THE GREAT SUPPER
Luke 14:16-20 Then said He unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. (Also read verses 21-24).
This chapter of Luke begins with Jesus entering the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath day, that they watched Him (Vs. 1). The fact that Christ was invited into the house of a Pharisee was not to extend hospitality, but that they might watch Him - to find fault and reasons to discredit and condemn Him. Immediately a man came to Jesus having a disease called dropsy. This seems to have been intentional on the part of the Pharisee to see if Jesus would heal the man on the Sabbath. According to their traditions, healing was considered work and could not be done on the Sabbath - this would have been sinful (See Luke 13:14). However, Jesus had compassion on the man, healed him of his disease and justified doing so with this rhetorical question: Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day? The Pharisees "watching" Jesus were silent; they could not answer Him again to these things (Vss. 5-6).
Jesus uses the fact that they were about to eat a meal, as the basis to teach three lessons. Noticing how each guest chose the most favored seats at the meal, Jesus taught a lesson on humility (Vss. 7-11). In verses 12-14, He taught a lesson on true charity, closing it with this statement, for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. No doubt the Pharisees that were present at this meal thought Jesus was referring to them as the just. They expected an earthly kingdom, and considered the "recompense of the just" as a great meal around which they would gather with the Messiah as their king. Therefore, one of the guests said to Jesus, blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God (Vs. 15). Because of their complete misconception of God's plan of salvation, Jesus offers the subject parable to teach these Pharisees the truth about "the kingdom" He was to establish - a kingdom most of the Jewish nation would reject.
To summarize the parable, a man made a great supper. Many were invited, but all made excuses saying they could not come. Three excuses were given. One had bought some ground and needed to see it; another had bought five yoke of oxen and needed to try them out; another had just married a wife and could not come. When advised of these rejections, the master became angry, and told his servant to invite the poor...maimed... halt... and blind from the streets and lanes of the city. There still being room, the servant was instructed to fill the house of his master by compelling those from the highways and hedges to come to the feast. The parable concludes with the master of the house saying that none of those men which were (originally) bidden shall taste of my supper. The parable of The Marriage Feast is given in Matthew 22:1-14 and teaches a lesson similar to that of the subject text. Here excuses were not offered; those invited simply would not come (Vs. 3); some even made light of it (the invitation), and went their ways (Vs. 5). The wedding feast was furnished with guests that were invited from the highways (Vs. 10).
In the subject parable, the inference is that the guest list was already set for the great supper. Those bidden had already accepted their invitations, yet when the time came to attend, they excused themselves. Notice the excuses used to decline their invitations. Purchasing land, buying oxen, and marriage are all affairs of the world. Again, the inference is that once you have an obligation, other activities are not valid excuses and should not interfere with the original responsibility. The Jewish nation was God's chosen people. They were first to receive an invitation to the great supper - an invitation to receive salvation through Jesus Christ, the Savior. It was the worldly ambitions of the Jewish leaders that led to their rejection of Jesus. Nothing less than an earthly king would keep them from seeking the death of Jesus. They spurned their invitation to the kingdom of God with worldly excuses. Gentile nations were then invited, and the great supper was kept without those that were first bidden. What will you do with your invitation to salvation? Don't miss the Great Supper! There is no excuse in the world that God will accept!