I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.
Today’s Scripture: Luke 14:15-24
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[d] 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,[e] none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
On more than one occasion Jesus told a parable that featured a banquet or a feast. In this parable of the kingdom of God, a man is holding a banquet and the invited guests are too busy to show up — all of them have excuses.
So he says to his servants, “Go quickly to the city’s streets, the busy ones and the side streets, and bring the poor, crippled, blind, and lame.” The servants then later report that there is still room at the table after all these have been invited.
The generous holder of the Great Banquet, then says, in the verses that follow today’s reading, “Go to the highways and back alleys and urge people to come in so that my house will be filled.”
The invitations are extended in wider and wider circles until, ultimately, everyone is invited to the feast — including all those who, in Jesus’ time and culture, would have been excluded.
Likewise, the Saving Grace of God is extended to everyone.
No wonder this image of salvation in Jesus’ parable has such impact. It operates on several levels.
First, the image of food and drink as salvation is literal. In the Kingdom of God—that realm wherever and whenever God’s will is done—everyone has enough to eat. The salvation Jesus brought is the Kingdom of God, and there is no spiritualizing away what that means in very concrete terms.
In the realm of God, where God’s will is done on earth as in heaven, the thirsty receive drink, the hungry receive food, the sick receive care, the imprisoned are visited, and the stranger is welcomed. This is all literal and present tense.
No wonder Jesus’ message could be upsetting to those who first heard it — just as the messages of the prophets were. Sometimes we are too quick to spiritualize the messages of the Bible when the salvation of God is always present. It demands something of us. Often, it challenges our ways of thinking and acting.
In other words, what happens when the words of Jesus or the words of the prophets apply to my life and the life of my community or nation — today?
Salvation means that in the realm of God everyone has enough. How does that happen? What does that mean for you and me and our community, nation and world?
Salvation means that in the realm of God those who are sick receive care. How does that happen? What does that mean for you and me and our community, nation and world?
Salvation means that in the realm of God those who are in prison know they are not forgotten and are still human beings, children of God. How does that happen? What does that mean for you and me and our community, nation and world?
Salvation means that in the realm of God those who are strangers are welcomed. How does that happen? What does that mean for you and me and our community, nation and world?
To consider salvation as a banquet operates on a symbolic level—it symbolizes the nourishment of our spirits. Salvation is satisfaction of the hunger and thirst we have for God and for meaning and purpose in our lives.
Salvation as a banquet also speaks to reconciliation with God and with one another. When you sit down at the table with someone you are, in Biblical terms, reconciled to that person.
When Psalm 23 says, “You’ve prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies” that’s all about reconciliation.
In the communion ritual, we speak of “feasting at His heavenly banquet.” This is another image of heaven and fellowship with God and those who have gone before us.
Our deepest need is not for the things God provides; our deepest need is for God — the one who really quenches our thirst and satisfies our hunger. When we come to the Lord’s Table to commune together, we take these symbols of Christ’s body and blood into our bodies and remember in a tangible way that until we are fed by Jesus Christ, we will not be satisfied.
Writer Nancy Mairs tells about what communion came to mean to her when she came to her present church during a serious illness without having experienced conversion:
“The model I experienced [at that church] was one of inclusion rather than exclusion. Instead of being denied communion unless I converted, I was given communion until I felt strong enough to convert. The nourishing quality of the eucharist, freely offered to anyone who’s famished, has always been a central metaphor for me. I don’t partake because I’m a good [Christian], holy and pious and sleek. I partake because I am a bad [Christian] riddled by doubt and anxiety and anger, fainting from severe hypoglycemia of the soul. I need food.” (Mairs, Nancy. Ordinary Time (Beacon). Quoted by Martin Marty in Context, March 15, 1994)
“Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast”
Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these reflections on a portion of scripture. I hope you will carry these with you throughout your day and night.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster