We’ve all missed out on a big opportunity at one time or another. Even if you’ve squandered a lot of opportunities in life, there is still time to accept God’s invitation. That’s the message of Jesus in the parable of the great banquet.
Luke 4:15-24 Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!” 16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”
This parable takes us close to the heart of God. It also shows us the reality of the choices we make in this life and the consequences of those choices. And it gives us a great vision of how we can help other people find God.
Every Excuse for Not Pursuing God Is Lame
When you hear the reasons people gave for not going to the party, it’s almost comical. But the point of those excuses is to show us that there is no good reason for not pursuing God. Nothing is more important or a better use of your time than prioritizing God. But if we are honest, many of us don’t prioritize pursuing God. Think about some of the reasons we give for not pursuing God: “I’m too busy.” “I’ll prioritize God when I’m older.” “I’m happy with life the way it is.” “I have other important things to do.”
God’s invitation to follow him doesn’t last forever. Once you die, your choice is final. If you constantly say no to God in your life, he will eventually honor that choice, just like he did with the first group of party guests in the parable.
Luke 14:24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.
God Invites Everyone to Join His Family
That’s the exciting part of the parable. Sure, the expected ones turned down the invitation. But look at all of the outsiders who were invited in!
Luke 14:21, 23 Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ … ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.’
Jesus didn’t just come to help people who have life figured out, the wealthy, or the moral. Jesus came to help everyone (Matthew 11:4-5). Jesus helps those who recognize they need help. And be comforted: you may be an outsider in your family. You may be looked down on by others. But Jesus came to rescue you.
God Expects Us to Invite Everyone to Join His Family
In the parable, the rich man doesn’t go out into the streets and do all the inviting. He sends his servants out to do it for him. And this is a picture of how God works today. God is still inviting people to follow him. And how does he often do it? Through Christians. We have the privilege of inviting people to meet God. We are like the servants, telling everyone we can that God is throwing a big, eternal party for them.
God presents us with the opportunity of a lifetime: to come in and sit at his table. Will we take him up on it?
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What are some big opportunities for you that have gone well?
- What are some opportunities that you later saw were missed? Did you regret it? Explain.
- What are some excuses you’ve heard people make for not following God? What are some excuses you’ve made for not following God?
- Why do you think people make excuses for not following God?
- Read Luke 14:21-23. What does it look like for God to invite the “outsiders” today? Who are the “outsiders” you know or interact with?
- Read 1 Timothy 2:3-4. God wants to save everyone, but it can look very different depending on who is being saved. How do you think God’s way of saving wealthy, moral, “together” people differs from how he reaches “outsiders?” How should this affect how we seek to reach different types of people?
- Read Matthew 28:18-20. What are some steps you can take to better follow Jesus’s “great commission” in your life?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.