THe Marriage Feast

In Luke chapter fourteen, verses sixteen through twenty-four, Jesus speaks to
the crowds about the parable of “The Marriage Feast.” The parable itself
begins with a certain man who gives a great supper and extends his invitation to
the rich and well to do. However, those invited begin to make excuses. One had
bought a piece of ground and said he must go see it. Another had bought five
yoke of oxen and wanted to test them. A third said he had just gotten married
and could not come. The master, being angry, sends his servants to go out and
invite others. At first the poor, maimed, lame and blind are invited and arrive
in the man’s house. There is still room left in the man\'s house so the
servants are sent out again to invite those among the bushes of the roads and
sideways to come. Those invited who made excuses would not eat his supper that
he had prepared. I believe this invitation to the banquet is symbolical of the
invitation to eternal life through the gospel message. Jesus uses the figure of
the banquet to illustrate the "feast” in the kingdom of God were people
will come from all over to take their places at the feast of eternal life with
God. Two scholarly interpretations of this parable are described below.

Wilfrid J. Harington argues in his book, A Key to the Parables, that “The
Great Feast” is used as a metaphor in Luke’s gospel. According to Harington
the point of the parable is the refusal of the wealthy guests that were invited
and the replacement of them by the poor and lame. Those that are within the city
are the sinners. These consist of the scribes and Pharisees who are like the
guests who received the invitation and did not accept it. The invitation to
those outside the city refers to the Gentiles. Herington believes that this is
to show how God has called the poor and outcasts and has offered them the
salvation that the scribes and Pharisees had rejected. Harington also agrees
that the two stories of “The Great Feast” are basically the same in Matthew’s
and in Luke’s Gospels. Both Luke and Matthew both give a warning to the
scribes and Pharisees that their place in heaven is going to be given up to
others, namely the blind, poor and lame. One of the differences in Matthew is
the added detail that Luke does not contain. In Matthew there is a king that has
prepared the great feast for his son. The servants sent out to invite theses
people are the servants are beaten and some are killed. The king became furious
at this and destroys the city. In Matthew the king is God. The wedding feast is
a messianic blessedness. The king’s son is the Messiah, and the messengers are
the prophets and the Apostles. The guests who ignored the invitation and
maltreated the servants are the Jews. The burned city is Jerusalem and those who
are called are the pagans.

Another interpreter, Frederick Howk Borsch, argues in his book, Many Things
in Parables, that Luke’s version of the parable can be described as more
secular, for it does not have many of the details that Matthew uses for his
salvation-history allegory. Borsch describes how the eating together was a way
of establishing community, offering hospitality, and building trust and
friendship in that era. The actions of inviting people to a meal and accepting
the invitation were full of significance of the general hospitality that was
known in that era. Borsch explains how the most important part of the parable is
the context. He goes on to explain how the context advises readers to invite the
poor, maimed, lame, and blind to their dinners rather than friends, relatives,
and the wealthy. Borsch is telling that true charity and hospitality was known
in Judaism in that time. They did not invite people based on receiving a favor
in return. It was based on the true charity that was and still is imbedded in
their culture. Borsch tells how Luke shows that the intended guests were
individuals of wealth. Only after this plan fails is the poor, lame, and blind
invited. It is anger rather than charity that provides the host’s motivation.
The banquet parable provides a defense by suggesting that it is the outcasts who
are to participate in the age to come. Borsch believes that Luke’s parable
seems more interested in those who are finally included than the guests who
refuse