Jesus's Words

The Parable of the Dinner Guests

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Luke 14:15-24

See also the Parable of the Wedding Feast

Synopsis of Parable:

Rich man hosted party, sent slave to notify the invited. The invited declined to come. The man told the slave to invite the poor, crippled, blind, and lame. And there was still room, so the rich man told the slave to invite anyone on the highway.

Parable Given in Response to:

In response to a man in the audience saying "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God."(Luke 14:15.) However, a complete study from Luke 14:1 through 14:35 is beneficial to learning this parable.

Symbolism Chart

Symbol Meaning Verse Found Notes
↓Servant Jesus Luke 14:17
↓Master of the House God Luke 14:16
↓Great Supper Kingdom of God Luke 14:16
↓The Bidden Contemporary Israel Luke 14:17
↓Various Excuses The Cares of the World Luke 14:18
↓The Ailed Followers of Jesus Luke 14:21 Where "ailed" refers to the poor,
maimed, halted, and blind people.
↓Highwaymen Anyone who Hears the Word Luke 14:23

The Parable of the Dinner Guests

As presented in the King James Version of Luke 14:15-24

Luke 14:15And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
16Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
18 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.
19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Explanation of the Interpretation of Symbols

The Servant is Jesus Back to Top ↑

The servant is Jesus. He is the one who speaks with God, and was come to Earth for the bidden,(Matthew 10:6; 15:24.) which we will soon find out to be contemporary Israel.

However, the Jews rejected God and his commandments,(Mark 7:9.) and so Jesus finally told his disciples to preach to all nations.(Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20; Mark 13:10.)

This interpretation is common.

The Master of the House is God Back to Top ↑

The only person Jesus is subservient to is God. There is none other, therefore the master of the house must be God.

There are no other common interpretations as to who the master of the house is either. Everyone (or nearly everyone) agrees this person represents God.

The Great Supper is the Kingdom of God Back to Top ↑

The great supper is an event that had been prepared for a while. Note that the master bade many before it was suppertime. That is why he had to send out his servant to say Come; for all things are now ready. Luke 14:17 This is the same as the case with the Kingdom of God. For a long time, it was prophesied.(See, for example, Isaiah 9:6, 7; 11:9; Ezekiel 11:19, 20; Micah 4:3-4.) Then John the Baptist(Matthew 3:2.) and Jesus came saying Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 4:17

This parable can sum up the whole of the reactions to Jesus's ministry. The Jews did not come, so Jesus spoke in parables and sent his disciples elsewhere to gather people.

The Bidden was Contemporary Israel Back to Top ↑

This symbol and the previous three all work together to identify what each other symbol represents. Here, the bidden represent all those Jews who, during Jesus's time, did not listen to him and did not repent of their inward perversion.

The Various Excuses are the Cares of the World Back to Top ↑

The excuses that the bidden used to deny the invitation are shallow in the eyes of God.

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. Luke 14:18 What this person said is that a piece of land, which will last for their entire lifetime, is more important than a moment with you and your son. How could the master of the house not be upset at this? Even in modern times, this lesson holds up. No home is worth more than God's kingdom.

I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. Luke 14:19 This person got too excited over a purchase they made to even spend an afternoon with the master and his son. Jesus spoke about how riches can make one unfruitful or choke the word.(Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:19; 10:23, 24; Luke 8:14; 18:24.) Even more specifically, Jesus declares woe against the Pharisees for their financial love: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses Matthew 23:14 and Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? Matthew 23:16, 17

Jesus likewise warns us not to care for the gains of this world.(Luke 9:25.) He even goes so far as to say, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on...If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. Luke 12:22, 28-30 Jesus says to his disciples that the fundamentals of life are not important. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Luke 12:31 So long as we seek, God will provide for us. We should be reminded that Jesus did not even have a place to sleep at night,Luke 9:58 but he and the apostles were still provided for.

We should note that the man was excited over a purchase, over property, over five oxen. Five oxen today would be an interesting thing to be excited over, but it is not the oxen that matter, but the excitement that puts God off to the side that matters. For us modern folks, this could be as small as a screen on the porch, or new sheets on the bed. Or perhaps more traditional luxury purchases, such as a television, video games, tickets to the movie, books, or a trip to an amusement park. It matters not what the purchase is, only how we feel about it. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:34

The next person said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. Luke 14:20 This one seems fair, but it is not. Other people are not worthy to stay a person from God. Not even family.

Jesus once said to a man, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. Luke 9:59, 60 Consider how harsh this must seem. A funeral only happens once, at the culmination of a lifetime. But Jesus told this man to ignore his father's funeral. Why? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Matthew 22:32 The man's father was spiritually dead, and so Jesus did not mind the father's passing. And if the father were spiritually alive, then Jesus would see him again for eternity, so there would be no need for sadness.

And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:61, 62 Another man just wanted a moment to say goodbye to his family, but even this was too much for Jesus. There can be no regrets, no looking back, from the people in the Kingdom of God.

For more on the cares of the world, see the thorns section of the Parable of the Sower. For more on Jesus not considering even his own family, see the found sheep and found silver piece section of the Parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin.

The Ailed are Followers of Jesus Back to Top ↑

Here, we use the catch-all term "ailed" to refer the poor, the maimed, the halted, and the blind, that the master of the parable ordered the servant to bring in.(Luke 14:21.) These are the people that search for God much like a person searches for a cure to their illness. These people need a doctor, which is why Jesus came.(Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31.) These are all people who would likely love a warm and cozy supper, even if they cannot pay the master back for it.

Solomon commends this, writing He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.Proverbs 19:17 Jesus agrees with the whole of this, saying directly before the parable: When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:12-14

Thus, the ailed people the master of the house invited are now fed, much as Jesus came to feed us the bread of life,(John 6:33, 35, 48, 51.) and to give us the water of life.(John 4:13, 14.)

The Highwaymen are Anyone who Hears the Word Back to Top ↑

The master also orders the servant to invite anyone on the highway. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. Luke 14:23, 24

These are just the random people in the world that are unconnected with God, and that live their normal everyday lives. Even these people deserve a chance to eat at the supper. Many of them will turn to him and act like the Pharisees, saying they do good deeds in his name but ignore his will. About these people, Jesus says, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:21-23

In Conclusion Back to Top ↑

There is a lot going on in the Parable of the Dinner Guests, however, when broken down into its symbolic parts, it all comes together easily. God had prepared the Kingdom for his chosen people, but they rejected him, so instead he will let anyone that wants to sup with him inside.

We should note that just because a group of people rejected him and his son does not mean that God would not let these people inside. Jesus's message was to repent, which means to change the mind on something. If these people repented of their traditions and followed Jesus, even today, they would be in the kingdom of God.

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