another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ 20 “And another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ 21 “And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 “And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 ‘For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’”

Getting back to our study concerning the growth of the Kingdom of God, we must take a refresher course. The Kingdom of God has reference to the domain of Jesus Christ in physical and/or spiritual form. The Kingdom of God (Heaven) can reflect the current time as well as the future, or both. The kingdom of God can deal with Heaven now or in the future, or it can be talking about the Church of God, which is His kingdom.

All citizens of God's kingdom are appointed to watch out and work for the welfare of the Kingdom at large. To work hard, to labor vigorously, even to die if necessary, for the common good of the kingdom.

Once again we will look at a parable of Jesus concerning the kingdom of Heaven. As discussed prior to this, Jesus needed to explain things of a spiritual nature in a language that people could understand. Also, at that time, the Kingdom had not come, and most remained a mystery. A mystery that would soon be made manifest. So the things of a spiritual nature by which none of us have experienced, can only be explained by things we have experienced in this life and can reasonably put into colorful descriptive language.

How would you explain the color blue to a blind person?

How could you explain the shape of a particular object without some references. You can't. So we have to describe these things by things we do understand, know, and see.

Let's break down this parable and see it's components and characters. Let us see how they inter-relate and act, and also how they are viewed by the orator.

"A certain man" has reference to Diety. We see every characteristic of God, Jesus Christ, and The Holy Spirit portrayed by this person and what they do.

The big dinner or great supper has reference to the marriage feast of the Lamb that we read about in the book of Revelation.

The idea that many were invited almost seems to indicate that everyone was invited, but I think this case does not mean that. We know that God is not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. We know that God gave His Son to the world so that the world (all of humanity) might be saved. We know that Christ died for all men. We know that everyone has been invited into heaven. But as we notice, in this case, everyone is not invited as we have indicatation that there were only three invitees, or that there were three different kinds of excuses given. It is after they who had been invited,and declined, that others were invited.

This very well must deal with those who are invited into the Kingdom. Those who by obedience of the Gospel have consecrated themselves to God's service, and have earned the right to be called Sons of God. Those whom were for-ordained to an adoption as sons and an inheritance incorruptable.

"at the dinner hour" is an expression that the time has come. We will see in this context that the time came when it was least expected. Had these people been ready, they would not have had to offer their excuses. "Of that day and hour, no man knoweth, save the Father in heaven above"

"he sent his slave to say "come; for everything is ready now"". God has been sending his servants to mankind to advise them that judgement was at hand for everyone. We know that each shall give an account, and that all must stand before the judgement seat of Christ. But everyone who has ever lived, faces their judgement at the moment of their death. Abraham, Peter, Paul, and us today face the same time frame towards eternity----the end of our lives. Point is that we must always be ready.

These people were not prepared. They were not ready. Had they been prepared (like the five wise virgins) they would have been brought to the feast and placed in the seats of highest honor. Had they been prepared, they would not have burdened themselves down with the physical things of this world. They were caught off guard and they "all alike began to make excuses". Notice these excuses.

"I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it;" This is a lame excuse. Who do you know who ever bought a piece of land without inspecting it first? We read of several people. Jeremiah was one. Soloman owned so much territory that he could not possible have inspected it all. In a way, Judas purchased a field without first inspecting it. Today, people do it all the time. Things like time-share, and for investment purposes, and buying property from someone else. So if they had bought this sight unseen, a few more hours would not have made any difference and they could have attended the feast.

"I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out;" This is another lame excuse. Once again we notice a person buying something untested or unproved. This is not logical and we would not be guilty of such, or would we? Fingerhut, JCPenny Catalog, QVC? Also, notice that we have offered the dinner hour. Most dinner hours are at night or at least late evening. Should not the new owner of these oxen wait until morning and daylight to test them out. A few hours will not make that much of a difference.

"I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come". This is the lamest excuse of all. For the most part, a marriage involves planning and arrangements. This person could have arranged to have the wedding at a different time. Even if the time was unknown, would not a bridegroom be proud to go and show off his new wife? It would also afford her an opportunity to share in the feast.

We also have to notice that the first two were semi-polite by saying "please, consider me excused" Telling this to the slave does not really excuse one from going. Only the master or the inviter has that decision to excuse you or not.

The last person flat out said "I cannot come" [more like "will not come"] upon giving his reason. Thinking that all would be acceptable, but once again, we see that not even an apology is offered for their absence.

As the servant returns to tell the Lord that those, who had been invited, had more pressing things to do. The wrath of the head of the household became angry. Wouldn't you?

"Alright now", said the master, "if those people think they have better things to do, let them alone, but my seats will not remain empty. I will fill them with others who will appreciate a good meal" This is paraphrasing the text to show the extreme dis-pleasure that the master had. Offer to the common man the opportunity for the feast, they will show their appreciation by their attendance.

Notice, the parallel to the nation of Israel whom God had set up for a great nation and land and name. When God called upon them to serve him, they turned to other interest. As a result, the new kingdom would be available to all peoples of every nation. The Jews of Jesus' day would also be paralled by this parable. The fact that the Jews rejected the Gospel, and Paul took his message to the Gentiles is proof that this is not a meaningless parable.

Even when those who would come have come, there is still room in God's kingdom. There is room for you and me and all who would desire to be there and be willing to meet the requirements. God wants His house (or kingdom) full of those who display a desire to be there. But, for those who have other things to do, there is no room for them. Their invitation has been revoked. It has been removed. The door is closed to them, and like the five foolish virgins, they will be denied entrance with the statement "I never knew you"

I think that this parable has application for us today. I believe that we are the ones who are invited to the feast. I believe that all people who have obeyed the Gospel and are Christians are the invitees to this supper. I know that not everyone who has become a christian remains faithful and thus allow temporal and physical things to get in their way.

The temporal things are represented by land, possessions, and family. Jesus said that we must forsake all (including wealth,possessions and family) for His name's sake.

Land represents wealth that is permanent, because the land is always there. Now there are some properties that lose value, but by and large most property is stable in it's value. Possessions are things which we want which we do not necessarily need. These possessions can hinder us in our duty to God. They can take our time (away from the Lord). They can take our money (away from the Lord). And they can take our faith (away from the Lord). Our families and the relationships that result cause more distress for God's people than any other problems. Jesus said that we must make our families our enemies if necessary in order to carry our cross. We have historical proof that unfaithful spouses cause the apostasy of the faithful. Rarely do we see the opposite.

Abraham was told to leave his family whom, we are told later, worshiped strange gods. Rachel caused dissention when she stole her fathers idols. The children of Israel brought idols and gods from egypt and shortly made their own. The moabites introduced idol worship to those in the wilderness. The canaanites introduced idol worship to the Israelites in the promised land. Solomon was guilty of idolatry because of his wives. Jezebel had Ahaz build many objects of false god worship. Somehow even Ananias and Saphirra helped each other to lie to the Holy Spirit.

We must be prepared to go, when he calls. He will call when we least expect it, and we will have no time to think about it or have any hope of changing the time to work into our schedule. We must be like the disciples who left their nets lying on the ground to follow the master.

We must live our lives in preparation so that our invitation is not revoked and terminated. Because as Revelation says "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb" 19:9. There is an open invitation to all to be placed on the invitees list. Those who obey the Gospel are invited. But only those who come, at the appropiate time, will be allowed into the feast.

May we not let anything get in our way to respond to the great invitation our Lord has offered.

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