Luke 14:15-24 (CEV)
15 After Jesus had finished speaking, one of the guests said, “The greatest blessing of all is to be at the banquet in God’s kingdom!”
16 Jesus told him:
A man once gave a great banquet and invited a lot of guests. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent a servant to tell the guests, “Everything is ready! Please come.”
18 One guest after another started making excuses. The first one said, “I bought some land, and I’ve got to look it over. Please excuse me.”
19 Another guest said, “I bought five teams of oxen, and I need to try them out. Please excuse me.”
20 Still another guest said, “I have just gotten married, and I can’t be there.”
21 The servant told his master what happened, and the master became so angry that he said, “Go as fast as you can to every street and alley in town! Bring in everyone who is poor or crippled or blind or lame.”
22 When the servant returned, he said, “Master, I’ve done what you told me, and there is still plenty of room for more people.”
23 His master then told him, “Go out along the back roads and fence rows and make people come in, so that my house will be full. 24 Not one of the guests I first invited will get even a bite of my food!”
For reasons involving disability and accessibility and exhaustion, I was not at Boots and Hearts last weekend. But as far as I could make out from Facebook, a backstage pass for the Dani Strong concert at Boots and Hearts was a pretty high honour.
If you had one, you cleared your schedule, rearranged your life, found babysitters for your kids and dogsitters for your dogs, and you found a way to be there.
In fact, I’m pretty sure that just regular passes to Boots and Hearts got that kind of response from anyone capable of traversing large grassy fields or standing up for more than a few minutes at a time!
But what if Shannon had come up with some excuse about needing to drive her kids around to get school supplies and hadn’t shown?
What if Greg had decided this was the one weekend he had available all summer to build himself a sauna, so he hadn’t turned up?
What if Kent and the Kent’s had decided there was too much going on – what with a Dragon boat practice and some calls from friends – and had just decided to stay home.
What if Thea and Ashley and Zach and all of the other Boots and Hearts fans had just had something else “come up” and so hadn’t descended on mass to that field in Oro?
All of the country fans would have been appalled! Everyone would be gobsmacked! You had an invitation and you didn’t go???? You won tickets for free, or a friend sent them to you, or you got a personal pass from a star and didn’t show up? Are you insane?
(If you’re not a country fan, feel free to insert your personal fan-dom in to this story – Leaf’s in the Stanley cup playoffs; Comicon with a seat next to your favourite Star Wars actor; a quilting festival where all of the fabric is on sale for 90% off; an all-expenses paid eight-night canoe trip somewhere completely off the grid … you get the idea!)
That’s the feeling in this story Jesus is telling us today.
A story about an incredibly lavish, incredibly fantastic banquet, where all of the people who are supposed to be ecstatic about attending come up with stupid, inane excuses that don’t make any sense in the context of the situation at hand.
And so the tickets go to people who never thought they would get a chance.
People who never thought they could rustle up the money or the connections or the influence or the cleanliness to even get a second glance, much less an invite.
This is the gospel. It’s not an elite country club. It’s not just for the wealthy or the powerful or the white or the straight or the voices you hear railing on Twitter or in the news. The Good News is about looking after the poor and the widow, the crippled, lame and blind. If we miss out on that, the invitation to the Kingdom will simply pass over us and on to someone else – and we shouldn’t be surprised when it does.Journal Questions:
- What things will you have to say ‘no’ to in order to be able to say ‘yes’ to the banquet?
- What things will you have to reprioritize or rearrange to be able to keep on saying yes?
- What voices are leading you towards this invitation?
- What voices are leading you away?
- Do you need to change who you are listening to?