When one of those who reclined at table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But He said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”
We are drowning in alphabet soup. The headlines tell us that, "POTUS is the hardest job in the world" and "SCOTUS nominees are interviewing with the President". Something is in the Daily News daily about LGBT, and the people of NOLA are still recovering from Katrina's wrath. We can't escape the "letterizing" even on a lazy Sunday afternoon: "The NFL on CBS."
By the time of the high-profile dinner party, Jesus was famous. And He was being watched by commoners and kings alike. Then He does it. He speaks to the host in a parable. Imagine how the news feeds of today would have reported the event. "Jesus offends Jerusalem's elite!" "The PCBL community is welcomed by the Rabbi!" Huh? What is the PCBL community?
The PCBL community is made up of folks who would be least expected to appear in polite conversation. And no self-respecting, self-righteous rich man would dare invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, or the lame to his banquet. They are outsiders, you see, and that's where they should stay. At least that would be the prevailing attitude. But in the Lord's story, the distracted wealthy and disinterested complacent had forsaken their earlier RSVP. They didn't show up. For them, the banquet just wasn't important.
But those PCBL folks know their place. They spend their lives not fitting in, being disdainfully looked over, and always over-looked. They are hungry, marginalized, never in the upper crust, and in need of mercy. And they know it. But Jesus' parable has them being welcomed to the great feast, sought out, treated lovingly, and fed lavishly. How would Twitter react (#PCBL treated like royalty)? The story was a stunner.
The Lord came to seek and save the lost. And the tragedy then, and now, is that often the lost don't know they are. But for folks who are poor, they know when lavish mercy has been given. The crippled leap with joy on legs made whole. When a blind man is made to see, he doesn't rebuff the grace. And the no-longer lame run to Jesus to worship.
The theme of the Lord's parable at the banquet that night is the theme of His entire ministry. The Kingdom of Heaven is for those who know they need a savior. He says so over and over again.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matthew 5:3-6)
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)
Come to the banquet.