THe Marriage Feast


THe Marriage Feast Essay, Research Paper

In Luke chapter fourteen, verses sixteen through twenty-four, Jesus speaks to

the crowds about the parable of ?The Marriage Feast.? The parable itself

begins with a certain man who gives a great supper and extends his invitation to

the rich and well to do. However, those invited begin to make excuses. One had

bought a piece of ground and said he must go see it. Another had bought five

yoke of oxen and wanted to test them. A third said he had just gotten married

and could not come. The master, being angry, sends his servants to go out and

invite others. At first the poor, maimed, lame and blind are invited and arrive

in the man?s house. There is still room left in the man’s house so the

servants are sent out again to invite those among the bushes of the roads and

sideways to come. Those invited who made excuses would not eat his supper that

he had prepared. I believe this invitation to the banquet is symbolical of the

invitation to eternal life through the gospel message. Jesus uses the figure of

the banquet to illustrate the "feast? in the kingdom of God were people

will come from all over to take their places at the feast of eternal life with

God. Two scholarly interpretations of this parable are described below.

Wilfrid J. Harington argues in his book, A Key to the Parables, that ?The

Great Feast? is used as a metaphor in Luke?s gospel. According to Harington

the point of the parable is the refusal of the wealthy guests that were invited

and the replacement of them by the poor and lame. Those that are within the city

are the sinners. These consist of the scribes and Pharisees who are like the

guests who received the invitation and did not accept it. The invitation to

those outside the city refers to the Gentiles. Herington believes that this is

to show how God has called the poor and outcasts and has offered them the

salvation that the scribes and Pharisees had rejected. Harington also agrees

that the two stories of ?The Great Feast? are basically the same in Matthew?s

and in Luke?s Gospels. Both Luke and Matthew both give a warning to the

scribes and Pharisees that their place in heaven is going to be given up to

others, namely the blind, poor and lame. One of the differences in Matthew is

the added detail that Luke does not contain. In Matthew there is a king that has

prepared the great feast for his son. The servants sent out to invite theses

people are the servants are beaten and some are killed. The king became furious

at this and destroys the city. In Matthew the king is God. The wedding feast is

a messianic blessedness. The king?s son is the Messiah, and the messengers are

the prophets and the Apostles. The guests who ignored the invitation and

maltreated the servants are the Jews. The burned city is Jerusalem and those who

are called are the pagans.

Another interpreter, Frederick Howk Borsch, argues in his book, Many Things

in Parables, that Luke?s version of the parable can be described as more

secular, for it does not have many of the details that Matthew uses for his

salvation-history allegory. Borsch describes how the eating together was a way

of establishing community, offering hospitality, and building trust and

friendship in that era. The actions of inviting people to a meal and accepting

the invitation were full of significance of the general hospitality that was

known in that era. Borsch explains how the most important part of the parable is

the context. He goes on to explain how the context advises readers to invite the

poor, maimed, lame, and blind to their dinners rather than friends, relatives,

and the wealthy. Borsch is telling that true charity and hospitality was known

in Judaism in that time. They did not invite people based on receiving a favor

in return. It was based on the true charity that was and still is imbedded in

their culture. Borsch tells how Luke shows that the intended guests were

individuals of wealth. Only after this plan fails is the poor, lame, and blind

invited. It is anger rather than charity that provides the host?s motivation.

The banquet parable provides a defense by suggesting that it is the outcasts who

are to participate in the age to come. Borsch believes that Luke?s parable

seems more interested in those who are finally included than the guests who

refuse to come. Borsch?s article tells of the double summoning of guests to

fill the banquet hall. The first group that the servants were sent out to get

were the people of the streets and lanes of the city. These people represent the

Jews. The second group that the servants were sent out to get were those from

the highways and the hedges. These people represent the Gentiles. Borsch also

argues another way of interpreting these people. He says that those from the

city are primarily the outcast among the Jews who accepted Jesus rather than the

Jews generally, since the original invitees represent Jews more generally would

probably better. Luke?s primary concern is with charity towards the outcasts

and uses the parable as a warning against worldly concerns that lead one to miss

what is far more important. Borsch explains the Jesus? healing ministry and

his reaching out to and associating with the sick, maimed, and poor were ways of

making the coming of the kingdom known. The parable concludes in high and holy

humor, offering new hope to all whom might otherwise feel uninvited to the


Both Harrington and Borsch offer explanations of the different groups of

people that are called to feast. However both authors have different opinions on

how these people would be interpreted. Harrington believes that those that are

within the city are the sinners who are like the guests who received the

invitation and did not accept it. The invitation to those outside the city

refers to the Gentiles. Borsch believes that those from the city are primarily

the outcast who accepted Jesus and the original invitees represent the Jews.

Borsch?s view on the parable is based on charity and its place in Judaism at

that time. Harrington?s view on the parable is based on how God has called the

poor and outcasts and offered them the salvation that the scribes and Pharisees

had rejected. Harrington also describes the differences between Matthews?s

version of the parable and Luke?s version, while Borsch main focus is on Luke?s


Both of these authors display strong opinions to their interpretations of

this parable. While both offer different interpretations of the groups that are

invited to the feast, they still have the strong underlying theme of the feast

of salvation that everyone is called to, including the poor and lame. Harrington

uses higher-level language but does not offer as an in depth analysis as Borsch?s

analysis. Borsch offers a more in depth analysis of Luke?s gospel but he does

not offer the dual interpretation of the parable from both Matthew?s and Luke?s

gospels. In conclusion these two authors represent two different interpretations

of one parable, yet they still have the same underlying theme of the everlasting

feast of salvation that one can acquire.


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