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Saturday, April 6, 2013

You Are Invited to Dinner




You Are Invited to Dinner

 

 

And what a dinner it will be! I’m getting excited! Let’s listen to the description of this homecoming dinner that you and I are invited to–this celebration- in the Bible.  Here is how it is described in the Bible.  “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine- the best of meats and the finest of wines.  On this mountain He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations: He will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces:  He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth.  The Lord has spoken.”  (Isaiah 25:6-8)

 

This is a feast at the end of history, the ultimate wedding celebration-feast! (Rev. 19)   Jesus mentions this dinner or feast when He says:  “Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 8:11)  Can you imagine it- feasting not just on physical food, but also on the spiritual – feasting with people from every generation – people who lived thousands of years ago – and of course feasting in Gods’ presence?

 

Jesus has been called the real “Master of the Feast.”  And why is this?  Scripture calls the first of Jesus’ miracles a “sign,” or a signifier of what Jesus’ ministry would be about. Jesus’ first miracle happened at a neighbors’ wedding reception where the wine had run out too soon. The hosts of the party were embarrassed that now the guests would have no more wine to enjoy. So because his mother Mary nagged him, Jesus turned several large jugs of water into very fine wine.  And the party kept on going! (John 2:1-11)  If this first miracle is a “sign” of what Jesus is about, as Scripture says, it seems to say that Jesus is about bringing joy and bringing us all back together for a communal dinner and wine!    

 

Jesus too, pictures Himself and the salvation He brings, as a feast.  He tells us, “I am the Bread”. (John 6:35)  We can feast on Him. Jesus asked His followers to remember Him until He returns by eating a meal of bread and wine. The meal is called the “Lord’s supper” or “Communion” or the “Eucharist”. The bread is His body that was broken for us and the wine is His blood that was shed for us.  When we eat this feast we show our Lords’ death until he returns. 

 

Jesus’ salvation has been called a feast.  It is not only a fact that we can believe but we can feel it and taste it and be nourished by it also! The words in Scripture call us to “taste and see” that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)   The Psalmist writes: “How sweet are your Words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  (Psalm 119:108)  There is a difference between just believing that honey is sweet and tasting it and enjoying it. And there is a difference between believing in Jesus’ love intellectually and allowing His love to become real down in our heart.  

 

Like Christ we also have a hidden spiritual dinner (John 4:32) that is ours to feed on, - this new life in the Spirit that we have when we follow Christ.  Without Christ it is normal for us humans to be driven by anger and fear and to feel that our lives are sometimes out of control.  But when we believe in our hearts and digest the truths into our lives that God is in control and that He can take care of our problems, then we are strengthened and have a new sense of peace.

 

 It is also normal for us to believe that we are hopefully accepted by God because we are good law abiding citizens and we obey and go to church, etc.  But the gospel teaches us that we aren’t accepted by God because we obey or do good, but we obey and do good because we are accepted by God through Christ. Christ doesn’t love us because we are beautiful, but we become beautiful because of Christ’s love.  “We love God because He first loved us,” (1 John 4:19) His amazing love changes us and His Spirit nudges us into the truth of his love.  

 

 Also Jesus tells a parable or story about a wedding banquet (Matthew 22:1-14) and tells us that the kingdom of God is similar to his parable.  Jesus tells that a king is preparing a wedding feast for his son and invites all of his family and friends and neighbors.  The king’s friends and family ignore his invitation because they are too busy to bother with his feast.  This hurts and angers the king so he asks his workers to go out into the streets and invite anyone and everyone.  “So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” (Matt.22:10)

 

Jesus’ story ends with the king coming to his wedding feast and noticing that one of the guests isn’t wearing a “wedding coat”.  The king has this guest ushered out of the party since he is not dressed appropriately, or he might have even been naked. And then Jesus’ parable ends with these words: “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”  (Matthew 22:14)  What does this parable mean?

 

 Bible scholars believe that it may have been the custom back then for the host of a wedding party to provide the guests with wedding coats, particularly if the guests came in directly from the dirty streets. The wedding coat speaks of the righteousness that God, the gracious host, provides for all who accept his dinner invitation.  God invites undeserving people to His sumptuous feast, and then provides the righteousness (clean clothes) that the invitation demands. And of course, Jesus is that righteousness.  If we do not allow Him to clean us up – if we do not trust Him and allow Him to work in our lives and cover us – then we won’t fit into that ultimate party feast!

 

Jesus’ parable teaches that we must be clothed correctly to join the feast.  Evidently our normal clothes aren’t good enough – we aren’t good enough on our own.  A worldly life of sensual pleasure doesn’t make it and the religious life of ethical strictness doesn’t either.  Both are spiritual dead ends!  But to accept the gift of the wedding coat and to live a life based on Jesus’ salvation will bring us finally to the ultimate feast at the end of history.  We can have a foretaste of that future salvation now – while on earth we get little glimpses here and there – but they are only a foretaste of what is to come!

 

 

 

 

 

Many ideas and quotes in this blog are taken from Timothy Kellers’ book The Prodigal God , Chapter 7 “The Feast of the Father” pp. 118-149. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 


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