You Are Invited!

Have you ever planned an elaborate dinner or a special party – just to be stood up by those you invited? Maybe the person didn’t even bother to show up, or called shortly before the event with some lame excuse. Either way, it probably became obvious to you that perhaps your relationship was not as important to them as it was to you.banquet-tables-by-unc-greensboro-special-collections

Our scripture this week, Luke 14:15-20, features Jesus telling one of his parables – the Parable of the Great Banquet. In the story, we see the man giving the great banquet being stood up. After planning a great feast and inviting many guests, everyone is busy when the party is set to begin. Their excuses are numerous, and sometimes even laughable. Why would anyone – just at the moment the party is scheduled to start – suddenly need to examine their fields and oxen? Couldn’t they have done it earlier in the day? Or surely it could have waited until tomorrow, couldn’t it?

But with a great party planned, the man finds no one to enjoy the feast. What to do? Cancel the party? Reschedule it for a better day? Call everyone up and apologize for his poor planning? Unfriend them on Facebook?

The latter is the closest to reality. Just as you might rethink your friendship with friends who stand you up, the master did the same. The invited guests’ ill-timed excuses clearly spoke of their priorities – priorities which did not include the great banquet. By now though, listeners to Jesus’ story knew this wasn’t just any dinner party. This wasn’t just a random get-together that would happen again next month. This was an invitation to feast with the Lord at the great Messianic Banquet. This was the feast that signaled the arrival of the Kingdom of God. There were no repeat invitations. The party would not be held again. It was a single

So too is our invitation from God. We need to decide whether we’ll RSVP or make excuses. God is inviting you to dine with him at the great banquet. He wants you to be included among the guests. He wants us to identify with him – and not the world. But the timing and details aren’t up to us. We can’t reschedule for another month. We can’t fit it in when we might have time, after all our world priorities have been addressed. God’s invitation challenges us to declare boldly our priorities – the world, or Him? His ways and timing – or our own?

The second portion of the passage, Luke 14:21-24, serves as a beautiful reminder to those of us who don’t feel worthy of being invited to the great banquet. Surely, we might think, those invitations are reserved for the powerful and mighty, the great leaders, the wealthy, the successful and those who have never messed up like we have.

And yet, we see quite the opposite. To this great banquet – the greatest banquet ever thrown – the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame are invited. The country-dwellers are included. The have-nots and nobodies are welcomed. The powerless and forgotten are summoned. The very people least-likely to be asked are the honored guests.

And that’s us. That’s you. That’s me. And that’s good news!