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THE GREAT BANQUET



 

Luke recorded the story of Jesus dining “at the house of one of the leading Pharisees” (Luke 14:1) on a particular Sabbath day. We can imagine the bold banter between the hyper-spiritual do-gooders as they bragged and boasted of their religious exploits. We can also envision their nasty whispers and judgmental stares when they became aware of the man with “dropsy” (Luke 14:2, NKJV). He “was a man whose body was swollen with fluid” (Luke 14:2) probably caused by a dermal infection. The man cast a grotesque shadow over the otherwise jubilant event.

 

There was stunned silence when Jesus dropped the bomb: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” (Luke 14:3).

 

This wouldn’t have been the first time Jesus healed on the Sabbath day. Once, Jesus had instructed a man with the “shriveled hand” (Luke 6:8) to come to the front of the Jewish synagogue. “After looking around at (the religious muckety-mucks), “he told him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did, and his hand was restored” (Luke 6:10). At this, the Pharisees “were filled with rage and started discussing with one another what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:11).

 

Jesus must have risen to stand by the man with dropsy. Seething with resentment, the religious crowd remained silent as Jesus embraced the weakened and sick man. Compassionately, Jesus “took the man, healed him, and sent him away” (Luke 14:4). Scanning the room, Jesus asked, “ ‘Which of you whose son or ox falls into a well, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?’ They could find no answer to these things” (Luke 14:5–6).

 

Later, as the room regained its composure, one of the Pharisees smugly boasted, “Blessed is the one who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15). In other words, “aren’t we lucky that we’re all going to heaven!” That’s when Jesus told the parable of The Great Banquet.

 

“A man was giving a large banquet and invited many. At the time of the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who were invited, ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’ But without exception they all began to make excuses” (Luke 14:16-18).

 

One of the invited guests had purchased some real estate and needed to do an inspection. Another had bought some oxen, and he was busy testing them out. Still, another made an excuse… he’d gotten married and was stuck at home. Excuses! Excuses!

 

When this was reported to the master, he sent his servant “into the streets and alleys of the city, to bring in the poor, maimed, blind, and lame” (Luke 14:21). When this was accomplished, the master sent the servant “into the highways and hedges”(Luke 14:23) to find others who would attend his great banquet.

 

As Jesus looked onto the eyes of the religious leaders, He clearly and emphatically stated, not everyone “will enjoy my banquet” (Luke 14:24) … not everyone is going to heaven! “How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it” (Matthew 7:14). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except…” (John 14:6) by grace through faith.




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