The Parable of the Great Banquet

Luke 14:16-24 ESV

In the above parable there are two groups mentioned who are invited separately in the parable of the great banquet.The first group rejects the invitation which subsequently leads to the second group being called up.It seems the invitation of the second group was precipitated by the rejection of the first group

Would the rich man have extended the invitation to the second group if it had not been rejected by the first?


What is key is the phrase "at the time for the banquet" (τῇ ὥρᾳ τοῦ δείπνου). Thus, everything was already prepared and would go to waste if no one came to the banquet. If he had found out earlier, before the food would be wasted, he probably would have looked to invite others. He had the choice: let all the food be wasted, or find others to come to the banquet. Besides being the benevolent thing to do, it would probably an embarrassment to the rich man to prepare a feast and no one showed up.

The reason the banquet was already prepared:

14:17. Invitations were often R.S.V.P.; thus these invited guests had already confirmed that they were coming. -- Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Lk 14:17). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

The introduction, “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many,” brings the reader/listener at once to the topic of the great banquet. In a traditional Middle Eastern village the host of a banquet invites a group of his friends. On the basis of the number of people who accept the invitation, he decides how much and what kind of meat he will serve. On the day of the banquet animals or fowl are butchered and the banquet prepared. When everything is ready the master will send his servant around the village with the classical phrase, “Please come, everything is ready.” The language of the parable is still used today. ... Yesterday, the guests pledged themselves to attend the banquet. Today, after the food has been cooked, they offer excuses for not attending. -- Bailey, K. E. (2008). Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (p. 313-314). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

For all the guests to say they can't come at the last minute sounds like a deliberate attempt to embarrass the man giving the banquet.

If only one guest backs out, the banquet can proceed. But if there is collusion between the guests and they all withdraw, it will be clear that the guests intend to shut down the banquet. Notice that the first guest speaks to the servant as though he were addressing the master. The servant so totally represents the master that this kind of language is used. -- Bailey, K. E. (2008). Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (p. 315). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

So, the master's reaction was:

The servant knows and the master quickly discovers that the guests’ intent is to humiliate the host and prevent the banquet from taking place. On hearing the servant’s report the master becomes angry! The question of the hour is: What will he do with this anger? The master’s response is truly “amazing grace.”

5.      So the servant came and reported this to his master.
Then the householder in anger said to his servant,
‘Go out quickly
into the streets and lanes of the city.
Bring in the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’

ANGER Turned Into GRACE -- Bailey, K. E. (2008). Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (p. 316). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

  • ,If the intention was to invite both groups why not do it simultaneously Sep 20 at 9:40
  • Where do you get that intent? A parable isn't meant to become an allegory.
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 20 at 9:54
  • Remember the banquet was prepared for those who accepted the first invitation. Others could have been invited but didn't accept the first invitation.
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 20 at 14:54

Would the rich man have extended the invitation to the second group if it had not been rejected by the first group in Luke 14:16-24?

The answer to your question is NO" Why?

The banquet is an invitation for the " holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling" ( Hebrews 3:1 NASB). Jesus reveals that a relatively small number "little flock" of humans will be seeking God's Kingdom,they have Jesus' assurance " Do not be afraid, little flock because your Father has chosen to give you the kingdom."[ Luke 12:32 NASB]

The Parable:

The man giving the dinner is :God [Vs 16]

His slave: Is Jesus [Vs17]

1 st. Call: To the Jews, especially the religious leaders [Vs 16-17]

2 nd. Call: To the Jewish nation and the proselytes [Vs 21 ]

3 rd. Call: To the nations -Gentiles [Vs 23] [ Read Acts 10: 28-48]

So that my house will be filled

Luke 14:23 NET

23 So the master said to his slave, ‘Go out to the highways and country roads and urge people[ca] to come in, so that my house will be filled

The last part of verse 23 says "so that my house will be filled" , therefore, when the complete number of invitations are accepted, the banquet doors will close. The call is still continuing in our days.

John in his book of Revelation 14:1-4 attests that 144,000 "little flock" are sealed by God, by means of his spirit:[ 2 Cor. 1:21-22]

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NASB

21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge

Revelation 14:1-4 NASB

The Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Zion

1 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000 who had His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. 3 And they *sang [a]a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to learn the song except the 144,000 who had been purchased from the earth. 4 These are the ones who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are celibate. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from mankind as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.

Revelation 7:4 NASB

4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

  • Ozzie,it seems in the parable only two groups were invited Sep 20 at 10:13
  • 1
    Collen ndhlovu : No, there were three calls, as noted in my answer. Sep 20 at 14:38

It is easy to imagine that the rich man of the story probably would not have invited the poor, or people from the highways, to his banquet had his original guests shown up. However, that is a hypothetical and uninformative as to God's intentions for Israel and the Gentiles.

All metaphors have limitations and some metaphors are meant to extend more deeply than others. The parable of the prodigal son has turned out to be quite deep, and many sermons have been preached over the years on all aspects of it.

This parable is a little different. Here, Jesus is not only acting as a teacher but also as a prophet. He exhorts the Pharisees to repentance, by likening them to the invited guests, but he also foretells what will happen starting in only a few years' time. The Pharisee establishment (the guests) will reject the Messiah of the Jewish people. Many of the lowly within Judaism, foreigners who live in Judea, and some Samaritans (the poor, blind, lame) will accept Him. And God will pour out His Spirit on them and on the faithful Gentiles (those on the highways).

Because this parable is a combination of moral teaching and prophecy, to ask what would have happened if the guests had come carries implications well beyond the parable itself. It is the same as to ask, if the Pharisee establishment had accepted Jesus as Messiah, would the Holy Spirit have been poured out on the Gentiles? I am not sure whether that question is even fully answerable. Many Christian teachers are of the opinion that the prophet Joel foretold this:

It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

Accepting this meaning of Joel 2:28-29 for the moment, that would imply that by the time Jesus gave this parable, the written Word of God already contained foreknowledge of what would take place. Therefore, any other outcome was impossible. Jesus would be rejected in Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit would be poured out on the faithful Gentiles.

But what if the events of Acts 10 and beyond are not what the prophet Joel was referring to? Even then a case can be made; the prophets Isaiah and Zechariah certainly foretold a rejected Messiah, and even the Abrahamic Covenant promises that the nation of Israel would serve as a means for God's blessings to reach the Gentiles (Genesis 12:3) - the Jewish people, in essence, will have a priestly role towards the world at large.

So in my opinion, even if it were possible that the guests (the Pharisees) appear at the banquet (relationship with God through Jesus the Messiah), the rich man (God the Father) might not have sent the servant (Jesus, the Apostles, and the Church) into the highways (the Gentile nations). But those people still would have somehow shared in the bounty a different way. But exactly how that might have happened is exceedingly hypothetical, and obviated by prophetic foresight in the written Word, and well beyond the scope of the parable.


Would the rich man have extended the invitation to the second group if it had not been rejected by the first group in Luke 14:16-24?

Yes, 3 verses earlier in Luke 14:

13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

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