The Great Banquet. Yep, heaven. Let’s dig.

“When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, ‘Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.’ ” It sounds to me like he’s throwing a religious platitude at Jesus, ignoring the depth and life-change of the truth. People throw stuff like this around all the time, “Well, God is in control”; “Praise be to Je-sus!”; “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” People have these religious snippets they toss around like frisbees.

Predictably, Jesus doesn’t let it lie there, and he launches into a story. ‘A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests.’ It is obviously a great and special occasion, worthy of the expenditure of time and money, and worthy to invite one’s best friends for the grand event. It is the moment of excitement where, after all the preparation, it’s time for the party. Invitations are sent out. Oh boy, oh boy, it’s gonna be big! Surprise! One after another turns down the invitation, making excuses for why they won’t be attending. But the excuses are cheap and wounding (Oh, I just bought a field and want to go look at it!), so it was a matter of priorities and a willful decision. The “certain man” is offended. This isn’t busyness, it’s rejection. Ouch.

When the servant reports, “Uh, nobody’s coming,” the owner makes a quick change of strategy. He won’t be so easily put off. He will not be alone the night of his big party. One way or another he will find someone who wants it. You see, it’s not so important that you are called; what matters most is that you come. As we’ve seen before in Luke, it’s usually the ones who know their need who respond.

The street folks respond, but there’s still more room for whoever wants to come. The master says, “Go invite everybody. Bring anyone who will come. Whoever comes is in.” This is like the Hafiz poem:

 

LET’S EAT

 

Why

Just show you God’s menu?

Hell, we are all

Starving—

Let’s Eat!

 

It turns out that all are invited. Rejection only comes for those who don’t respond. As I said a few weeks ago, God doesn’t send people to hell. They send themselves there by refusing to come. “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God,” indeed. The feast of the kingdom of God is open to all. It’s up to each one to respond to the invitation.

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