Luke 14:12-24 (ESV)

12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” 15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 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.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 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. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

Jesus continued teaching those in the ruler of the Pharisees’ home. He instructed his host about the next time he would invite others to a meal. Jesus said it would please God if he were to invite those less fortunate than him, who had no means to pay him back. The poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, were often excluded from the bulk of society and normal functions. If invited, they had no way to return the favor. Such a host would be rewarded for generosity and kindness. When we are generous toward the less fortunate among us, not merely focusing on our own friends and relatives, God sees and will bless us in return. One of the guests at the dinner pronounced a blessing, assuming everyone there would enter into the kingdom of God. Jesus used a parable to show them that many present would in fact not take part in God’s kingdom. The host in his parable invited specific people to his banquet. But as the arrival time approached, one by one, they began giving apparently valid excuses for why they just weren’t going to be able to make it. They had other more important things to do. But the host had a banquet ready, and his agenda wasn’t going to be thwarted because of their disregard. The host invited the less fortunate to attend. And when there was still more room left, he invited foreigners or Gentiles to come.

Jesus challenged the religious leaders’ belief that they were secure before God because of whom they were and the apparent blessings of God on their lives. They made the choice not to follow him, and the result would be eternal. Have you ever held a party, and at the last-minute those who promised to come said they just couldn’t make it? Maybe you went to great lengths to make things nice for them, and it upset you when they bailed out. When it comes to God’s program, those who don’t show up to follow Jesus will regret that choice for eternity. What on earth could possibly be worth exclusion from the kingdom of God? At the same time, Jesus also revealed again that there would be many included in the kingdom of God considered less fortunate in life or from outside the Jewish nation. Why not invite someone to your church today? You never know who will repent and follow Jesus.