"A certain man was preparing a great banquet ..." (Luke 14:16-24)

"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.' '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)

Eating bread in the kingdom of God?

Jesus is sitting down at a table eating at a prominent Pharisee's house. From the text, we find there were other "experts in the law" - meaning experts of scripture - at the table with him. After some conversation, one of those "experts" sitting at the table says:
“Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15 NKJV)
While "kingdom" is typically considered a place or location under the rulership, the Greek word it is translated from - βασιλεία (basileia) - does not refer to a place. As stated in the lexicon, it means, "not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom."

As we've discussed previously with the meaning of the word βασιλεία (basileia), the more appropriate understanding of the last phrase would relate to one accepting the dominion of God within one's life. This would be akin to becoming devoted to the Supreme Being.

Jesus responds in kind to the statement of the Pharisee. We can see by Jesus' response that the topic has turned to being in the presence of God. Thus Jesus tells this parable about the great banquet:

What does Jesus' parable about the great banquet mean?

The man who is hosting the banquet symbolizes the Supreme Being, and the servant symbolizes God's representative - in this case, Jesus.

The invitation represents God's reaching out to each of us - through Scripture and through the teachings of His representative whom He sends to call us back to Him. The Supreme Being wants us to come home to Him.

The banquet represents our return to our innate relationship with the Supreme Being. A banquet is appropriate because when one returns to their innate loving relationship with God they find they are not alone. The Supreme Being is surrounded by His loving children who exchange so many different types of relationships with Him. It is like a party and the Supreme Being is the life of the party!

Within the spiritual realm, innumerable parties are going on, each with the Supreme Being being the life of the party. There are so many relationships of different types going on in the spiritual realm. Each of us has a distinct spiritual form and relationship with God. And the Supreme Being expands Himself in such a way that not only is He ever-present within so many of these parties of the spiritual realm - but each person within the spiritual realm is able to exchange a unique relationship with God.

In the physical realm - where those of us who have rejected our relationship with God go - the opposite effect is set up by God: We are left with the sense that God is not present. While He is certainly present here just as He is in the spiritual realm, He has hidden Himself within the physical dimension in order to provide us with the freedom from Him that we have sought.

In other words, we have rejected the Supreme Being so He allowed us to virtually get away from Him for a while. So while He is right here next to each of us, these temporary physical bodies and this virtual dimension of space and time allow us the opportunity to forget His existence.

How does God hide from us?

These physical bodies we occupy are not us. It is like we are astronauts and these physical bodies are like our spaceships: They provide us the means to enter into this dimension. But when these bodies die, we leave them. Where will we go? This is determined by our consciousness: What we desire, combined with our past decisions and actions.

In fact, if we look around us at all the living creatures - the birds, dogs, cats, insects and so many others - we find that these creatures have been afforded the grossest of ignorance: They have completely forgotten that God exists. They have lost the concept that there could even be a Supreme Being.

But those who have risen to the point of the human lifetime do have the ability to conceive of a Supreme Being. Thus we have the unique opportunity to be able to be invited back to our real nature - this is the invitation that Jesus is speaking of in this symbolic parable.

As Jesus' story tells us, many of those who were invited have made up excuses not to go to the banquet. This is because they are not interested in going to the banquet. They have what they consider more important things to do. They want to see their field or test their oxen or get into their relationship.

In other words, they don't consider the banquet to be very important to them. They have better things to do.

Who gets invited?

Those who were invited first symbolize those who have the immediate capacity to reclaim their innate relationship with the Supreme Being. These include those who are learned. Those who are scholarly. Those with higher educations. Those with advanced degrees or other capacities to hear from God's representative and learn about our true nature - who we are, why we are here and what our relationship with God is.

Those who have a keen intellect are invited first so to speak because they have a greater capacity to learn and realize the Truth. Yet we find - as Jesus' parable states - that so many with this greater capacity have 'better things to do' than to return home to our innate loving relationship with God.

So the Supreme Being extends His invitation - His outreach - to anyone and everyone. We don't need to be learned. We don't need to be a scientist or clergy or a philosopher to have God-realization. We don't need to have any special talents or skills. We only need the willingness to accept His invitation and return to our loving relationship with Him.

Thus we find within the physical world that each of us can make a personal choice and choose to accept God's invitation or not. Accepting God's invitation doesn't mean going to a physical place - as people imagine the "kingdom of God." Certainly, there is a spiritual realm, but God is present everywhere. We can exchange a loving relationship with the Supreme Being from where ever we may be - within a temporary physical body in the physical world or within the spiritual realm.

This is the banquet: Loving the Supreme Being. Doing what is pleasing to God.

Do we have this opportunity?

Such is the situation with the invitation that the Supreme Being is extending to each of us who have this unique opportunity to have a human body and the capacity to learn about our identity and our relationship with the Supreme Being: Most of us have better things to do.

Most of us are not concerned about spiritual life. We are more concerned about our material lives. We are concerned about our job. Or becoming a superstar. Or getting that girl or guy into bed. Or getting others to like us on Facebook. Or becoming wealthy. Or having a big family. Or getting that big house with a white picket fence.

Whatever it is, for most of us, these material things are more important than the invitation being extended to us by the Supreme Being.

The parable then has the banquet host telling his servant to invite everyone on the streets - anyone who is poor or crippled and so on. Then to virtually anyone on the road. He wants to invite anyone and everyone, without restriction.

Can we fall in love with God?

Sometimes a person will fall in love with another person, and they will find this feeling to be the greatest feeling in the world. This is why there are so many love songs and movies about falling in love. Because it is considered the pinnacle of our lives.

But falling in love with another person with a physical body is merely a dim reflection of falling in love with the Supreme Being. Falling in love with God is the purest form of bliss that we will ever experience. It is truly what will fulfill us and make us happy. And yet what will make us even happier - should we fall in love with God - is pleasing Him. When a person who loves God pleases Him, they experience the highest form of pleasure. This is why Jesus said:
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." (John 4:34)
"... for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)