Bible Reading: Luke 14:12-24
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Imagine being invited to a great banquet. It’s that kind of extravagant dinner reception you get invited to for people’s weddings at the most expensive hotels. It’s always good fun, and exquisite foods keep being served by suited butlers keeping both your tongue and stomach entertained.
The kingdom of God can be likened to a great banquet. Jesus came in preparation for this banquet so that eternally satisfying food and drink can be given to hungry and thirsty souls. Jesus, Himself said He was the living water and bread of life. Those who eat and drink of Him would never be thirsty or hungry again. After all the Father’s eternal love and election, Christ’s incarnation and death on the cross, and the Spirit’s sending into the world, Jesus finally invites many to His table, to repentance into His kingdom, that humans could be reconciled with God and enter an all-satisfying relationship with Himself — God’s original intent for mankind. Jesus called people and continues to call to us, “Come, for everything is now ready”.
But what are the responses of the invited guests? The first excused himself because he had just bought a field and went out to inspect it. The second had just bought oxen and similarly felt the urgent need to inspect them. The third had just gotten married and made the excuse that he could not come. Delaying the inspection of land and oxen would not have caused harm, and marriage does not forbid attending the banquet according to Jewish law. These excuses showed something deeper in the hearts of those invited.
Many of us hear Jesus’ call into His kingdom. Yet, worldly affairs win our hearts. We care more about our material purchases than all-satisfying food and drink for our soul. To us, the joys of marriage and relationship are far superior to the eternal joys of feasting with our Creator. How foolish! Yet, this is our hearts. We do not want to be satisfied with God. We do not wish to enter a relationship with Him. We love the world, and therefore we have no love of God.
God is angry towards us who respond this way, and rightly so. Because of the guests that made excuses, the master of the house quickly hastened his servants to invite all the poor, crippled, blind and lame. When there was still room, the master sent for people from the highways and hedges, gentiles from foreign lands. And the master made one terrifying comment, “for I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet”.
God’s kingdom is open to all those who are poor in heart and needy in spirit. God’s kingdom is open to those who are far, who know they need forgiveness. Yet, to the proud who hear God’s Word every day, who seem close to Jesus’ feet yet never repent and continue lusting after worldly affairs, the kingdom of God is veiled. This is the wisdom of God. May each person respond in fear of the Lord.
Lord, Your gospel is veiled to those who are perishing. Yet, it works salvation to those whom You have chosen. Who can understand Your ways and the inscrutable paths of Your wisdom? Please humble us and make us know that You are the LORD. Give us poor hearts to come to You in repentance. Let us come to Your table and be eternally satisfied with Christ, the bread of life and living water. Have mercy on us. In Jesus’ name, amen.