There’s a theme of feasting in Luke’s gospel, and we’re invited to join in the feast! In Luke 14:1-24 we read about a feast that Jesus was invited to. He uses it to point to a much greater feast – the one you’re invited to. We get a glimpse of how amazing that feast is by thinking about how gracious and generous the host is.
And we’ll also get a hint of how terrible and futile it will if you just say ‘no thanks’.
We’ll make our way through the passage and ask one important question Luke wants us to ask!
- That opens things up more broadly for us, very helpfully.
- Then we can really think about that feast!
Read the Bible well
The setting is a meal at a Pharisee’s house – but it’s not a friendly gathering: Read Luke 14:1.
Jesus knows that for most of the Pharisees their biggest problem was their religious pride: They thought they were acceptable to God by keeping every little law – and Sabbath observance was a big one. But their hearts were far from the compassion and love of God, so Jesus exposed that for them.
Read Luke 14:2-6.
- They might have entered a debate with him about what the Sabbath is for.
- But his observation about what they would do at home on the Sabbath just showed their hypocrisy.
- They could find no answer because they were shown to be hypocrites.
- The right answer would be something like, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Lord, forgive my hypocrisy and cold heart.”
- But that would be repentance, and it’s the lack of repentance that keeps people away from God’s kingdom.
Now, here’s the question Luke wants us to ask: Haven’t we already read this in the previous chapter? Why the repeat? But we’ve known from chapter 1 Luke has given us an orderly account. There must be a reason for the repeat. We’ll come to that.
Next we get two odd lessons about social etiquette, first on how to be a humble guest, second on how to be a gracious host.
Read Luke 14:7-11 (guest) and Luke 14:12-14 (host).
Behind these lessons you can see Christian values and conduct:
- The humble guest runs the risk of being overlooked!
- That’s ok, if it means others are blessed instead of you. Love is other-person oriented, and it’s good to humble yourself and treat others better than you.
- The gracious host might be taken advantage of!
- That’s ok, love loves for its own sake, not asking for audience or reward.
The kingdom of God
Someone at the feast understood something about that, and saw in them a picture of how good it would be to be in the kingdom of God (the perfect host): Read Luke 14:15.
Jesus replies with a story of another feast, “a large banquet”.
Read Luke 14:16-17.
- It was normal to send your servant to collect guests.
- But the guests make a series of lame excuses:
Read Luke 14:18-20.
- You might have heard those excuses explained away as reasonable under certain circumstances.
- But in truth, they’re just excuses.
- They could have gone to the feast but they didn’t want to.
- They were too tied to their worldly pleasures to come.
But that won’t stop this host! Read Luke 14:21-24.
People with no ties to worldly pleasures were happy to come.
- We might remember, “Blessed are the poor…”
- Jesus came to bring “good news to the poor…”
- Because they find life hard, but with little in this life to tie them down they’re happy to accept the Master’s invitation.
- Rich people prefer their diversions.
Next time we’ll look at Luke 14:25-35, where Jesus will remind you of the cost of following him: To take up your cross.
But what about those verses about healing on the Sabbath? The repeated verses are a clue that Luke wants you to pick up.
A broad image of the kingdom of God
You’re to put chapters 13 and 14 side by side and see the whole picture of the kingdom of God – who’s in, who’s out, and why?
Side by side, they have parallel structures (from 13:10)
- Almost identical discussions about healing on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10-17 and Luke 14:1-6).
- Then two short, connected sayings in each chapters (Luke 13:18-21 and Luke 14:7-14).
- A deliberate mention of the kingdom of God (Luke 13:18-21 and Luke 14:15).
- Then extended imagery of the kingdom of God:
- On the one hand, Jesus is seen to be the narrow door to the kingdom that most people refuse to take (Luke 13:22-30).
- On the other hand, God himself is shown to be a gracious, generous host – inviting all and sundry to come to the feast (Luke 14:15-24)!
- The final parallel is about the cross: How Jesus was focussed on his work in Jerusalem (Luke 13:31-35), and how his followers will themselves need to take up their own cross (Luke 14:25-35).
All in the context of a synagogue and a Pharisee’s home.
Religion never saved a soul. If anything, it can lead you astray and make you think you’re ok.
In Luke 13:1-9, Jesus made it clear that we’re all equally sinful before God. You, me, all of us need to repent of our sin.
- The lesson then is twofold: Everyone is excluded from the feast of God’s kingdom by sin, and yet:
- Everyone is invited to the feast! Including you! So:
Join in the feast
If you think that to be a Christian is to be stuffy and boring, you’ve got it wrong.
Jesus said that he came into the world so that you may have life – and have it in abundance, to the full! (John 10:10)
We crave many things in life and turn to all sorts of sources.
- Some pursue money and belongings to give security and peace of mind.
- Many pursue drugs, alcohol, or porn addictions in the hope of some escape – but only end up more trapped than ever.
But Jesus calls you to come to him for life. He is the ‘narrow door’ to the kingdom of God.
God is the host who invites you to astonishing blessing.
Turn from the sin that entangles you: Repent.
Ask God to forgive you: Pray.
In Christ then, you enter the feast:
- Ultimate peace and security: Psalm 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
- He gives you hope.
- Jesus gives your life meaning and purpose.
- Your creator knows the best for you and calls you to full human flourishing in his kingdom now.
- He puts you in community in his church.
- Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6 NLT) – such is his church, his people.
And any blessing you may receive on earth as a Christian, as a child of God, is just a glimpse of a corner of a shadow of the feast God has in store for his people!
Join the feast! And remember, much of the joy of the feast of the kingdom of God is God himself!
Delight in God
God dwells in a spectacular existence beyond anything you can imagine. He is your creator, existing outside space and time. He has no potential to improve or change. Infinite in knowledge, holiness, wisdom, and love.
God exists. He is. He has no dependencies. They call it the aseity of God.
God doesn’t need you or me or anything he has created. But he created everything by his own goodness and pleasure.
He is infinite in his unchanging bliss. He presents himself to us in ways we can grasp a little. That is, he accommodates himself to us, knowing we’re finite and limited and sinful.
- In his nature he is impassible – totally without changing passions or dips from infinite bliss.
- In time he presents to us as grieved, or relenting, or changing plans in some regard, but there is nothing you can do to change him: He has no moods; he cannot change.
God is light. In him there is no darkness at all. No shade of doubt, or evil, or lack of knowledge or goodness.
God is love. The measure of his love is what he was willing to pay to redeem you: He gave his Son.
He is infinite in mercy and compassion, the God of all comfort.
Incredible in his tenderness towards you, you can even know this God.
You know this ineffable, indescribable God by the way he has revealed himself to you: In Christ.
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
- And Christ is the narrow door through whom you come to this God; he is the way.
- Christ is the only way to the Father: He is the truth.
- And Christ is one with the Father: He is the life.
- Our God is the end of this journey.
- And he is lavish, generous, open-handed and huge-hearted. Join the feast! Delight in God!
Don’t get sidetracked!
Imagine getting a glimpse of this feast and this God and saying, “I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. I ask you to excuse me.”
It’s right that we take this life seriously. You are to be diligent in work, honest in your words, a model citizen of the nation, in good standing with everyone.
- God has given you gifts and abilities. You enjoy doing them for their own sake and for your family and the church.
- It’s important to look after the body that God has given you.
But everything you can touch will be lost one day. Your life is not in the abundance of your possessions (Luke 12:15).
You will spend the next thousand thousand years in one of two places (forget purgatory, it doesn’t exist):
- With Christ in the blissful glory of God,
- Or in hell, in truth known too late, filled with pain and regret.
- In neither destination will the possessions you have today matter.
- When you stand before God you are neither rich nor poor, you’re just you.
So take the things of this life seriously (fields, ox, marriage), but don’t them distract you from entering the eternal feast of God.
Don’t miss out
Remember what Jesus said in Luke 13:24 – Many will try to enter but won’t be able once the homeowner [Jesus] gets up and shuts the door.
If you follow false religions or ideologies, you’ll miss the narrow door. There are plenty of counterfeits and wannabes, but only Christ is the narrow door.
Luke 13:24 Make every effort to enter through the narrow door – turn to Christ in repentance and faith.
And you come to a God who is inviting everyone to come. There is no reason for you to miss out on the bliss of eternity with God. He invites you and enables you and delights to save you. Don’t miss out!
Live in the kingdom now
Jesus is the narrow door to the kingdom of God today.
You enter that eternal life when you come to Christ in repentance and faith, when you’re forgiven, adopted by God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
So the characteristics of the humble guest and generous host are things that you’re to live out today.
Live in humility:
- You’re not saved because you’re amazing; God has saved you by his own open-handed generosity, grace, and love.
- You know that most people don’t have the hope you do. That is to drive you to a humble urgency to tell others.
- You’re to take the role of that servant, going out and inviting everyone to this feast.
Live in generosity
- With God as your father, you’re to reach out as he does to the unlovely, the unloved. You’re not to have favourites, but to make sure that this good news goes to all and sundry.
- And that’s not a boring chore; participate in the divine nature by growing to be more like Christ – then you will invite joyfully, openly, warmly.
- Still people will reject in blindness and sin. But invite anyway.
Join in the feast; delight in God; don’t get sidetracked; don’t miss out; live kingdom life now.
To the glory of God, and to your very great blessing in him.