“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”
This parable seems to ring two bells at the same time. One sounds like a warning siren, cautioning those who haven’t joined the Kingdom. The other is the joyful ring of a dinner bell, inviting all who hear to the banquet of life. Jesus wants everyone to hear both bells, to take the warning to heart and to know beyond doubt that we have been invited to the Kingdom feast. Bells get our attention by breaking through the ordinary noise around us, calling us to stop, look and consider the meaning of the alarm. What is Jesus saying to us? Is He talking to me? Do I need to give heed to his warning or make sure I have accepted his gracious invitation?
The master in Jesus’ parable, representing God, wants his house to be full of those eager to receive his hospitality and joyful to celebrate at his feast. That is God’s heart, isn’t it? He loves to love us. He longs to welcome us. He wants his house to be full. God created this enormous, amazingly intricate world to give us a place where we can know and love him. In that sense, God is our host in this life, having designed this world just for us, and if that weren’t enough, He also longs to host us at his grand banquet in eternity. In fact, God wants us at that heavenly celebration so much that He sent Jesus to die and rise again so we could be declared worthy to enter his holy presence. God really, really loves you and really, really wants you to be with him forever.
But He won’t force anyone to accept his invitation. God also created this world, in a metaphysical sense, to give us a choice, free will to love him or to reject him. Some people hear the good news of Jesus, understand that He offers them everlasting life, even taste the graciousness of God’s provision, and then still turn away to pursue the fleeting, failing things of this world. They make excuses or raise objections or simply grab for the immediate gratification of earthly pleasures, rather than bow their hearts to the Savior who offers the only way to eternal joy and salvation. We grieve, along with God, for those who reject Jesus’ invitation to life, and we rejoice with our brothers and sisters who, by faith, have accepted that invitation and will join us for the heavenly banquet.
Father, You are glorious and gracious. Thank you for inviting me to know You and to be with You for eternity. I love You, and I hold fast to the hope of entering Your wonderful presence, through Jesus my Savior. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian