Luke 14:15 One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. 17 At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ 20 Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ 23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”
Little by little Jesus was opening up the peoples’ eyes to concept of the kingdom. People seemed to think that they wanted a taste of that kingdom but Jesus realized that they didn’t understand the commitment involved. In the Jewish culture the banquet was often used to illustrated the bliss which would be found in heaven. Therefore, Jesus used this metaphor to speak about the kingdom. Examining life’s priorities meant realizing that the kingdom was of more value than anything else that might come up in life. The call to the kingdom wasn’t always going to be convenient. The duties of life often get in the way of answering the kingdom call and so the excuses begin to roll in. There are business transactions which need to be completed, family issues at hand, or financial troubles which need to be resolved. The timing of the kingdom call isn’t always convenient to the priorities in life and that becomes the problem.
When those who are giving the opportunity of life in the kingdom refuse to respond, the movement of God will go elsewhere. The Spirit of God begins to move among the poor and needy for they respond. The timing isn’t inconvenient for them and they begin to fill up the house and yet there is more room. Finally the Spirit will go out into the roads and lanes and bring in any who will drop everything and enter the bliss of heaven. But for those who had too much going on — who felt the timing was inconvenient — they missed the banquet, never to be invited again.
The time to respond is when the invitation is given. The offer will not be made at a later time and when we simply think it’s inconvenient, we are allowing the things of life to take precedent over the things of God.
What is it that has become so important in life that it has taken priority over the kingdom? We all go through seasons in life and with each season come new and different priorities. I’m in the season of Grandparenthood. I love my granddaughter, but I would be doing her a disservice if I didn’t make my participation in the kingdom a priority. Why? Because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be passing on to her the importance of faith. Instead, if I made her the most important person in my life, she would grow up believing that all of life revolves around her, leading her to be self-centered. As much as we love our grandchildren and we want them to succeed in every sport and extracurricular activity there is, when we give up the central place of God in our lives for the things of this world, we are missing out on that which is better. No, the timing of the things of this world will not always be convenient to the things of the kingdom, but that’s what helps to place priority on what becomes most important.
I know there are some preacher’s kids who feel that they were cast aside for the work of the church. I don’t think that is what Jesus means here. But I think there is an invitation into spiritual life — not religious work — which must take priority. When I was a child we moved from Germany to California. The pace of life was much different in America than it had been in Germany. My parents were involved in ministry and they were busy, but so were we! There were four active children in the household and as American life began to dominate my parents realized that the pace of things was a bit out of control. Family devotions had always been a priority in the household. We had breakfast together as a family, read from the word and prayed together. This was so important to my parents that when we moved to California they realized they would have to change their own schedule to make sure that this could happen on a daily basis. All of us would have to get up earlier every morning so that we could spend time with the Lord as a family. It taught the four of us that the kingdom was a priority -- even when it was inconvenient.
There is an invitation to respond to life in the kingdom and the timing won’t always be convenient. We need to learn to be spiritually sensitive to the moving and nudging of the Holy Spirit. This comes when we settle into listening to God so that we can hear the invitation to participate. The noise of life's clutter is far too often subtly distracting us from the kingdom invitation.
Lord, help me to hear your call and direction, and may you give me the strength to respond without delay. Amen.