After Jesus had finished speaking, one of the guests said, “The greatest blessing of all is to be at the banquet in God’s kingdom!”
Jesus replied to the man by telling a story: “A man once gave a great banquet and invited a lot of guests. When the banquet was ready, he sent a servant to tell the guests, “Everything is ready! Please come.” One guest after another started making excuses. The first one said, “I bought some land, and I’ve got to look it over. Please excuse me.”
Another guest said, “I bought five teams of oxen, and I need to try them out. Please excuse me.” Still another guest said, “I have recently gotten married, and I can’t be there.”
The servant told his master what happened, and the master became so angry that he said, “Go as fast as you can to every street and alley in town! Bring in everyone who is poor or crippled or blind or lame.”
When the servant returned, he said, “Master, I’ve done what you told me, and there is still plenty of room for more people.” His master then told him, “Go out along the back roads and fence rows and make people come in, so that my house will be full. For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.”
Large crowds began following Jesus. He turned to them and said, “You cannot be my disciple unless you hate father and mother, wife and children, your brothers and sisters—yes, even your very own life.