Luke 14:16-24, Message
16-17 Jesus followed up. “Yes. For there was once a man who threw a great dinner party and invited many. When it was time for dinner, he sent out his servant to the invited guests, saying, ‘Come on in; the food’s on the table.’
18 “Then they all began to beg off, one after another making excuses. The first said, ‘I bought a piece of property and need to look it over. Send my regrets.’
19 “Another said, ‘I just bought five teams of oxen, and I really need to check them out. Send my regrets.’
20 “And yet another said, ‘I just got married and need to get home to my wife.’
21 “The servant went back and told the master what had happened. He was outraged and told the servant, ‘Quickly, get out into the city streets and alleys. Collect all who look like they need a square meal, all the misfits and homeless and down-and-out you can lay your hands on, and bring them here.’
23-24 “The master said, ‘Then go to the country roads. Whoever you find, drag them in. I want my house full! Let me tell you, not one of those originally invited is going to get so much as a bite at my dinner party.’”
There is danger here, and it gives this parable an edge. It seems that there are two kinds of people in this story: the well to do, and the misfits. Each plays an integral part–something that must be understood. We may not like what we see.
But the edginess that cuts in this parable is the real frustration of a man who has invited the respectable as guests to a wedding feast. But there’s nothing but good excuses. On the outward, they seem appropriate. In this story; three men justify their absence with what seems like reasonable.
But there’s more here. To refuse a wedding invite—was never done. It was the ultimate snub.
The overseer is outraged (obviously) by the conduct of these men.
He directs his servants to do something quite radical. He knows that the feast must have guests; the quantity reflects the quality. He orders that the servants scour the city, the streets and the alleys. He must have guests.
He doesn’t really care whether they’re misfits or not.
He’ll take misfits and rascals, losers and the homeless—it doesn’t matter, he wants warm bodies. He’ll take anyone at this point. He has decided that there will be guests, no matter what.
It’s grace—pure and simple.
The parable is a direct indictment of the religious situation of his day. Since the Jewish leaders have decided to reject Jesus, to spurn the invite to join in—he’ll invite the outsiders, the Gentiles. That is the first and obvious interpretation.
The second would be the “open door” given to the undeserving. We’re the ones who get to eat bbq lamb, and drink the best wine. It’s grace—pure and simple. And guess what, Jesus has room for more. There is a place at his table for you!
“Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These words of God are true.'”