This passage brings Kingdom living into light. Vision that is shaped by the world teaches us to look for those who will add value to our lives. It comes “naturally” to us to try and spend time around people who will better your status in the social world. Money, looks, influence, power, are all things that attract us to people. What does Jesus say about how we should view people?
He then goes on to tell a parable, which he intends for everyone to take literally. When I’ve read this passage in the past, I’ve focused on those in the street who get invited and how they are the ones who get to taste the good dinner. This time in reading this passage, I was drawn to those who snub the invitation. Their excuses are typical, but the host has gone to great trouble to prepare a great banquet and he is determined to share it. He therefore goes and finds people in the least conventional places. The first message should be clear. Jesus is going around the countryside to gather the people for the great feast that Israel has been waiting for. The problem is that when he bids them come, they have excuses for why they won’t be able to make it. Others, the poor, marginalized, oppressed, and disabled, are delighted to come celebrate with Jesus.
The feast to which the people were invited is the celebration of God’s kingdom. The “kingdom-movement” that Jesus is bringing is calling all people to gather around the table to celebrate redemption and reconciliation, where God will bring all things back to fullness. I’m excited to be part of this great feast and I hope you are too. I heard it said well that, “it isn’t enough to say that we ourselves are the people dragged in from the country lanes, to our surprise, to enjoy God’s party. That may be true; but party guests are then expected to become party hosts in their turn.”
As we look to a new year, how will you celebrate God’s Kingdom this next year? How do you find yourself being “too busy to come celebrate”? In what ways can we as a church become party hosts in the way described by Jesus?