Stories of the King 1: The Great Banquet

For Meditation

This month we’re spending our Sundays looking at different stories — or parables — that Jesus tells in Luke. These are the stories that he tells to give us a window into the Kingdom of God and the way things work under God’s reign.

In the great banquet parable that we’re exploring this week, there are at least two significant things that Jesus is sharing with us. First, he is trying to open the eyes of the people who are at this banquet. He wants to show them that God’s kingdom is breaking in, even now, through himself. At this point, the people Jesus is speaking to are looking forward to something in the far off future, when God triumphs over their enemies. Instead, Jesus is showing them that God’s kingdom is breaking in right now, here in front of them, and it is happening through him. And he’s extending an invitation, asking them, “Will you come even now? The door is wide open."

The second thing that’s happening is that Jesus is challenging us to make our lives, our hospitality, and our dinner banquets look much more like God’s kingdom. We tend to live and act out of desires for reciprocity—the idea that what I do and give, will be paid back in full. God’s way, however, is based on grace. It is freely given out to those who are most undeserving. So, in this story, Jesus is saying that when you hold a dinner banquet, don’t invite people who you know will pay you back. Instead, go out and invite those who are desperate for grace. Invite those who are spiritually poor, physically poor, sick and in need. Our lives should look like an in-breaking of God’s kingdom by including people around our tables and in our lives that Jesus clearly wants to bring into his Kingdom.

So we are challenged this week to respond to God’s invitation of grace, but also to make our lives look more like his.

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Luke 14: 12-24

12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 

21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 

23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”