The Great Supper
“And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed [is] he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one [consent] began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” (Luke 14:15-24)
Our Lord Jesus is in the house of one of the chief Pharisees. He had performed a great miracle on the sabbath day, healing a man of the dropsy. The Pharisees and religious legalists, of course, were terribly offended by that act of mercy (vv. 1-6). Then, the Master gave out a parable declaring His method of grace and salvation (vv. 7-11). In verses 12-14, He very pointedly applied the parable, speaking directly to the Pharisee who had invited him to dinner, exposing that man’s hypocrisy. There was at least one man in the crowd who heard and understood what the Savior was saying. When he heard the Savior’s words, that man said to the Master, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God” (v. 15). It is in response to that man’s assertion that our Lord spoke the parable recorded in verses 16-24. This is a parable full of instruction. May God the Holy Spirit now teach us its meaning and apply it to our hearts.
A Great Supper
“Then said he unto him” — to the man who had declared, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” — “A certain man made a great supper.” — This is not the Lord’s Supper, which had not yet been established. And this is not the marriage supper of the Lamb, which will take place at the end of time. This great supper is the Gospel feast of the boundless grace of God set before poor, needy, hungry sinners in the preaching of the Gospel.
It is called a "supper," because it is made in the end of the world, in the last days. It is called a "great supper," because He who made the supper is the King of kings, and Lord of lords. It is a great supper, a feast of fat things, of wine upon lees well refined. This great, Gospel feast is a supper provided by the great God, spread at great cost (the precious blood of Christ), a supper with great provisions of mercy, love, and grace, a supper for great sinners with great needs, a supper for a great multitude, and a supper that is to last a great time, until the end of time.
“And bade many” — Certainly, the reference here is to the Jews, the many physical descendants of Abraham, to whom alone God sent the Gospel throughout the Old Testament. By the law and the Prophets, by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Himself, and by the Apostles, the people of Israel were bidden to the supper and refused to come, refused to believe God. But we dare not limit the parable’s message to the Jews. This word from God our Savior is to be applied to all who are privileged to hear the Gospel of the grace of God. The King of Heaven has made a great supper and bids you and me come to the supper.
“And sent his servant at supper time” — The servant here may refer to John the Baptist, or to the Lord Jesus, to the Apostles of Christ, or to the Spirit of God. Certainly, the servant is representative of every servant of God who is sent forth to preach the Gospel of the grace of God to perishing sinners. — “To say to them that were bidden, come” — Gospel preachers are God’s servants, sent forth into the world to call sinners to the table of grace, to call sinners to Christ.
And all God’s servants proclaim a feast of God’s providing — “for all things are now ready.” For all who come to the feast, for all who trust Him, there is in the Lord Jesus Christ a righteousness ready to wear, pardon freely bestowed, a redemption fully accomplished, and a full and perfect everlasting salvation. There is in Christ a sonship for sinners in union with Him. But this is one wedding feast at which no gifts are accepted. Everything is freely provided!
Excuses for Unbelief
“And they all with one consent began to make excuse” — Unbelievable as it may appear, all who are called to Christ make excuses not to come. And all who are called make the same excuses. All who are called of God by the Gospel to life and salvation in Christ, all who are called to believe on the Son of God, all who are bidden to follow Christ, have (in their own minds) completely reasonable excuses for disobedience. Rather than praying to God for mercy, they say, “I pray thee have me excused!”
“The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it.” What fool would buy a piece of ground, and then go see it? He bought a piece of ground from a man without seeing it. What confidence he must have had in that man. But he has no confidence in God! The second was worse. “And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them.” He bought five yoke of oxen without knowing whether they could bear a yoke or pull a cart, taking a man’s word for it. Men will do that; but none will believe God! The excuse made by the third man is the worst of the three. “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.” Had he said, I will not come, he would at least have told the truth.
It is not only man’s impotence that keeps him from Christ, but also his will. He has no will to trust the Son of God. It is true that no man can come to Christ, except as God gives him grace to come (John 6:44). Yet, none will come (John 5:40). That is a matter of personal, deliberate choice and responsibility for which all will be held accountable in the Day of Judgment (Proverbs 1:23-33).
He who has married a wife is doubly responsible to come to the feast. He is responsible for himself and his wife. If his wife will not come, he is a fool to let her keep him away. They that have wives must be as though they had none. We must not allow carnal unions, sentiments, and affections to keep us from following Christ. Adam paid a very high price for hearkening to the voice of his wife. Our Lord requires that we forsake husbands and wives, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, as well as houses and lands, if we would be His disciples.
The Servant’s Report
“So that servant came and showed his Lord these things” — Gospel preachers watch over the souls of men as those who must give account (Hebrews 13:7, 17). — “Then the master of the house being angry” — Multitudes think it is a light thing to trample the blood of Christ under their feet, but that will not always be the case. God almighty will soon make all men see how offensive unbelief is to Him (Proverbs 1:23-33; 29:1).
“And said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city; and bring in hither the poor” — We preach the Gospel to the poor, those who have no bread for their souls, those who have no righteous garments, but only filthy rags, those who have no money to buy, no means to pay their debt. That is to say, the Gospel of God’s free grace in Christ is good news to those who are poor in spirit.
“And the maimed” — Grace is for the needy, poor, impotent, helpless sinners, without strength, without hope, without life, without help. — “And the halt” — Christ saves the lost, those who are halting because they do not know where to go for grace and mercy and help, and do not know the way. Sinners are not only poor, lost, and ignorant, but cripple too, being maimed by a terrible fall. — “And the blind” — Yes, the Lord God bids us go out and call poor, maimed, halt, blind sinners to the feast of grace, the blind who cannot see, the halt who cannot come, and the poor who have nothing to bring!
Plenty of Room
“And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded; and yet there is room.” There is plenty of room in the house of grace and plenty of bread for hungry sinners. In Revelation 4 John saw twenty-four seats around the throne of God. Each of these seats were filled with the twenty-four elders sitting before the throne. They were all clothed with white garments, and they all wore crowns of pure gold on their heads. The twenty-four elders represent the whole church of God. As the twelve patriarchs represent the whole church of the Old Testament and the twelve apostles represent the whole church of the New testament, these twenty-four elders represent all of God's elect, the whole church of God, the Israel of God (Revelation 21:12-14). I call your attention to this because it must be clearly understood that every seat around the throne is filled. Not one of God's elect will be missing in that great day when Christ presents his redeemed ones in glory. Every chosen sinner, every soul for whom Christ shed His blood at Calvary, every sinner called by the efficacious, irresistible grace and power of God the Holy Spirit will be seated before the Triune Jehovah in eternal glory.
Having said that as plainly as I know how, it must be understood and declared by all who preach the Gospel that there is plenty of room at the table of grace for any and all who come to Christ. — “Whosoever will, let him come!”
Still, we are fully aware that none to whom we preach the Gospel will come to Christ until compelled by the irresistible grace of God the Holy Spirit in effectual calling. We read in verse 23 — “And the Lord said unto the servant go out into the highways and hedges: and compel them to come in.” Without question, none but God the Spirit can effectually compel lost sinners to come to the Savior. Yet, this command in the parable before us must be applied to Gospel preachers, too. Yes, we are to compel, persuade, and force sinners by the persuasive preaching of the Gospel to come to Christ (2 Corinthians 4:18-6:2).
This shows us, as John Gill rightly observed, “the nature of the Gospel ministry, which is to persuade Japheth to dwell in the tents of Shem; and the power that attends it by the Divine Spirit; the case and condition of souls, who are generally bashful and backward, judging themselves unworthy; as also the earnest desire, and great liberality of Christ, the Master of the feast.”
“That my house may be filled” — And filled it shall be! God’s house shall be filled with chosen, redeemed sinners, as a sheepfold filled with a flock of sheep. And each one shall be filled with grace and glory. “And so all Israel shall be saved.”
“For I say unto you, that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper.” There is an infinite, boundless provision of grace in Christ for all who want it (Isaiah 55:1; Matthew 11:28-30; John 6:37; 7:37). Christ is the Bread on the table. All who are hungry are welcome to eat. Christ is the Water of Life. All who are thirsty are welcome to drink. If you perish in your sins, if you go to hell, if you will not come to the bounteous feast of grace, you will have no one to blame but yourself. Then your lands and oxen and relations will be fuel for the fires of your everlasting torment. May God the Holy Spirit sweetly force you to come to the Lord Jesus!
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 Though there are clearly points of similarity between this and the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22, these are two distinct parables, spoken on two separate occasions.
 A. W. Pink wrote, “In Luke 14:16 we read, “A certain man made a great supper, and bade many.” By comparing carefully what follows here with Matthew 22:2-10 several important distinctions will be observed. We take it that these passages are two independent accounts of the same parable, differing in detail according to the distinctive purpose and design of the Holy Spirit in each Gospel. Matthew’s account — in harmony with the Spirit’s presentation there of Christ as the Son of David, the King of the Jews — says, “A certain king made a marriage for his son.” Luke’s account — where the Spirit presents Christ as the Son of Man — says, “A certain man made a great supper and bade many.” Matthew 22:3 says, “And sent forth His servants;” Luke 14:17 says, “And sent His servant.” Now what we wish particularly to call attention to is, that all through Matthew’s account it is “servants,” whereas in Luke it is always “servant.” The class of readers for whom we are writing are those that believe unreservedly, in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, and such will readily acknowledge that there must be some reason for this change from the plural number in Matthew to the singular one in Luke. We believe the reason is a weighty one and that attention to this variation reveals an important truth. We believe that the servants in Matthew, speaking generally, are all who go forth preaching the Gospel, but that the “Servant” in Luke 14 is the Holy Spirit Himself. This is not incongruous, or derogatory to the Holy Spirit, for God the Son, in the days of His earthly ministry, was the Servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 42:1). It will be observed that in Matthew 22 the “servants” are sent forth to do three things: first, to “call” to the wedding (v. 3); second, to “tell those which are bidden ... all things are ready; come unto the marriage (v. 4); third, to “bid to the marriage” (v. 9); and these three are the things which those who minister the Gospel today are now doing. In Luke 14 the Servant is also sent forth to do three things: first, He is “to say to them that were bidden, Come: for all things are now ready” (v. 17); second, He is to “bring in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind” (v. 21); third, He is to “compel them to come in” (v. 25), and the last two of these the Holy Spirit alone can do!
In the above scripture we see that “the Servant,” the Holy Spirit, compels certain ones to come into the “supper” and herein is seen His sovereignty, His omnipotency, His divine sufficiency. The clear implication from this word “compel” is, that those whom the Holy Spirit does “bring in” are not willing of themselves to come.”