Summary: In times of "doom and gloom", how wonderful it is to be a part of the Family of God as we look forward to the great "Messianic Feast" prepared for all we who love the Lord and serve as He served. Indeed it will be worth it all!
IT WILL BE WORTH IT ALL
If Jesus ever turned down an invitation to dinner, there is no record of it. He welcomed the chance to attend get-togethers where people enjoyed a meal together. Invitations to dinner conveyed a one-word message - acceptance.
There was, however, a double standard applied to Jesus. He could dine with the upper crust of society without reprisal, but anytime he dined in the home of a commoner, he was criticized - even reprimanded because he ate with “publicans and sinners” as if he had committed a criminal offense.
Jesus refused to let slander or false accusation deter him from befriending all types of people, be they “sinners” or “righteous”. Why did Jesus accept dinner invitations? Certainly not to become popular . . . well-liked . . . one of the “elite”. He went because he saw hospitality as opportunity!
Food and wine, eating and drinking, accepting and rejecting invitations were metaphors used by Jesus to present himself as the One sent from God to offer to all people “food that endures to eternal life” . . . to provide for all people God’s “true bread from heaven” . . . identify himself as “the bread of life”.
To everyone who would listen, Jesus said: “He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Just as food and drink are essential to physical life, Jesus is - for believers - “the Bread of Life” and “the fount of every blessing” – both elements (the body and the blood) absolutely essential for enjoying the ultimate spiritual blessing of all: to “dwell in the House of the Lord forever!”
With heaven in mind as the believer’s reward for his or her acceptance of God’s saving grace, Jesus, on one occasion when dining at the home of a prominent Pharisee and being carefully watched . . . healing a man who suffered from heart failure . . . noticing how dinner guests sought to be seated at “places of honor” . . . Jesus addressed the host with a startling, silencing bit of advice that would open the door for Jesus to tell one of his greatest parables ever - - - Luke 14:12-14 . . .
Jesus, as usual, struck a sensitive nerve with regard to motive – this time having to do with hospitality, yes, but also with charity and generosity. To invite only the folks Jesus mentioned would have eliminated from the guest invitation list almost everyone in attendance. How quiet this crowd must have become when they heard Jesus say what he said! What it tells me:
Jesus no doubt discerns motives – particularly motives of the self-righteous - whose hospitality . . . charity . . . generosity are practiced selectively for reasons of self-interest - to boost one’s ego . . . exert influence . . . incur favorability . . . feign superiority.
On the other hand, Jesus immediately turned away from the negative aspect of exclusivity to the positive result of becoming inclusively hospitable, charitable, and generous. A loving Christian practices these virtues because he or she cannot help it.
For the mature Christian, real giving of oneself and of one’s resources, like that cup of cold water given in the name of Jesus, is no longer seen as a selective act of hospitality, charity or generosity. Real giving has now become the natural outflow of one’s love with no thought of reward. God gave because God so loved – and so must we.
Out of the goodness of one’s heart we are to give of ourselves and of our resources.
Yet, real giving - whether it takes the form of hospitality, charity, generosity or whatever, has its reward! And Jesus did not miss the chance to drive home the most pertinent point to be made with regard to serving Jesus – Luke 14:15-24 . . .
Pertinent Point: God is preparing a great “messianic feast” for all people who accept God’s invitation to salvation that is offered through His Son Jesus Christ.
No excuse is acceptable, and God will not allow anyone who has rejected his invitation to come in, not even for a taste. Of those who do accept, no selfless act of service will go unnoticed, for “God will reward the righteous”.
Because of God’s acceptance of whosoever may come to Him in repentance and faith, His invitation unto eternal life is open to one and all --- until the door to the banquet hall is shut. There is still room. There is still time. But remember: “Behold, now is the accepted time. Today is the day of salvation.”
Be glad that Jesus thought of His Kingdom as a feast! That is the way I want to think of my Christian life – as if I am now, and forever will be, at a wedding feast!