As we continue our consideration of the parable of the wedding banquet, let’s consider the version read in the gospel of Luke.
Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
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(Read this series from its beginning here.)
‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ (Luke 14:16-24)
In Luke’s version, the overall point is that Jesus’ kingdom will be composed of those his society marginalized, excluded, and pushed to the edges and undersides. This parable illustrates a common gospel theme: that the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
The elite, privileged, propertied, and powerful were invited first, and they refused to come. So the gates were swung wide open to anyone in the town’s streets and alleys, including the “poor, the crippled, and the blind, and the lame.” It must be stressed that these people were those Jesus’ society shunned. They were, in economic terms, the lowest of the low, often forced into begging for money and barely surviving.
Luke’s Jesus teaches a vision for our world that is a safe, compassionate, just home especially for those the present system makes vulnerable to harm. In this world, privilege and elitism has no place, and so those who want to hold on to forms of classism find themselves on the outside of Jesus’ kingdom.
Now, with this as our backdrop, let’s consider Matthew’s version.
(Read Part 3)