Deputy Principal - Mission and Faith

2016 – The Year of the Gospel of Luke Part 3

Following on from my two previous articles on Luke’s Gospel, The Banquet Motif, is a key recurring theme or feature of Luke’s Gospel – it is a dominant idea throughout the Gospel.  In essence it is the literary feature of a meal.  That is, Luke has Jesus at table eating and drinking or there is a story or parable which features a meal.  In Luke 5, Levi prepares a great banquet for Jesus and in Luke 7 the sinful woman washes Jesus’ feet while he is at table. In Luke 14, Jesus is eating a meal with the Pharisees on the Sabbath and tells them when they give a banquet to invite the poor, crippled, the lame and the blind.  Chapter 14 then continues with the parable of the Great Banquet (Lk 14: 15-24).  In this parable a great dinner is prepare and the servants of the household are sent out to invite various guest to the dinner but they all make excuses as to why they could not attend.  The master of the house then become angry and sends the servants out to bring in the cripple, the blind and the lame and then says, “…none of those who were invited will taste my dinner”.

What Luke is doing here with this Banquet motif is alluding to the eschatological banquet at the end of time.  Luke is indicating that the end of time, when we are all with God, is like a party, a great Banquet, it is full of good food and wine.  A very earthy understanding of the end of time!  Luke is saying everyone is invited, no one is excluded.  This is a very important point as the Jewish people understood that this Banquet at the end of time excluded those outside of Israel and those within Israel such as sinners and the disabled.  The Jewish people were scandalised by Jesus eating with sinners and healing the disabled.  This banquet motif then continues in Luke’s Gospel with the story of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15) where the Father rejoices on the return of the sinful and wasteful son and holds a great Banquet to which the elder son refuses to attend.  The Banquet motif continues in the Last Supper (Lk 22: 14-30) and is the occasion for Jesus to teach about who is the greatest, the one who sits at table or the one who serves?  Finally, in Luke’s Gospel the Banquet Motif culminates on the road to Emmaus when the risen Jesus travels with the two disciples and opens their mind to the scriptures, he then sits with them, breaks bread with them blessing it and with this their eyes are open.

Luke’s message through the Banquet Motif is everyone is invited, no one is excluded.  The Jewish people knew this motif well and understood exactly what Luke is saying.  In fact, they were so sandalised by it that they killed Jesus for it!

So, as we listen to Luke’s Gospel throughout 2016 we are listening to an ancient document recounting the story of Jesus of Nazareth that requires a response from us.  Are we like “Theophilus” a lover of God who excludes no one?  Are we able to sharing this faith with each other and our Children? Are we able to challenge our children to include all, to exclude no one for Jesus came for us all?  Enjoy the year of Luke!