“So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled’” (Luke 14:21–23, ESV).
A recurring theme in Luke is that God gives undeserving people a sure hope from an unexpected Savior. The religious leaders were not looking for Jesus to be the Christ. Their version of the Messiah didn’t match up with Him. But the gift of grace to all the undeserving common people and societal outcasts was good news of a sure hope!
In the average city, those in the streets were not the first you’d expect to be guests at such a banquet. In fact, if an invitation made it to them somehow, it would be expected that they decline politely. They didn’t deserve to be at such a banquet and should know it.
Jesus was doing just this. He was healing and inviting the cripple and poor and blind and lame. He was coming to those sorts of people. But He went further as well.
Those on the highways and hedges were commonly Gentiles. Jesus is looking at these seemingly upright people and saying that the outsiders are a focus of the second invitation now. The outsiders will be brought in.
Feast of grace
I think it is interesting that the story doesn’t end with a full table, but with a job being done. The servant is urgently insisting that those outside come in and enjoy — because what Jesus started, we are called to continue. It’s very much like we are those on the highways also turning and urging others to come with us to the feast. This is the feast of grace.
This second invitation is now going to all kinds of people who would have been looked down on as the undeserving. And Jesus is saying, “Yes, exactly!” He puts it forcefully in verse 24: “For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.”
The you is plural which is different from the general you Jesus used in the parable. He is being far more direct at this point, because they are not getting it.
R.C. Sproul put it this way:
“No wonder the Pharisees plotted Jesus’ death. No wonder he was killed. He had just told them, face to face, that they were not going to make it to the banquet feast. Not only would they not be in the highest seats, but they would not be at the feast at all, because they had rejected the second invitation; the invitation that was given by the Son of God himself.”
Jesus looks at these Pharisees and tells them they won’t taste the bread of the Kingdom.
“Jesus, that’s harsh. Why are You being this way?!”
Because they have rejected the Son of God to His face. We aren’t talking hypotheticals here. The Pharisees are seeing God incarnate and still refuse to believe Him because they are holding to their ideals of what God’s Messiah surely looks like and how He will manifest. They have ignored His miracles and teachings. They rejected the second invitation.
And it continues today. How many have read the works of God in the Bible and seek to explain them away, or simply reject them outright? How many times have we lived in practical disbelief by not acting as though God is who He says He is?
Whenever we neglect to see and receive His grace, we identify more with the Pharisee than we do with our Savior.
The new reality of our existence in Christ is that we will be feasting at the great banquet. Our works in this life do not secure our place at the table; though the Pharisees thought it would. We have become the poor and lame and outcast invitees to this great feast.
Invited to fellowship
Instead of rejecting the invitation, we are called to receive and be blessed. What truth of God’s Word do you struggle to believe? In what way are you suddenly or maybe not so suddenly rejecting the invitation of Christ because you struggle with the truth of God‘s Word?
Do you, like so many, think God wants or needs you to do some self-cleaning before He can love or save you? No! Jesus has invited you to the feast as you are!
Maybe you hold guilt over sin, actual sin, so tightly that you constantly feel the weight of it, even after repentance. Jesus has invited you to feast.
Maybe you grew up in an environment that simply acted as though there isn’t a God, a home where the assumption was that God isn’t real. Jesus is inviting you to believe and feast.
When we spend the majority of our day around lost people but never speak the name of Jesus to them, we are making an excuse. So often we focus on the daily busyness of life by neglecting His Word and prayer and fellowship, but Jesus is inviting us to feast rather than starve.