The Kingdom Is Like a Slighted Invitation

Luke 14 contains three parables and the chapter could be titled “Parables while sitting at meat” for all three related to feasts and were given while Jesus was “sitting at meat in the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees” (Lk. 14:1). The first two of the parables were pointed, calling out the Pharisees’ love for chief seats at marriage feasts and in their synagogues (Lk. 14:7-11). His second parable taught them that instead of inviting guests to a feast who would return the like invitation, they should rather invite those who could not recompense — the poor, maimed, lame, and the blind (Lk. 14:13). The reward would be from God when He recompensed them in the “resurrection of the just” (Lk. 14:14).

There was a guest at this supper who heard these two parables and exclaimed “blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God” (Lk. 14:15). We do not know why this man so spoke. Was it because tensions had risen because of the two parables that called out the glaring faults of many of those present and the speaker wanted politely to change the subject? Was it that he who made the statement was a perceptive person and realized the true value of “eating bread in the kingdom”? We cannot know. Jesus did not disagree with the man — He might be regarded as responding to the comment, “Blessed is he that eateth bread in the kingdom of God” in this way: “Yes, but …”

Jesus’ parables WERE pointed. His points could hardly have been missed. His parables were plain, but necessary and kind. These Pharisees needed to realize that if they were to please God they were going to have to change many things about themselves; to change to “truth-seekers” instead of “fault-finders” for thus they were. These teachers were sitting at the feast, carefully watching Him to find something in His words or deeds they could condemn Him for. A man with dropsy appeared to be the perfect opportunity. Would Jesus heal him on this Sabbath? Jesus anticipated their reaction for He knew their motives and the dismissing of their arguments ere they had voiced them is recorded in Luke 14:1-6 — a passage well worth your reading.

So one guest exclaimed, “Blessed is he that eateth bread in the kingdom of God.” And, as has already been stated, Jesus’ prelude to the parable which followed might well have been, “Yes it will be, but …” Luke records no preliminary words from Jesus, just this response from Him in the form of a parable, a parable some call the “Parable of the Slighted Invitation” (Lk. 14:15-24).

The parable is very similar to another Jesus gave in Matthew 22:1-14. There the trappings are very much alike: a feast and guests invited who slighted it. But that parable adds another element — a guest who came to the wedding feast without wearing a wedding garment. That added element was the focus of the parable, showing the absolute need of a wedding garment. The parable in Luke 14 has a different point of emphasis: lack of appreciation for “eating bread in the kingdom of God.”

The parable tells of a man who gave a great supper and invited many. At supper time he sent a servant to say, “Come, for all things are now ready” (Lk. 14:17). With one accord those who had been invited began to make excuse. One had bought a field and he needed to go and survey it. He politely said, “I pray thee, have me excused.” A second said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen and I go to prove them.  I pray thee, have me excused” (Lk. 14:18). The third offered no apology, saying abruptly, “I have married a wife and therefore I cannot come” (Lk. 14:20). None of the invited guests did any violence to those sent to invite them, unlike those in the parable of the marriage of the king’s son (Mt. 22:1-14). There the servants who were sent to tell them the feast was ready were treated shamefully and killed. These guests put their priority on the wrong things.

The man who gave the supper was understandably angry. He had gone to much expense to provide the supper, and those initially invited had obviously accepted that invitation. Their rejection of the invitation was rude, even though two of them asked pardon for their absence. It was not because of some unforeseen emergency that caused them to fail to go. Had there been a real emergency there would have been a different reaction from the giver of the feast. It was rudeness, pure and simple. The man who had bought a field could have gone at any time to see that field; he owned it. The man who bought five yoke of oxen could have gone to prove them at any time; he owned them. He who married a wife had the least excuse of all. Could he plead that he could not work because he had married a wife? Why did these individuals renege on an invitation they had accepted? Because it was not important to them. They did not consider the blessing of having been invited to the feast of any great value.

Jesus is the “living bread come down out of heaven” and those who “eat” him will never hunger again (Jn. 6:35). He is the fountain of life, satisfying forever the thirst of man (Jn. 4:14). What a blessing it is to eat bread in the kingdom of God! Companionship for the lonely; forgiveness for the sinful; solace for the sad and depressed; rest for the weary; and, hope for those facing death. There is nothing found elsewhere to compare with the blessed of “eating bread in the kingdom of God.” Still, many foolish souls trade the immeasurable blessings of the great supper God has prepared for crumbs.

There is only one place Jesus will occupy in the hearts of those who follow Him: FIRST. If He is not placed first, He will occupy no place. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Mt. 6:33). “Sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord” (1 Pet. 3:154). For eternity’s sake we should examine this question: “What place does Jesus and His Kingdom occupy in my life and heart?” If the answer is not “first,” we need to set about immediately to correct this grave sin and exalt Christ to the throne in our hearts that is rightfully His. It is blessed to eat bread in the kingdom of God!

Jim McDonald