1. Jesus spoke this parable during His Perean ministry several months before His suffering, death and resurrection. He spoke it again, in a slightly different form, at Mt. 22:1-10 just a few days before He died. The Romans said: "Repetition is the mother of studies."
2. In vss. 16-17, we have the invitation; in vss. 18-20, the excuses; and in vss. 21-24, the result. It is a wonderful parable of someone inviting people to a great dinner. Vss. 16-22 cover the OT period and vss. 23-24 the NT mission to both Jews and Gentiles. The final judgment is pictured in vs. 24.
3. Vs. 16 reads literally: "A certain man was preparing a large dinner." This pictures the Gospel in the OT. Vs. 17 reads: "And he sent his servant at the time of the dinner to say to those who had been invited 'Come'." The servant could be either the Baptist or Jesus, both of whom said: "Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is here." Mt. 3:2; 4:17. The dinner is the Gospel of Jesus. The Jews had already been invited many times in the OT. Jesus' message was: "All is ready."
4. Vss. 18-20 record shallow and ridiculous excuses. Who would so foolishly buy a field without first examining it? A pair of oxen in our day would cost about $10,000. Who would be so foolish as to buy a pair of oxen without first knowing what they were like? The excuse of the third man in vs. 20 brings out clearly that this speaks of the OT. Deut. 24:5 (which is clearly referred to here) allowed a man, just married, to be free of business for one year. That was political, not moral, law. It was no excuse for not hearing the Gospel.
5. To this day people make shallow and ridiculous excuses such as these found in vss. 18-20. What child would be so foolish as to refuse to attend a good dinner? But sinful people are often just that foolish when it comes to the invitation of the Gospel.
6. The servant in vs. 21 represents either the Baptist or Christ reporting to the heavenly Father. His reaction is rightly anger. Cf. Jesus' poignant words at Lk. 19:41-44; Mt. 23:37; Lk. 13:34 and the warning at Lk. 21:20-24. The poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind in vs. 21 denote the publicans, harlots and sinners whom Jesus sought out when the Jews and their religious authorities rejected Him. Christ is the Help of the helpless, the Hope of the hopeless, the Riches of the poor, the Righteousness of the unrighteous, and the Life of the dead. He sought them out everywhere. Vs. 21 ends with "bring them here." No man comes to the Father unless Christ draws him. Read Jn. 12:32 and 14:6.
7. Vs. 22 pictures the endless vastness of the eternal Kingdom of God. There is always room for more people.
8. In application vs. 23 clearly denotes the mission of the church to the Gentiles. The word "compel" suggests that the invited are helpless, that they consider themselves unworthy and the urgency for evangelizing the Gentiles. St. Paul says at II Tim. 4:2: "Preach the Word, be ready whether it is convenient or not convenient, correct, rebuke, encourage, be very patient and thorough in your teaching." And at Rom. 1:16-17 Paul says: "I have an obligation both to Greeks and non-Greeks, to the wise and the foolish. . . . For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is God's power to save everyone who believes it."
9. A few minor manuscripts add these words to vs. 24: "For many are called but few are chosen." The Russian Bible published by Druckhaus Gummersbach in 1991 includes these words. However the Slavic Gospel Association of 1990 does not include these words. Very likely these words were imported from Mt. 22:14 by a scribe.
10. This parable does not say that the Jews are no longer invited to partake of the banquet of the Gospel. Where there is life there is hope. Never close the door of the Gospel to anyone. If a person rejects the invitation of the Gospel it is his own fault. But if he accepts, all glory and credit must be given to God alone.
THEME: JESUS TEACHES A HEARER A. LESSON
Vs. 16 tells us that Jesus' parable is directed to one person. It is clear from vs. 15 that this hearer had misunderstood Jesus. Jesus had spoken the parable in vss. 12-14 about showing love to destitute people. True Christians are blessed both in faith and works. But one hearer (vs. 15) limited this blessedness to the life to come. Jesus then shows him the blessedness already in this life.
I. THE THINKING OF THIS HEARER Vs. 15
A. Jesus does not deny what he said in vs. 15. This word "blessed" (makarios in Greek) in the NT always denotes the relationship of the redeemed believer to the Lord. Cf. Mt. 5:3- 11. It is true that Christians will be blessed in everlasting life. Cf. Rev. 14:3. Jesus does not say that this hearer was incorrect in what he said.
B. But Jesus had meant more than that in vs. 14. Evidently Jesus' host customarily invited only his relatives, neighbors and wealthy friends to dinner. They were the people who would return the invitation with another invitation. True children of God do more than that. Jesus told His host that he should also invite the poor, the maimed and the blind. They would not be able to repay the host. Jesus then says in vs. 14: "You will be blessed because they cannot repay you. And what's more you will be repaid when the just rise from the dead." God rewards the deeds of His children. The deeds do not save them but God does reward them. Evidently this hearer thought that Jesus was limiting the word "blessed" to the life to come. Jesus now corrects him.
II. JESUS CORRECTS THE THINKING OF THIS HEARER
A. The parable is addressed only to the hearer. Vs. 16 reads: "But Jesus said to him." The parable in vs. 7 was addressed to all the guests at this dinner to which Jesus had been invited. See vs. 1. They lacked humility. The parable in vs. 12 was addressed to the host because he had limited his list of guests to those who would return the favor. And Jesus addresses the parable of vss. 16-24 to the guest who spoke vs. 15. What he said was true. But evidently he did not realize that true blessedness begins already in this life.
B. All things are already prepared. Nothing needs to be added for our salvation because all things are already prepared, vs. 17. Just as in the original Greek, the Russian word yske in vs. 17 can mean either "already" or "now". In either case, nothing needs to be added. Jesus is telling the man of vs. 15 that the blessedness of being God's child is already prepared in this life. For example at Lk. 11:28 Jesus said: "Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it." And Rev. 14:13: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." The whole life and eternal life of believers in Christ is blessed, God-pleasing.
C. This is for all people. God sends out His messengers again and again in all places seeking all kinds of people, no matter how poor or useless they may appear.
D. Jesus warns us in this text. We are told that God is very angry with people who give Him empty excuses. Sinful man very foolishly often rejects God's invitations to the dinner of the Gospel. Even then God urgently keeps on inviting them.
E. The result of rejection. If people continue to reject they will not taste the dinner either in this life nor in the life to come.
Read vs. 1 of this chapter. Jesus had been invited to the house of a Pharisee to eat. He criticized all the guests in vss. 7-11 because they lacked humility. He criticized His host in vss. 12-14 because he invited only those who could return the favor. Then, in answer to one hearer in vs. 15 Jesus tells all of them that unless they would attend the dinner of the Gospel, they would be lost.