THE FEAST IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Key Verse: 14:23
"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country
lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.'"
1. Read verses 1-6. Notice the contrasts in this merciless banquet.
(What is dropsy?) What was the Pharisees' plot? How did Jesus show
God's mercy and answer his accusers?
2. Read verses 7-11. What did Jesus notice and what did he teach the
guests about being humble? Read verses 12-14. What advice did Jesus
give his host? Whom should we invite to parties? Why? (Mt 25:36-40)
3. Read verses 15-24. What is this parable about? Who were the invited
guests? (Ro 9:1-5) What excuses did invited guests give? Why? Who
finally sat down at the banquet table? What is God's kingdom like?
4. Read verses 25-27. What must one overcome in order to be Jesus'
disciple and sit at the heavenly banquet? What does he mean by "hate"?
"Carry his cross"? In what way is the banquet invitation an invitation
5. Why should diligent Bible students never become complacent? (28-30)
What does it mean to count the cost? Why is it worth it? How can we win
the war? Read verses 31-33. What does it mean to be like salt?
The Bible compares each human life to a holy pilgrimage to the kingdom
of God. On the day the holy pilgrimage is completed, there we will meet
Abraham and King David, a man after God's own heart. And there we will
meet our Lord Jesus Christ, who was once slain for our sins and is now
sitting on the right side of the throne as our Judge (2Co 5:10) and our
Defender (1Jn 2:1). There we will meet all those who have lived
victorious lives as the witnesses of our Lord and eat a blessed banquet
in the kingdom of God.
This passage contrasts the banquet of a Pharisee (1-14) and the banquet
in the kingdom of God (15-24). As always God wants to bring us to the
banquet in the kingdom of God. Here Jesus teaches us that we must
obtain the privilege of attending the banquet in the kingdom of God
First, a merciless banquet (1-6).
Luke, a Gentile, recorded the account in verses 1-14 to expose the
merciless Pharisee's banquet. On a Sabbath, Jesus was invited to dinner
by a prominent Pharisee. Probably in his garden was a swimming pool
made of massive stones, decorated by a flower garden. And the interior
decor of his house was glamorous. The dinner guests were all from the
high rank in the society. Obviously, the dinner party was extravagant.
The Pharisees prepared this dinner in an attempt to find a charge to
accuse Jesus as a violator of God's law. For instance, there was a big
dinner, and there just in front of Jesus was a man suffering from
dropsy. If Jean-Paul Sartre, who wrote "Nausea," saw this sight, surely
he would have been nauseated! And they watched Jesus to see if he would
heal the sick man on the Sabbath.
Usually, the enemies of Jesus attack, then Jesus defends himself by
teaching the word of God. This time, Jesus attacked them with a
question which he had expounded to them before (13:15,16). A Pharisee's
banquet, held to accuse Jesus, was invalidated. Jesus became indignant
when he saw that they were using the man with dropsy as bait to trap
him. Jesus rebuked them by saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath
or not?" (3) Verse 4a says, "But they remained silent." Their silence
meant their defeat. Jesus lost no time in healing the man. Jesus took
hold of the man, healed him and sent him away. Jesus risked his life to
heal the man who was suffering from dropsy. Maybe one of the man's legs
was bigger than the waist of an ordinary man. This verse reminds us of
John 10:11. It says, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays
down his life for the sheep."
In order to teach the mercy of God, Jesus told them a beautiful story.
Look at verse 5. "Then he asked them, 'If one of you has a son or an
ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately
pull him out?'" That's right. One would waste no time in pulling him
out. The same is true with God. The truth of God is to save men from
their miseries and ultimately from their sins, and to give life to
those who are perishing. Jesus loves us. He is full of grace and
Second, Jesus teaches them to be humble (7-11).
Jesus saw that the places of honor at the table were all occupied, and
his disciples were probably assigned to the benches in the back for
"extras," people such as professional beggars. So the disciples did
not know whether they should be standing there or sitting down on the
benches. Jesus told them this parable. Look at verses 8,9. "When
someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor,
for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so,
the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this
man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least
important place." Men of sinful integrity would say, "I am a little
better than you. So I must sit in the seat of honor and you must sit in
the back." But God's people must not think this way. The children of
God must think, "O my brothers and beautiful sisters must sit in a
better place. It doesn't matter even if I have to stand or sit on a
corner of a bench with professional beggars." James says, "God opposes
the proud but gives grace to the humble" (Ja 4:6).
Jesus told them to humble themselves. Look at verse 10. "But when you
are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he
will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be
honored in the presence of all your fellow guests." Worldly people are
oversensitive to exalt themselves. But the children of God are all
supposed to learn how to humble themselves (11). Matthew 23:11 says,
"The greatest among you will be your servant." Again, James 4:10 says,
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." Above
all, the children of God must follow the example of humble Jesus.
Though Jesus is God, he humbled himself and became a servant of all
(Php 2:6-8; Mk 10:45).
Third, invite the poor (12-14).
Jesus saw that the members of the dinner were all the people of rank,
gathered to enjoy bragging about some things that are not really true
(12). They must have spent much money to enjoy dinner parties among
themselves, complimenting each other, saying, "Oh, your puppy is cute!"
What did Jesus say to them? Look at verses 13,14. "But when you give a
banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you
will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at
the resurrection of the righteous." Jesus wanted them to invite those
who are in need of God's mercy. An act of mercy is remembered and
repaid, as our Lord promised Abraham as well as all the heroes and
heroines of faith. When we practice God's mercy we can please God, and
in proportion to our service, he gives us a fountain of joy welling up
in our souls. Surely our Lord Jesus will say, "Well done, my good and
faithful servant!" (Lk 19:17) Matthew 25:36-40 says, "'I needed clothes
and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison
and you came to visit me'...'When did we see you sick or in prison and
go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever
you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for
me.'" Here we must learn that giving something to the helpless is the
same as giving to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fourth, the great banquet in the kingdom of God (15-24).
God is eager to invite his chosen people to the banquet in the kingdom
of God. When one of the Pharisees heard Jesus' teaching, he made a cry
out of his wonder, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the
kingdom of God" (15b). This Pharisee must have grasped the blessedness
of the kingdom of God. Jesus taught him how much God is pleased to
invite his children to the heavenly banquet, without missing one. Look
at verses 16,17. "Jesus replied: 'A certain man was preparing a great
banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his
servant to tell those who had been invited, "Come, for everything is
now ready."'" In verse 17, "those who had been invited," refers by
implication to his chosen people (Ro 9:1-5), as well as all the people
of the world. Of course, the invitation is to a hunch-backed woman, and
to a man whose leg was swollen by dropsy. They were the people chosen
for a glorious mission.
But they blindly rejected God's invitation. What a tragic story! One of
them said, "I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it"
(18b). Another said, "I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on
my way to try them out. Please excuse me" (19). Still another said, "I
just got married, so I can't come" (20). They rejected God's
invitation. Those who rejected the banquet of the kingdom of God are
those who are distressed by the pain of busy life in this world.
What happened next? Look at verse 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.'"
Here, the owner of the house represents God. God was very sorry because
his own people, for whom he had prepared the banquet, rejected his
invitation (Jn 1:11). But God did not stop inviting his people; the
invitation was extended to those who were undeserving sinners. They
were the tax collectors, the prostitutes (Mt 21:32), the poor, the
crippled, the blind and the lame. When they were invited, they were
surprised that they were invited. They accepted the invitation with
great joy because they knew they were sinners who did not deserve such
a glorious invitation. They realized God's deep love through his
invitation. They learned Jesus' word, "anybody and everybody."
The servant said, "Sir, what you ordered has been done, but there is
still room" (22). Then the master told his servant, "Go out to the
roads and country lanes and make them come in...." (23) Our Father God
in heaven earnestly desires that the kingdom of God be filled with his
precious children. But the kingdom of God is still not full. So God
decided to invite the Gentiles. In inviting the Gentiles, the owner of
the house said, "Make them come in." Our Lord Jesus is gentle like a
mother. He does not break a bruised reed or snuff a smoldering wick
(Isa 42:3). But as for world salvation purpose, he said, "Make them
come in." These days many people don't interfere with others, even when
they know that they are dashing toward destruction. They are afraid of
violating human rights. To invite people to the feast of the kingdom of
God, we must learn from the owner that without heart, or suffering
loss, nothing happens. True love always goes beyond human reason or
unreasonable sacrifices. God wants to fill the seats of the banquet of
the kingdom of God. In short, God wants to save all people, that no one
* Why does God want to invite us to the banquet of the kingdom of God?
It's because God is our Father and he wants to bring all of us back to
his kingdom. God does not want us to perish in our sins. Before knowing
God's love personally, each person tortures himself under the power of
sin and death. Before knowing God's love personally, no one is happy;
no one can see the kingdom of God. The happiest scene of mankind may be
eating with Jesus in the kingdom of God. John described this happiness
in Revelation 3:20a: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock." God
opens the door and is waiting for his second son (Lk 15:20).
Fifth, basic attitude of being a member of the kingdom of God (25-35).
Large crowds followed Jesus (25). At that time, Jesus' mind was
occupied by his upcoming crucifixion. So Jesus thought that it was the
right time for his disciples to make a decision. Without a decision of
faith, none of his disciples could obtain the seats of the kingdom of
God. His followers must count the cost.
First of all, in order to obtain the banquet of the kingdom of God, we
must overcome our sentimentalism. Look at verse 26. "If anyone comes to
me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his
brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my
disciple." Here in verse 26, the word "hate" does not mean to abandon
one's family members at random, but to deny one's sentimentalism. Those
who are slaves of sentimentalism cannot give their first priority to
Also, in order to obtain membership in the kingdom of God one must
carry his own cross of mission (27). God does not accept to his banquet
in the kingdom of God those who ignored God's mission assigned to them
to carry out while on earth. Verses 28-33 are recorded only in Luke, to
awaken those Pharisees who were in the illusion that the banquet in the
kingdom of God was their monopoly simply because they were chosen
people. This warning applies to us also. In order to obtain the seats
of the banquet in the kingdom of God, we must make a decision of faith
to invest our property, made from the dust of the ground, for eternal
life and the kingdom of God. Otherwise, we will be dropouts. Look at
verses 28-30. "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not
first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to
complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish
it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began
to build and was not able to finish.'" This parable teaches us that we
must count the cost, and that it is worth it, even though it may be a
life investment. In order to attend the banquet in the kingdom of God,
we need a strategy. For example, in order to defeat an enemy stronger
than ourselves we need a strategy (31-33). The strategy of God's people
to win the war is easy and simple: "Trust and obey." That's all. When
we depend on God, God will fight for us (Ex 14:13,14). Otherwise we
will be dropouts from the banquet in the kingdom of God.
In this passage, we learn that we must thank God, realizing God's deep
love to invite us to the heavenly banquet in the kingdom of God.