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            The parable intensifies even more by the master’s order: “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled” (Lk 14:23 NRSV). The order seeks people outside the town, beyond the limits of the earlier order. Not only will the poor and disadvantaged be invited to the dinner, so will travelers and strangers. What an unusual outcome for a story! The motivation of the master is key: he wants his house filled and will go to great lengths to see it done. “In Jesus’ earlier words, he has invited those who cannot repay him, from whom he has nothing to gain by way of enhanced prestige or monetary enhancements. He has participated in the creation of a new social order in which the boundaries that normally exclude people like himself from people like them are rendered inconsequential.”[1] Indeed this describes Jesus’ ministry, extending the invitation of the kingdom of God to the marginalized and those outside traditional Jewish understanding. An expansive concept of inviting people to know the grace of God was the mission of the early church and is the mission of the church today.

            The parable ends with a seemingly harsh saying by Jesus. “For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner” (Lk 14:24 NRSV). Jesus’ teaching of the parable has increasingly diverged from the circumstances of the actual banquet at the Pharisee’s house. Jesus noticed how they chose places of honor, and he told a parable challenging such self-importance. By the conclusion of the great dinner, Jesus not only includes the marginalized of society into the banquet of his parable, he excludes the original invitees from tasting the dinner. The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders and adherents had been invited to the kingdom of God, but had failed to see the banquet of blessings brought by Jesus. In fact, they would call for Jesus’ death, thereby rejecting God’s invitation altogether. The early church would understand Luke as including new guests into the kingdom (e.g., Gentiles, all nations, beginning from Jerusalem – Luke 24:47).

[1] Green, Gospel, 562.

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

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