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As a child, I loved nothing more than getting together with my family over holiday dinners. Between the passing of mashed potatoes and homemade noodles to laughing over board games, it was a time that warmed my belly and my soul.
Now that I am older and relatives have passed away, however, those holidays pass a bit differently.
The banquet we host is not the same.
The feast, no matter how good the food is, appears to be missing something or someone.
In Luke chapter 14, beginning at verse 15, Jesus makes it known that we are all invited to partake in His banquet. That is, we are all given access to enter into a relationship with Him so that we can participate in His coming.
But not all who are invited will partake. Many get too busy with things of this world (caring for a farm, getting married, or having things to do, for example), that they miss the meal entirely. Then, when the time for the banquet comes, it will be too late.
They won’t realize what they had while they had it until the offer no longer stands.
They won’t realize what they missed until it is already gone.
Salvation and Beyond
While this particular Scripture passage is referring to salvation, I am convicted that I often get too preoccupied with the worries of this life, and I get a familiar feeling that you probably do, too.
More often than not, my mind feels stressed, uneasy, anxious, racing, and busy to the point that I am jittering, in a rush or daze, and can’t concentrate–even when I don’t want to be that way (which is most, if not all of the time).
The striking statement Jesus makes to Martha in Luke 10:41 is now one that runs parallel to this verse today:
“The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions” (Luke 10:41, The Passion Translation)?
Attend the Banquet
Like Martha, Jesus is calling each of us beyond salvation, and into His banquet daily. And it is my prayer, that you and I will attend it daily above all the noise. That we will not miss it and the ways He divinely moves in our lives because we are too caught up in the things that really don’t matter.
“Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come” (Luke 14:16-20, New Living Translation).
Maybe like me, you want to eat at the feast in the Kingdom of God every day (for salvation and growth in your personal relationship with Him), not just once in a great while. You desire for the Lord to create that shift and change within you, and for your life to be authentically all about Him as He moves in, within, around, and through you.
As Luke 14:15 of the New Living Translation writes, you desire to, “eat bread.”
“Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet [eat bread] in the Kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15, New Living Translation)!
You desire to taste and see that the Lord is good in all His ways and be satisfied by His bread alone (Psalm 34:8).
But we can’t eat the bread if we don’t attend the banquet. And to attend the banquet, we have to not only accept the invitation but live it out daily.
For the past few years, I will be transparent in saying I have been in such a dry place for so long. My mental and physical health issues and family struggles have made it paralyzing and overwhelming to the point that I often can’t even see out my car window. I don’t even know when I am hungry.
But amidst my struggles, I have reminded myself daily that I need the Lord. Sometimes even hourly.
Because though I am suffering, I fully acknowledge my need and show up at His table daily. I am ready, hungry, thirsty, and sometimes starving for Him and the bread of life He gives like nothing else. Few days do I look joyful when I arrive. Most days I look weary and authentic.
But when Jesus invited us to His table, He didn’t ask that we have it all put together. He didn’t ask that we not struggle. He asked us to show up as we are. He asked us to come wholeheartedly. To accept the invitation.
Nothing more, and nothing less.
“The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come so that the house will be full. For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet” (Luke 14:21-24, New Living Translation).
This week, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying as usual. I’ve also been more thirsty than my already excessive amount of H20 intake. But it has reminded me that I want to drink of Jesus’ banquet and well whether my thirst is quenched or parched. I want to drink His banquet not just because I know it saves me, but because I know and am confident it is the right thing to desire. And I desire nothing more than to eagerly seek Him with all that I am.
Jesus is ready and waiting for us now. Daily, hourly, every second, His banquet is available. And while His salvation has saved us, He wants us to dine with Him, not just at meals, but at work, in the car, and on the streets. In your secular job and your sacred spaces. On the mission field and in your backyard. Everything is prepared and ready for us to meet with Him, but He is not looking for excuses.
He is not looking for visitations to open fields, caring for five oxen, or even attending weddings, though all of those things are important and can be used for His glory, and He works through all things.
Jesus is looking for those who will seek Him first and then visit the open fields, then care for five oxen, and then attend the wedding. He is looking for those who will attend His banquet among the things pressed around them.
Those who will taste His banquet first, and then watch all of those other things fall into place.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33-34, English Standard Version).