The great banquet. The end times? Apocalypse, revelation and the antichrist? Eewwww this could get juicy.
Let’s read the passage and consider the message
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.'”
Questions to Consider
Who were the audience?
Jesus had been invited to “dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees” (Luke 14:1)
Some commentators link this parable with the healing of the demoniac. Although applicable I suppose, I will continue with the flow of thought found in Luke’s telling.
When did the Lord give this parable?
This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out Events of Jesus Life.
Where did the Lord teach the parable?
During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan. This particular parable was given at a party.
Why did the Lord give this message?
The Lord had given a parable moments before, concerning who we should invite to parties. (See “Parable Surprises – Giving a Feast”) Out of that parable, some one said to Jesus, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
This is all it took, for I sense the Lord gave this parable ’cause the message just might not have sunk in. Sure, the previous parable was about “losers”, (those who had no influence, and may be considered a burden to society), but this parable had a similar message, directed to a different group of outcasts.
What was the message for the original audience?
You’ve read the parable. The message is simple. Those who are privileged often reject an invitation. The party goers Jesus was speaking to were not only healthy, wealthy, and wise (?), they were of the privileged class of people, the chosen ones whom God called because they were so special, they were the better “lot of people”. Not like those others! They weren’t them!
Three of the privileged were invited to a great banquet.
- Who buys a field without looking at it?
- Who buys a couple of oxen without inspecting them?
- Who marries a wife? You know this one may have some merit, since the OT makes reference to the first year of marriage to be dedicated to no warfare, etc, But honestly, no banquet either? (See Deuteronomy 24:5)
Let’s just agree that these reasons are fairly thinly veiled excuses to avoid saying no the invite!
The party giver was determined, and he went to those he initially invited to bring them in, but to no success. Well servant, the food is getting cold – go get some of them there poor and crippled, blind and lame folk.
Sound familiar to the tone of the earlier parable? Even with that done, there was more room!
Go get those foreigners.
As an aside, this verse was used by a certain dark ages church to justify forcibly converting pagans to Christianity. Certainly an obvious misapplication of this parable. The Masters desire to have guests is very evident with the word choice of compel. Drag them into the party by whatever means necessary.
The word “compel” can be understood to range from asking permission of the invited to threatening or forcing someone to attend.
Outline of Biblical Usage
- to necessitate, compel, drive to, constrain
- by force, threats, etc.
- by permission, entreaties, etc.
- by other means
It is my understanding that during the crusades this verse was used to justify the horrific manner of “evangelism” the church entered into.
Back to the point, the party giver was determined to have a successful party. He wanted to share his possessions and good fortune with any and all. Kinda sounds like God.
And yet, the punch line has not been discussed yet. Those who reject the invitation, eventually will be refused an opportunity.
What is the message for us today?
However you read this parable, the meaning for us in this modern society is evident. We are invited to the banquet daily, and yet we refuse. A continual refusal will bring about a continual rejection.
Maybe there is an end times flare to this parable, in that in the end, our willingness to accept the invitation is crucial while we have an opportunity.
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
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