When one of those who reclined at table with him (Jesus) heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But he (Jesus) said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’” Luke 14:15-24 (ESV)
Some of us find great enjoyment in large gatherings and in ceremony and in wearing fine clothing. Others of us are uncomfortable with and avoid large gatherings and formality. Some of us have a hard time slowing down long enough to enjoy the feast that is spread in front of us, because we are too busy tending to all the peripheral and not-so-important things.
Jesus’ invitation to His banquet is a great honor. It is one that requires us not necessarily to abandon the necessities of this life, but to prioritize them. Tending to one’s business and property is something we all need to do. At one time or another in our lives most people do get married, and it is important to spend time with and to cherish one’s spouse. Those are good things and parts of our vocations, but they become idolatry when we put them in a higher priority than Jesus.
The Ten Commandments show us where we fail to obey God’s Law. We are always putting material things and activities before the things of God. Jesus reminds us of this tendency of ours to put off the invitation to His banquet because we are so distracted by the things of this world.
The other point that Jesus brings to light is that those who are poor in material things are free to be far more attentive to the things of God. When we are in places where we are alone, hurting, or struggling, we are drawn to Jesus’ banquet. In our loneliness and poverty and grief, God in His mercy puts us in the place where we can slow down and taste and savor the rich sweetness of His provision. In our times of crisis and wondering, we are reminded that all provision comes from Him, and the illusion that our gifts are given apart from the grace of the Giver falls away.
In these times where our priorities have changed overnight, we can hear the call of Jesus much more clearly. Come to the banquet! All is ready! This is a meal none of us want to miss.
Lord, we thank you for the banquet that You graciously provide for us. Let us come to Your banquet with joy, and create in us clean hearts that long for You. Forgive us for those many times when we forget You or put other things in the place where only You should be. Thank You, Jesus, for giving Your life to save us, and thank You for the faith to trust that You will never leave or forsake us.