Welcome and Rejection
When Jesus told a parable, His primary audience was the trainee apostles. But even they did not understand the teaching at the time, even when it was explained to them (Luke 18:31). However, when Jesus had ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit was given, then they understood the teaching which was to be passed on to the church (John 16:12-15; Ephesians 3:5), and in turn to us (John 17:20).
In this parable Father God is depicted as a people-loving and generous host, who wanted to share good things with His people, Israel (Luke 14:15-17). They were invited to the banquet but refused to come – offering feeble excuses. Even though they opted out, the host was still determined to hold the feast which had been prepared, and to hold it on time. The servant in the story is God’s Servant of Isaiah 42:1-4, Jesus the Messiah. As the parable moves on, it is He who was commanded to invite the disreputable people of their society, and then anybody who would believe the invitation and come. The religious elite criticised Jesus for spending time with the fraudsters and immoral people who wanted to hear His message of God’s love (Luke 5:30). He was also despised for attending to the sick, children, women and Gentiles – all people who the religious leaders wrongly thought God did not care about.
This parable has a sense of urgency as well as the open generosity of the host. Jesus wanted people to understand that God was not mean or miserly. He is open-hearted and loving, but His purpose will not be deflected by those who despise His invitation. They did not understand that 'welcome' and 'rejection' are opposite sides of the same coin. So, in His parable, Jesus taught that God, who welcomes those who accept His invitation, is the same God who rejects those who refuse to come when He calls (John 3:16-18).
It is the same today. God's invitation to eternal life through Jesus is not just for the Jews, but for anyone who will listen and believe that God is speaking to them. The sadness remains that those who refuse to believe and obey the gospel will be actively rejected by Father God and excluded from His heaven (Matthew 7:23). That is why sharing the gospel is always prophetic - it announces heaven to those who will believe and hell to those who will not. So, the Apostle Paul says, "Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others." (2 Corinthians 5:11). You can only be a follower of Jesus if you have accepted His invitation to salvation: but once you have, you also have the key to eternal life to share with others. There is still an urgency to announce God’s salvation to anyone who will listen. Although many think that they will go to heaven, if they refuse to trust in Jesus, they will not even get a taste.
© Dr Paul Adams