Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. How many graduations, weddings, showers, and parties have you been invited to in the past three months? How did you decide which ones to attend?
2. How do you go about planning a party? How do you decide what to serve, how to decorate, and whom to invite?
Read Luke 14:15-17.
1. Jesus often told parables in response to comments from the crowd. What comment prompted this parable? Skim through Luke 14:1-14 and summarize the setting of this exchange. What issues did Jesus address?
2. It’s common to send a “save the date” card to people before sending an actual invitation. What is the purpose of such a card? How do the events in these verses parallel the modern practice?
Read Luke 14:18-20.
3. In the parable, what excuses did people give for not attending the banquet? Since it is clear that the guests had known about the event in advance, what attitudes were communicated by the excuses?
4. What does the great banquet represent? How are the excuses in the parable like excuses people give today for not making time with God a priority?
Read Luke 14:21-24.
5. Take a moment to picture this improbable banquet. Many in Jesus’ audience probably imagined the “feast in the kingdom of God” to be a formal affair for the “beautiful people” of the day. Why might the people in Jesus’ audience have laughed when they thought of the banquet he described? Why would others have been angry?
6. Remind yourself of the setting Jesus was in when he told this parable (Luke 14:1). When Jesus asserted that not one of the original invitees to the banquet would be there to enjoy it, what was he saying?
7. Underline the phrase “that my house may be full” in verse 23. How would the nature of your congregation be different if that were your goal? What steps can be taken to reach that goal?