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10. The Great Supper

The Passage:
Luke 14:15-24

The Parameters

    Remote Context

The Pharisees had just been critical of Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath and Jesus had noticed their haughty, self-seeking attitudes at the dinner.

In the OT and other Jewish writings there are several references to dinning at a great banquet with the Messiah in his kingdom.

  • Isa 25:6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
  • 3 Enoch - says, “At once Israel shall be saved from among the gentiles and the Messiah shall appear to them and bring them up to Jerusalem with great joy. Moreover, the kingdom of Israel, gathered from the four quarters of the world, shall eat with the Messiah, and the gentiles shall eat with them...”
  • In Matt 8:11 after commending a gentile for his faith, Jesus says, I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

The Jews looked forward to the day when Messiah would set up his kingdom and part of the festivities would include a great banquet with the Messiah.

So the people hearing this parable about a great banquet would immediately identify what Jesus was talking about. He was talking about the Kingdom.

The host of a banquet sent out two invitations. An original invitation in advance and then a second invitation to notify that “dinner was served.”

    Immediate Context

In the preceding context to this parable Jesus had noticed the proud, self-seeking attitudes of the guests at the dinner he was attending. He told them not to seat themselves in the places of honor but to leave that to the host, otherwise, they would be shamed when they had to move. Last week we saw the relationship between pride and shame. I think that the principle we learned last week is applicable here.

He also tells them, that when they themselves give a banquet, they should only invite those guests who cannot repay. I’ve heard Dr. Pentecost say numerous times in his class on the life of Christ that hospitality was a sign of righteousness. When you invite those who can repay, your motives are wrong and it is not righteousness. So, I’m sure that is related to our discussion.

The Problem

Someone comments that those who eat bread in the kingdom will be blessed. Who is it that will eat bread in the kingdom of God? The Pharisees thought that only they would make it into the kingdom and certainly not the outcasts of society. The outcasts were not at this dinner, nor would they be at the dinner table of the kingdom.

The Progression: Biographical

    The Host

He was giving a big dinner which indicated he was wealthy. He had an original “dinner list” of people whom he invited.

What you may not realize is one of the cultural practices of that time, when a man was going to give a banquet, he sent out an invitation weeks or months in advance. If it was a marriage banquet, the invitations went out soon after the betrothal - almost a year in advance. The events in the parable assume that the advance invitation has been given and the 1st invitation we read about is really not the first.

    The Original Guests

The original quests all made lame excuses and could not / or would not come to the dinner.

      Excuse #1

This man was concerned with financial investments.

      Excuse #2

This man was preoccupied with his business.

      Excuse #3

This man was preoccupied with family matters.

    The Replacement Guests

The host invited anyone who wanted to come and filled his house so that there was no room for the original guests.

The Point

God graciously invites all to come to Him (1)1, but many are self-satisfied and preoccupied with their own lives and miss out on the invitation (2), and only those who are aware of their inadequacy will accept the invitation (3).

The Relation of the Parable to the Kingdom of God

The original guests represent the nation Israel, and the poor, lame, etc. represent the Gentiles and those outside “the system.” The Host (God) offered the kingdom to Israel, but they rejected the offer. So the kingdom was given to the Gentiles and the outcasts of Israel who would accept it.

The Particulars

The self-seeking guests of the preceding section (14:7-11) would not even be allowed to attend the dinner by the end of the parable.

The class distinctions made in Israel (discussed in parable of good Samaritan) are appropriate here. The original guests would be the inner three circles - Priests, Levites and “Joseph Jew.” The outer circles would be the replacement guests.

The traditional double invitation would refer to the OT prophets prediction of Messiah and the Kingdom and Jesus’ claim to be Messiah and announcement of the kingdom.

References to poor and crippled and blind and lame sound like Isa 61:1-2.

There was more than enough room for all the outcasts, but no room for the original guests who refused the invitation.

The dinner went ahead as scheduled. It was not postponed. Could this mean that the kingdom was not postponed?

Dispensational Explanation

  • The prophets gave advance invitation to the Jewish nation. They predicted the coming Messiah and his kingdom. Isa 40:3
  • John the Baptist’s announcement of the arrival of Messiah and Jesus’ claim to be Messiah and His announcement that the kingdom was at hand was the 1st invitation. Both John and Jesus quote from Isa 40:3 What was the Jewish response? - They rejected the Messiah and his offer to come into the kingdom (i.e. banquet)
  • The Disciples gave 2nd/3rd invitation- Acts 3: Only the outcast Jews and Gentiles responded. References to poor and crippled and blind and lame sound like Isa 61:1-2.
  • Banquet in the Millenium.

The Principles

For Unbelievers:

  • The original guests missed out because they were preoccupied with their own lives. The things they were concerned with were legitimate, but should not have dominated their lives. We need to be sure we are not doing the same thing.
  • What is your response to the invitation? What might happen if we put off accepting the invitation? What happened to the ones who made excuses in the parable? They didn’t get to go to the banquet at all. Principle: Those who reject God in this life will not get a second chance.
  • If you haven’t responded, what is hindering you? What are some reasons people put off accepting the invitation?

    Pride - like the 1st group of invitees?

    New Field = Materialism

    New Oxen = Business

    New Wife = Family

For Believers:

  • If you have responded, what is you attitude towards those less fortunate than you? Don’t be proud if you are on the inside. You are only inside because others refused the invitation. This is not denying the sovereignty of God, but Paul himself says this in Rom 11:11&18.
  • What is God’s attitude towards sinners? --towards us, even in our sin? God is pursuing us. What was the attitude of the host? What should your attitude be towards the social outcasts? In the parable just before ours, Jesus said that when we throw a party, we should not invite those who can reciprocate. Instead, invite only those who cannot pay you back. Who are the ones who attend the banquet? They are the poor, lame, blind, etc.
  • If God invites you and me to dinner, what does that say about us? What does this say about you if you have responded? What is our “social” status? Could we return the favor? We are outcasts. We don’t need to worry about being good enough to be there. No one is. Principle: Just as the replacement guests could not reciprocate and were the recipients of grace, so we also are recipients of the grace of God.

1 The numbers correspond to the three character types in the parable and the three parts of the central truth.

Related Topics: Dispensational / Covenantal Theology