5 September 2007

Luke 14:15-24

"Then the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled'". (v.23)


The story of the Great Feast is set in the context of table talk, where Jesus is shown debating with the Pharisees. Pharisees were scholars who were devoted to helping ordinary people understand and keep the Jewish law. Jesus is often shown arguing with them as he often had a radical 'take' on how the Law should in fact be honoured. 

Judging by the number of times he mentions them in his gospel, Luke is fond of banquets! They are to be understood as referring to the 'heavenly banquet prepared for all people', which Christians look forward to as we gather around the Lord's Table at Holy Communion. 

When the invitation to the banquet is made in the parable, people make excuses which parallel the reasons why men were excused military service in Deuteronomy 20:5-7. They are reasonable excuses, but by making them, the people have missed their opportunity. The Pharisees at the table with Jesus might have seen themselves in those people. 

The invitation then goes out to those in the city who would be considered unfit for such things by the Pharisees, and finally to those who live further afield. It is possible to see those people as the Gentiles (non-Jews). Luke emphasises that they are welcome in God's Kingdom. No one is excluded, but it is possible to refuse the invitation, the parable says.

To Ponder

Is the Church today the sort of inclusive community which welcomes everyone? Who might feel excluded? How can they be made to feel welcome?

What excuses are you inclined to make, to avoid God's invitation?

Bible notes author

The Revd Richard Bielby

Richard is a supernumerary Methodist presbyter in Stockton on Tees. He is a part-time prison chaplain and also serves as a voluntary chaplain at Durham Cathedral.