The Best Guest List

Think of the last party you threw. It might be a while ago since the country has been social distancing for months, but I am sure you can recall the preparation of carefully choosing the menu – avoiding allergies and dislikes. Possibly rearranging furniture to open up space, or entertaining alfresco with easy clean up from plastic plates. You might have created a musical playlist to set the tone and placed small groupings of candles, flowers, and coasters on tables. And I bet you gave special thought to the invitation list – carefully selecting those with common interests or pursuits to create genuine conversations and lasting friendships.

You smiled as you slipped off your apron and into a fresh top, anticipating a fun-filled evening ahead. But the doorbell didn’t ring. Instead, it was your phone that rang – with reasons why guests couldn’t attend. Excuses about a new house and yard, a new car needing to be taken for a spin, or a newlywed spouse wanting to stay home. This is how Jesus explains the story of the Great Feast (Luke 14:15-24).

How heart breaking. How disappointing.

Yet the host in this story decided the party must go on. Jesus explains how the host quickly assessed the situation and rethought his guest list. He sent his servant into the streets and alleys of the town to bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame (vs. 21). The host had a generous heart and wanted to share. He desired every room of his home to be full!

This same guest list appears in the Parable of the Guest (Luke 14:7-14) and reminds me of a meal when my Dad took a lesser seat and turned over the head of the table to my husband. My dining room set was given to me when my parents sold their suburban home for retirement. Almost 20 years ago, my Dad walked past the armchair at the head of the table, even though for many years and celebrations prior, it was his seat, and his father’s before him and his grandfather’s before that. Even though he could say he deserved this seat, that he had already earned his turn, he graciously kept walking, passing the seat of honor to the man of the house. As I watched, I understood the respect he was passing along to his son-in-law, as well as the humility it took to keep walking. I quickly offered him the other end of the table, where he has comfortably chosen to sit for every celebration since. This is the attitude of a guest who will always be welcome in my home and gladly invited back. In these parables, Jesus teaches humility and serving others (Matthew 23:12). He also offers a reminder (to the Pharisees and us) that hosting is a form of generosity. And a declaration of the people you desire to be with.

By using the same guest list, Jesus is saying we are the needy people, we are the broken people. Re-read these parables and consider yourself as the guest. We are the current-day poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. We are the sinners (Matthew 9:12). Our hardships have different titles in 2020, but we all are broken and in need of a Savior.

If we lace on the sandals of the guests who turned down the host’s invitation in the first parable, would we also have been the Jewish people who rejected Jesus as the Messiah?  Are we still avoiding His invitation today? Are we hesitant to get to know Him? Are we making excuses to avoid God’s nudges and blessings? How often do we allow prior obligations to get in the way of attending church, reading the Bible, and having real conversations with Believers?

Are we turning down Jesus’ invitation to the Kingdom?

*God pursues us time and time again – the lost sheep and lost coin parables (Luke 15:4-10, John 6:44)

*He created us and loves us unconditionally (Ephesians 1:4-8)

*He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

*He desires a relationship with us (John 17:3)

 

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Matthew 4:19

 

This Kingdom invitation is one to consider seriously, not to turn down and regret for eternity (Luke 14:24). If you aren’t sure of your salvation, Apostle Paul summarizes it in a few short words Romans 10:9 and shares the confidence it provides in Romans 10:13. If you are a Believer, are you leaning into the Lord and engaging in Kingdom work? Are you prompting conversations that bring others closer to Him? I recently heard faith summed up: “Faith is the root, works are the fruit”. I pray you have a bountiful garden growing!

Jesus invites us to a feast and gives us a prime seat. I hope you will consider accepting His invitation.

 

Please pray with me:

Heavenly Father – thank you for pursuing me and forgiving my sins time and time again. You are a merciful God, the only one who can rescue and deliver me. Please continue to lead me towards your great works so I can assist in bringing more Kingdom to earth, Amen.

(adapted from Psalm 69:13-18)

 

 

 

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