Luke 14

Matt Summerfield looks at God's heart for the banquet He's preparing in the Kingdom of God.

Matt Summerfield
Matt Summerfield

In Luke 14, we're told that Jesus was at a dinner party, invited by a group of Jewish religious leaders. It's not a comfortable evening! He gives them a tough time about their attitudes and behaviour, challenging them about how they're more committed to rules than relationships, and to status rather than serving others.

He tells them that when they host parties, they should invite people who they never normally would invite. People who couldn't ever have them back for dinner in return, like the poor and the outcasts.

Jesus is trying to help them understand that with God everyone is loved, invited, and welcomed. Whoever you are, whatever you've done, wherever you've been, there's a place at the table with God for you.

But one of the religious leaders completely misses the point. He ignores all that stuff about God inviting everybody and simply replies, "What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!" It's as if he's saying "I'm so glad I'm at the table."

In one of Jesus' calmer moments, Jesus resists the urge to call him a fool, but instead tells a story about invitations to a great feast.

Of course, there was no such thing as email and mobile phones, and the postal service wasn't particularly timely or reliable, so organising a party was a big challenge.

What you would do is send out an initial invite to say to people, please put this date in your diary because I'm planning to hold a great party; please let me know that you can make it. I'll get back to you nearer the time with the exact details when we're ready to go!

Once you knew the list of people who promised to come, then you'd prepare a huge feast, sparing no expense and then you'd contact them saying party is on, food is ready, come now!

And so that's what happened in the story. All these people have agreed to come, and when it comes to the final reminder invitation, they start making lame excuses about why they suddenly can't come!

And so the host of the party is mad. He's prepared a feast and there's not going to be anything better than what he has to offer. Yet they've foolishly decided to miss out.

The desire of the host's heart is that his house is FULL and that there are no empty seats. He wants everyone to come to the feast and enjoy his extravagant love and generosity.

And so he tells his servants to get out there, to get out into the community and go into the towns and rural areas, and streets and alleys; to go into the lanes and gardens; to the uninvited, broken, and outcasts. He wants them to go to those who feel they've got their life together and those whose lives are falling apart. He wants them to go and tell them there is room and a seat for you at the feast of God.

Jesus wants His house to be full. He wants everybody to have a place at the table with His family. Empty seats are agonising for God, because an empty seat represents someone who is missing from the blessing that He wants them to experience.

And so Jesus' whole message to the religious community in Luke 14 is this: Stop being so focused on your own seat and start getting passionate about filling the empty seats. Stop saving a seat for yourself, and start saving a seat for someone else. Stop just being grateful that you're on the 'inside' and start getting out to those on the 'outside'.

Jesus wants His family, His Church, to be full of all people.

Jesus has prepared a feast. Everyone is welcome. Nobody is perfect. Anything can happen.

Who will you invite today to God's amazing table? CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.