After we moved into our new home last March, some friends at the church Mary and I served for forty years wanted to have a house warming. Mary and I worked hard to prepare. Our friends sent out some personal invites and had it announced in the Sunday morning gathering, but it’d been over three years since we stepped down from pastoring and we wondered whether anyone would come. And then on the afternoon of the event, the Texas weather “monsooned.”
The threat of rejected invitations—it can throw a damper over any home party. What’s amazing is that when it comes to the ultimate dinner party, God knows what it means to be rejected.
“Now when one of those reclining with Jesus heard these things (the mention of the resurrection of the righteous Lk. 14:14), he said to Him, ‘Blessed is the one who eats bread in the Kingdom of God.’
Jesus said to him, ‘There was a man who made a great banquet and he invited many. He sent out his servants at the dinner hour and said to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for right now everything is ready!’ And one by one, all who had been called began to beg off. The first one said to him, ‘I have purchased a field and I must go and see it. I ask you to please excuse me.’ And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen and I must go and test them. I ask you to please excuse me.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife and because of this, I am not able to come.” Now the servant arrived and reported to his master these things.
Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go quickly into the streets and busy thoroughfares of the city. Bring here the poor, the disabled, the blind, and the lame.‘ And the servant said, ‘Lord, what you have commanded has been done, and there are still places.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go to the highways and the fenced in areas and compel them to come so that my house may be full. For I tell you, none of those men that were originally invited will taste my meal.’”
Jesus told us about how His Father set up the seating chart at His table, (Lk. 14:7-11), then He told how all the invitations were sent out based on grace, not merit (Lk. 14:12-14). Now He warns that those who excuse themselves using lame duck reasons indicating that they are too busy with other things will miss the heavenly dinner all together. Their place will be taken by the humble and the needy that come.
The Jewish Scriptures promised a future banquet for the resurrection of the righteous. Check it out in Isaiah 25:6, Psalm 22:26, and you all remember Psalm 23:5. God will close His New Testament Story with an invitation to come and join the marriage supper of Messiah Jesus (Rev. 19;9).
In the first century most of the Pharisees, the experts in the Law, and the religious leadership all made excuses for why they would not accept Jesus as their Messiah. God said they forfeited their seat in the final resurrection.
The decision still remains for us today. Will we pridefully remain covered over with all our own activities or will we reserve our place at Jesus’ table, admitting that we don’t deserve it, and take our place alongside the poor and needy? Grace only excludes those who claim they don’t need it.
LORD, use me today to be like the servant in this story who obeyed his Master and got out and urged people everywhere to come to Your table. What an awesome responsibility to deliver Your invitations and to realize that the invitation is to those we would least expect.
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