The Lord’s banquet room will not be empty. The wine will flow. The food will be served. Music will play. Conversations will be had. The Lord’s table will be crowded. He will make sure of that.
Jesus once spoke a parable about a great man who prepared an extravagant feast and invited many guests. All was prepared. No expense was spared. Everything was going to be perfect. There was to be a party, and a party needs guests. But those invited shrugged their shoulders. “I have things to do and places to be.”
I get it. You get it. There are plenty of places we need to be, and plenty we need to do. How sad it is that I do not want to go to the banquet, the wedding, or the gathering anymore. I’m tired. I have things to do. I have other places to be. So I skip. I make excuses. I pretend that I am so overwhelmed with matters because I am, after all, really important.
One of the invited excused himself, “I just got married. I have my own life to live.” Another said, “I just bought oxen. I have a job.” Still another, “I just bought a field, I have responsibilities.” We say the same things, don’t we? Don’t you understand that I have my own life? Don’t you understand how busy I am?? I get it. You understand too, don’t you? Life is full enough as it is. And there is nothing wrong with saying “No” to these kinds of events.
But the great man in the parable was throwing a party. And his table would not be empty. So he moved on from his initial list of invites. In a bit of anger, he said to his servant, “Fine. Go to the streets. Go to the allies. Go to the places where you will not find people who have in their closets fine banquet clothes worn many times, but to those who have never been to such a banquet. Invite them. My table will not be empty.”
Stop and be enveloped by the unending grace of Christ and his beautiful teachings that touch every corner of life.
Those of you reading this who are of a certain age or older will wisely tell the rest of us how quickly time slips away. There is no such thing as time to kill. And you will tell us of the regrets of not doing this or that, turning down this invite and that request. You will remind us that the work will get done. The field will get plowed. The oxen will get fed. There’s time, so stop and enjoy this place. Stop and be with each other. Stop and be enveloped by the unending grace of Christ and his beautiful teachings that touch every corner of life. In fact, I can almost guarantee that the more peace you have in Christ and the more freedom you allow yourself, the more productive you will be.
But this parable is about more than balancing your time (as if that was possible or even that important in the end). There is so much more when it comes to the invitation to the Lamb’s High Feast, isn’t there? And not just because this is a picture of rejecting forgiveness, salvation, and ultimately heaven, but also the full life God has laid out before us.
Christ, the host of this meal, the Lamb’s High Feast in heaven, will make sure the table is full. But, as we sadly know, many saw but rejected, heard but denied, knew but did not believe. They turned down the invite. The excuses are still the same. Don’t need it. Don’t believe it. Don’t want it. I have a full enough life as it is.
This is about God’s grace offered to all. To the ones you would expect to be granted a prestigious invitation to the great man’s banquet and the ones you would least expect to be invited to the high-class party, the ones in the streets and the allies. The ones with no fancy clothes, the ones with no status, the ones no paparazzi would care to photograph. The great man does not care about the status of his company as if his party was for his own reputation. No, his reputation is already secure. He’s not so insecure to desire such pettiness. His table will be full because he is that gracious.
In Christ’s parable, the ones who rejected the invitation are those who have ultimately said, “No thank you to grace. No thank you, we’re good with what we have.” How sad it is that we settle for something unworthy of the grace God has given us.
But by God’s action, we are reminded that we are also the slum in the streets and in the alleyways. He reminds us of this through his law, sometimes very painfully. I am glad he does. Because then he says, “Now come, you have been invited. Now come. On this mountain, I will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine, the best meats and the finest wines. On this mountain I will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; I will swallow up death forever” (Is 25:6-8a). You are invited.
In Christ’s parable, the ones who rejected the invitation are those who have ultimately said, “No thank you to grace. No thank you, we’re good with what we have.”
Oh, and I know that you don’t have clothes for a party like this. None of us do. There are no manmade threads good enough for this banquet. So he provides that as well through your baptismal clothes, the righteousness of Christ. You don’t deserve the invitation. You don’t even have clothes for a banquet like this. But he makes you worthy. He makes you righteous in Christ. He dresses you for the occasion.
So you who are very busy: I get it, I know. You who are very important: I get it, you are. You who have great responsibility: I get it, you do. And it’s okay to say “No” to a lot in this life. Just remember the work will get done. But this banquet’s invitation? It’s a bit different. It’s heavenly. And God who has dressed you for the occasion already, we will get you to the table. By law and by gospel. The Lord’s banquet room will not be empty. The wine will flow. The food will be served. Music will play. Conversations will be had. The Lord’s table will be crowded. He will make sure of that. And he will make sure that you will be there too.
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