In this lesson, we will explore Jesus’ Parable of the Great Feast in Luke 14:15-24 and learn of God’s wonderful invitation. This lesson relates to pre-teens and teens, and by the end of this lesson, they should have learned about the following:
- We must be ready.
- God’s invitation is for all people.
- God’s invitation is free.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Luke 14:15-24
MEMORY VERSE: At the time of the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ (Luke 14:17)
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BIBLE STUDY NOTES FOR TEENS
The Parable of the Great Feast is found in Luke 14:15-24. While it is similar to the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14), there are some significant differences.
Jesus had been invited for Sabbath dinner at the home of a leading Pharisee. The house would have been filled with socially prominent guests, many of whom were also Pharisees and Jewish Law experts.
During the meal, Jesus heals a man suffering from dropsy (the build-up of fluid in the body’s tissues) and then comments on the social-climbing endeavours of guests who take the best seat at the table to advance their status. Jesus says it is better to invite those who can’t repay you and receive a reward from God.
After listening to Jesus, one of the guests at the Sabbath dinner comments, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
It is here that Jesus replies with The Parable of the Great Feast.
1. WE MUST BE READY (LUKE 14:17)
At first reading, we might think it was unreasonable for the master to expect his guests to drop everything and come to his feast without warning.
However, in Jesus’ day, an invitation was two-fold. Firstly, there was the initial invitation some time ahead, and sometime later, the actual summons to the meal when everything was ready—something like when your mother asks you if you’re hungry and want food. Then calls you when it’s prepared and on the table.
In the parable, the guests make excuses. Jesus gives us three examples. The first just bought a field and must inspect it. The second has just bought five pairs of oxen and must try them out. The third guest just got married.
None of these reasons would have been unplanned and a surprise. The men would have remembered accepting the man’s initial invitation but didn’t plan accordingly. The people around the table with Jesus would have understood it as calculated rudeness.
Imagine sending out invitations to your friends for a special party. They respond that they would love to come. You hire the room, prepare the food, sort the entertainment, and then no one arrives on the day. Everyone has found something better to do. How would you feel?
Through the parables, Jesus tells us time after time, “Be ready.” We are to live expecting and prepare for Jesus’ return.
In contrast, the second group didn’t give excuses., The poor man could have said, “I don’t have any tidy clothes.” The disabled man could say, “I can’t walk.” Yet, they made themselves ready for this wonderful invitation.
2. GOD’S INVITATION IS FOR EVERYONE (LUKE 14:16, 21-23)
The master invited his original guests, sent his servant out to the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame and then, when there was still room, he sent the servant to the highways and country lanes.
The list is identical to the list Jesus had suggested in verse 13. They were people who could not repay. The Pharisees who were at Sabbath dinner with Jesus despised these people.
Jesus is reminding the social elite that God is full of grace. In Revelation 7:9, we read of a great multitude which no one can count from every nation and tribe and people and tongue. God’s invitation is for a select few who have earned their place. God’s invitation is for every person from every race, regardless of their social status, wealth, sins and guilt, to turn to Him for salvation.
We must guard our hearts against becoming ‘elite’ and excluding others from the gospel. Are there people who we think that ‘Jesus is not for them’ or ‘they are too far from God?’
No one is too different, sinful, good, or religious not to be invited to Jesus’ call to salvation. Jesus said in Luke 13:29, “people will come from all over the world from east and west, north and south to take their places in the Kingdom of God.”
3. GOD’S INVITATION IS FREE (LUKE 14:21)
Have you ever wanted to attend a special event but couldn’t afford the ticket? The invitation in the parable is not to a fundraiser meal with a minimum donation. It’s not even for a shared dinner where you must bring a dish, dessert, or drink. The master in the parable sends the invitation saying, “everything is ready, come, enjoy!”
This is a beautiful picture of the gospel invitation. The poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame had nothing to give, but were invited to the banquet anyway. We can receive no greater invitation than the free invitation of the gospel, salvation through Jesus and eternal life with Him.
Furthermore, there is nothing we can add to our salvation. The Bible is clear that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The feast was ready and prepared. Our salvation is ready by the finished work of Jesus on the cross. There is nothing we can do or bring.
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
4. A BAD EXCHANGE (LUKE 14:24)
There was a wonderful invitation given in the parable. The man had prepared a wonderful feast for his friends to enjoy. But rather than enjoying all the man had prepared for them, the first guest swapped it for what seemed to be best in their eyes at that moment.
Do you often make a similar mistake? God invites us to walk with Him daily. To spend time reading and listening to Him speak as we read our Bible. To spend time in prayer and fellowship with Him through our devotions. To serve and share the gospel with the lost. Yet, too often we exchange the wonderful things God has planned for us for something less, that seem more important in the moment (Thirty extra minutes in bed, a shopping trip with friends or watch some show on TV.)
Further, some people choose to ignore and make excuses to reject God’s invitation all together.
Some think they are good enough and see no need of a saviour. Others fear rejection from their friends. There are many others who just find the world too appealing.
Whatever the reasons, this parable gives as stern warning. Verse 24, “not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’
The only way to enjoy an eternity with God is to accept His invitation of salvation through Jesus.
CONCLUSION Through this parable, Jesus is showing us a God full of grace who invites the unworthy into the feast He has prepared. There is nothing we can do to earn our place at His table and the invitation is for all who will accept it. We must carefully consider any excuses we might make in response to God’s invitation as the consequences are eternal.
YOUTH GAMES AND ACTIVITIES FOR THE PARABLE OF THE GREAT FEAST
WHAT IS MISSING FROM THE FEAST?
- Set up a party table with plates, knives, forks, spoons, cups, food, drinks etc.
- Have everyone turn around while you remove one item from the table.
- Players should then figure out what item is missing from the table.
- Take turns to remove things.
WHO IS MISSING FROM THE PARTY?
- Write out the names or print pictures of famous people.
- Allow everyone some time to look at the images or names before removing them.
- Next, have one player pick one of the famous people and keep them hidden.
- The other players should ask yes and no questions to guess who is on the paper.
- Have all players write their names on pieces of paper. Fold and place them in a bowl.
- Ask the players to spread out around the room.
- Choose one player to be the servant.
- They should pick three names out of the bowl.
- On “go”, they should deliver the name to the correct person as quickly as possible.
- Repeat with other players as the master.
- Time the players to see who can do it the quickest.
Any party game will work well with this lesson. Pick some favourites such as pass the parcel, musical statues, or hitting a Piñata.