Luke 14:7-11, 15-24
All that is recorded in the text before us occurs on the sabbath day at the house of a chief Pharisee. Jesus had entered into the house to eat bread upon an invitation that only the owner of the house could issue (see v. 1). Despite the fact that Jesus had issued numerous criticisms of the scribes and Pharisees, He was not universally rejected by them. In Luke 13:31, one of the Pharisees (perhaps several of them) warned Him that He would be in danger in Jerusalem. It appears that Jesus, on this occasion, was the guest of honor of the chief Pharisee who hosted the dinner. Some commentators theorize that the Jesus was being set up (to do that which was unlawful on the sabbath) rather than being honored. When the dining area was opened to guests, Jesus witnessed a rush to occupy seats of honor (seats close to the table of the host).
Jesus took note of this behavior and commented upon that which would take place at a different setting. Seating at a marriage feast is not first come, first served. It is determined by the host. If a guest were to take an undeserved seat of high honor, the host would direct him to move. Likewise, if a guest were to seat himself at a table that the host deemed to be much below that of what he thought deserved, the host would direct him to a table of honor. Anyone asked to move to a seat of less honor would be humiliated. On the other hand if one were to be singled out to move from a seat of low esteem to a seat of high esteem, all present would recognize the honor extended to him by the host.
The custom of seating at a marriage feast was not anything which Jesus’ listeners did not know and some may have wondered why Jesus directed their attention to marriage feast protocol. Born again Christians of every era do not wonder. All who have accepted God’s saving grace know that Jesus was using the figure of a marriage feast to illustrate what shall transpire at His marriage feast when He shall be united with the church. On that occasion the first shall be last and the last shall be first. At Jesus’ marriage feast, all present are seated by grace; the self-exalted shall be made low and the humble shall be exalted.
Jesus then turned to the host of the feast and announced that a blessing is reserved for one who hosts a feast without thought of recompense. The poor, the maimed and the blind cannot reciprocate, but those who honor the poor, the maimed and the blind will be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Jesus’ words may or may not have been lost by the host. New Testament believers know that all believers shall stand before the Son at the resurrection of the just.
The term resurrection of the just was not a mystery to the scribes and Pharisees present. Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead. One individual who was seated at the head table with Jesus stated: “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” This particular individual recognized that all who were part of the resurrection of the just would eat bread in the kingdom of God. Pharisees believed that one was made just by keeping the law of Moses. New Testament Christians know better. We know that one is not saved by works. We know that we have no cause for which to boast. We know that we have been given that which we have not earned and that which we do not deserve.
The one who stated “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God” realized that the wedding feast of which Jesus spoke was the kingdom of God, but had a mistaken idea of those who would participate in the feast.
Jesus responded to the man’s words with the parable of the great supper in which the guests at the wedding feast are identified. The host of the great supper is the same as the host of the wedding feast. The host first extended an invitation to many who were near about. When they without exception offered up excuses for being unable to accept the invitation, the master of the house instructed his servant to go out into the city and bring in the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. When it was done, the house was not yet full. The master then instructed his servant to go out beyond the city into the highways and hedges and compel them whom he found to come also so that the house might be full. The master of the house vowed that all who refused the invitation would not so much as taste his supper.
Those who will eat bread in the kingdom of God are those who accept the Lord’s invitation. The parable is given to all who have the ears to hear. Unfortunately, those who do not accept His invitation lack hearing. Those who accept the invitation need note that Jesus did not single out any one individual to occupy a place of honor. There is, however, one who places himself below all others. It is the servant. The servant hears and obeys the voice of the master but is last to eat. The servant is late because he is about his master’s business. The servant is the honored guest to whom the self-exalted must give up his place.
Let us remember that the host and master of the house thought it not above Himself to give His life for the lowest of us all. He made Himself the servant of all. May all believers hear and obey His call.