Meals play a central role in Scripture. The crucial holiday in Israel’s calendar was a meal that commemorated their deliverance from captivity, and the central commemoration of Christians is a weekly meal that reflects on God’s ultimate deliverance from bondage.
Our presence in the new heavens and earth is sometimes described as a huge feast where we take our places at a banquet table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the central part of our favorite Psalm is about God’s preparing a table in the presence of our enemies.
It’s no wonder, then, that Jesus made meals an important part of his ministry, and of all the gospel writers Luke emphasizes them the most. Some of Jesus’ most important work and teachings happen around the dinner table, and tomorrow we’ll focus on a meal where Jesus tells a story about another meal . . . he compares the kingdom to a great banquet.
You read above that a man planned a great banquet and sent out invitations, but those he invited made excuses about why they couldn’t come. He then invited the unwanted to attend and rejected the ones he initially invited.
It’s important first to know the original implications. Jesus almost certainly had in mind the Jewish people as the ones initially invited by the gospel. After they rejected it, though, the gospel would be sent to the Gentiles (“the poor and crippled and blind and lame”).
But it also continues the Lukan theme of attention to the marginalized, those who were rejected by the establishment but welcomed by Jesus. Perhaps one way of applying it today is that so often society’s “somebodies” turn away from the gospel invitation . . . they’re satisfied with the quality of their lives. The “nobodies,” on the other hand–maybe because they’re living less than idyllic lives–accept Jesus warmly.
Paul acknowledges this distinction in Corinth by his reference to those who were not “wise according to worldly standards,” “not powerful,” and “not of noble birth” (1 Cor 1:26). God chose the foolish, the weak, the low, and despised “to bring to nothing things that are.” In other words, the attendees at the great banquet are often those who are not highly regarded by the world.
Our focus tomorrow will be on God’s intent of inviting everyone to the banquet without any concern whatsoever with the way the world regards status. We’ll also reflect a little on how we in the church can carry on the mission of going to the “streets and lanes of the city” to bring in those whom society has abandoned.