As Jesus continues his story in Luke 14, we learn that the master of the banquet is furious. His anger rumbles out. Coercion replaces invitation. Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet” (Luke 14:23). With these words, Jesus’ parable draws to a close. 

Luke does not tell us how these Jewish teachers responded to Jesus’ story. We are left hanging. I suspect that some of these men became followers of Jesus. Through the power of the Spirit Christ’s words pricked their hearts; what had initially sounded nonsensical, impossible, biblically jumbled, and theologically incoherent, eventually clicked into place in their minds and hearts. How could we have been so blind?” they may have asked themselves. How could we have misread the Scriptures so badly for so long? He has finally come. He is in our midst. We must heed his invitation to follow. Our lives, our salvation, depend on him.”

Jesus’ words – and invitation – bounced off other hearts. Some of these teachers remained as convinced as ever that Jesus was a deceiver, a lunatic, a devil; he spoke demonic, devilish words, words that would kill people, destroy souls, devour the nation. This Jesus was no Joshua. Left to himself, he would destroy the nation. He spoke the words of the evil one. He was purposely leading Israel astray. He had to be dealt with and dealt with quickly. Had they not heard the blasphemy?

Who would have imagined that invitations could be so hard to accept, so unwelcome, so disturbing? As Jesus continues to issue his call to follow – I see Bonhoeffer’s face pondering the same call – division often results. Will you follow me? Are you listening? Will you give me your life? Will you allow me to work my way with you? In you? Will you apprentice your mind, your heart, your body to me? Will you allow me to teach you the meaning of God’s kingdom? Will you let me teach you how to live?”

In Jesus’ day, some said yes.” Many others said no.” In Bonhoeffer’s day, some said yes.” Others said no.” In our day, some say yes.” Others say no.”