The Parable of the Wedding Feast, The Parable of the Great Banquet
by Doug Weber
I’ve never crashed a wedding reception uninvited… but I’ve definitely considered it. On multiple occasions, I’ve strolled past a wedding shindig at a hotel, surveyed their food choices and dance floor, and thought, “I wonder if anyone would know that I don’t belong there?”
But in the end, my fear of being tapped on the shoulder by a self-appointed bouncer has kept me from entering those parties.
What I have done—many times—is decline or even ignore invitations to wedding receptions that turned out to be outrageously joyful events. (“Doug, you should have been there! Everyone from our college days showed up. We had a blast reminiscing about our sophomore year, and Eric wowed the crowd by pulling out his wacky dance moves.”)
Reports like these have made me wonder, “What was I doing that day that kept me from joining the party?” I’m guessing everyone’s had regrets like this when they’ve missed out on a fun gathering. That’s why we can identify with Christ’s message in Luke 14.
Jesus is here talking about a “great banquet,” which symbolizes the earthly arrival of God’s Kingdom (and the offer of ongoing, joyful fellowship with Him)! But He warned of three different distractions that threaten to keep people from seeking and enjoying God:
(1) “Land”—The distraction of possessions (and, perhaps, an over-attention to the accumulation of “more”).
(2) “Oxen”—Of course, a farmer had to work his oxen. And all of us today need to work in some capacity. But many of us don’t know when to stop working. (There are always more drafts to write, emails to send, text messages to check, etc.)
(3) “Spouse” and relationships—While it is godly to honor a spouse (and others), it is destructive to be overly-focused on people (and on what they may think of us, do for us, or do to us).
It’s helpful to note that there is nothing inherently sinful in land, oxen, or a spouse. In fact, each is created to be an enjoyable gift from God; and we are to praise Him for them. But problems arise when we value and seek the gifts more than we value and seek the Giver of all good gifts.
As Pastor John Piper once observed, “The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. For when simple pleasures replace an appetite for God Himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.”
Great gifts can fill my mind and schedule so that I say, “No thanks” to my Creator’s invitation to spend time with Him in the Scriptures and in prayer.
But when I ignore Him, I am missing His banquet of love and joy!
Luke 14 reminds us of the facts: We have been invited to His banquet; He wants us with Him because (by Christ’s grace) we belong to Him and with Him!
During this Lenten season, may God give us great delights from His banquet of peace, love, and joy as we spend time with Him.
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for running to so many things and people rather than to You for my deepest needs and joy. Help me to jump off the northern Virginia “treadmill of activity” so that I may enjoy You! Slow down my mind and heart, so that I may rest in You and in Your goodness. In Psalm 34, You invite me to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Grant me the spiritual eyes and the spiritual taste buds to savor You today in palpable ways. Amen.
Doug and Janea Weber (and their daughter, Abigail) have attended The Falls Church Anglican since moving to northern Virginia in 2012. Doug ministers with The Navigators in the Capitol, helping public servants apply biblical principles to their personal, family and professional lives.