Anticipating the Great Banquet
Matt. 22:1 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Speaking in parables, Jesus was trying to teach the leaders about the kingdom of heaven. Their earthly aspirations were clouding their eternal perspective. Because of their inattention to the things of the eternal kingdom they would miss out on the eschatological marriage feast. They were being invited to a great banquet and within the kingdom there was great anticipation of this remarkable event. It would be like nothing that anyone had ever experienced before and yet, although invitations were sent, there was no response.
The great banquet was lavishly spread with more delicacies than one can imagine for the kingdom is filled with more resources than we need. Instead of participating in the kingdom the leaders misused and abused those who tried to get them to come to the banquet. The result would be the loss of their city, for Jerusalem would be destroyed because of their inexcusable behavior.
This did not signal the end of the great banquet, but instead the invitation went out to everyone who could be found until the hall was completely filled. The Master prepared a great banquet and while there should have been those who were awaiting with anticipation, they missed it for they were too preoccupied with themselves.
Last evening I was walking in the Plaza area of Kansas City. It’s a beautiful place to be around during the Christmas season for it is beautifully decorated for the holiday. As I looked out over the row of brightly lit shops I recognized a location where there used to be a store that sold beautiful fabrics. I remember winter 33 years ago when my mother and I came down to Kaplan's Fabrics on a snowy day to purchase elegant lace fabric to add to her wedding dress which she had worn 35 years previous — and to prepare it for my wedding which would be in just a few short months. I was so excited to think about all the preparations and was eagerly anticipating my wedding and marriage.
This is the way that it’s supposed to be — excitement and anticipation of the great banquet when we will be seated at the table with our Lord. We are in the season of Advent — where we await with longing the coming of our Messiah, Jesus Christ. We want to be at that great banquet but at the same time we live in a world that is becoming more and more hostile to the kingdom of heaven. They may even kill those who are bringing the invitation to the kingdom. Cities may be lost because of the foolishness of their leaders. But the Master never stops preparing the great banquet.
Just as I was anticipating a wedding so years ago, so we anticipate being reunited with our bridegroom, Jesus. We are already invited to participate in the bounty of the kingdom, sharing and inviting those around us to come. The day will come when all will be prepared and we will be ushered into his holy presence and we will sit at the table and feast. Until that day we we are called to faithful anticipation of the great banquet, being prepared for you and me.
Lord, please help me to live faithfully in anticipation of what you are doing in and through your kingdom work. Amen.
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