Faith in  Christ   leads to action



            Jesus illuminates understanding about the kingdom of God by telling the parable of the great dinner. Many were invited, and when it was time for the dinner, the one giving the dinner sent his slave to notify everyone that they should come, for everything was ready. “Jesus’ story assumes the extension of double invitations, a practice rooted in pragmatic needs of more than one sort.”[1] For one thing, knowing how many persons accepted the first invitation allowed the host to plan for how many guests to prepare for. In addition, the guests, with advance notice, would be ready to go to the dinner when the second invitation is made. At this point in the parable, the process of hosting a banquet is proceeding according to the expected procedure.

            The plot then takes an unexpected turn when invited guests made excuses and reversed their acceptance of the earlier invitation. “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets’” (Lk 14:18 NRSV). This excuse seems preposterous—someone buying land would inspect it before buying it, unless there were extenuating circumstances. The second excuse, trying out newly purchased oxen, is equally outlandish, for no one would buy oxen without knowing their abilities. The third excuse, just married, seems more plausible than the first two. If the newly married man were going to battle, he would have a legitimate excuse according to Deuteronomy 20:7 and 24:5. However, no such requirement is mentioned in the parable. As it is, the excuses are shallow (as presumably other unstated excuses are as well), and the number of guests, which had been many, is drastically reduced, possibly to none. No wonder the master became angry.

            The next turn in the parable is the master’s order: “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame” (Lk 14:21 NRSV). We recognize that these are the same groups of people whom Jesus told the host to invite in verse 13. Listeners and readers of the parable would be keenly interested in the outcome.

[1] Green, Gospel, 558.

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Jesus told the parable of the great banquet (or the great dinner) while at a meal at the home of a Pharisee. The parable portrays how the kingdom of God includes people who are downtrodden – the Pharisees had dismissed such people. The parable is in the context of humility (Luke 14:11).

The Parable of the Great Banquet