I have often found this a difficult parable because it seems so negative. Jesus seems to be saying that although lots of people will try to be saved, and some will think that they are saved, many will still fail to enter the narrow door of God’s Kingdom. Why would that be? Jesus answers with an analogy of a master of a banquet who, once he has closed the doors behind all the invited guests, will not open them again to just anyone who begs and wails to be let in.
The point seems to be simply this: we have all been given an invitation to repent and come home to the Lord. If we take up the invitation and work hard in the service of God (rather than for ourselves) then we will receive all the wonderful food and drink laid out for us in the heavenly banquet. If we choose not to come and serve the Lord at his invitation then we can not longer claim entitlement to sit and eat at the banquet.
Luke 13:22-30 NLT
Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’ “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God. And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then. ”
The Good News has been spread throughout the whole world, millions have the chance to hear it. All who hear it are invited to take their place in the Kingdom of heaven. But it is up to each individual to accept the invitation and act accordingly, or not. The heavenly banquet is not free as such though. We are expected to give up our selfish view of work and begin a life of service to others. But the pay off is wonderful – the heavenly banquet is beyond anything we could ever provide for ourselves. My goal is to work hard to enter the narrow gate so that I might take my seat at God’s banquet.
Deuteronomy 34:1-12, Joshua 1:1-2:24, Luke 13:22-14:6
Psalms 79:1-13, Proverbs 12:26