Come to the Table

My Lord, my God, You came to save the lost, heal the sick, and help the needy. Help me to be Your hands and feet on the Earth today. Help me to love others, include others, bring hope to others and above all – share You with others!

Series Focus: “Eyes to See and Ears to Hear”

Being left out might be one of the worst feelings we experience. As a child, you might have been left off the invitation list to the “cool kid’s” party, or maybe you were chosen last for the kickball team at school. When we reach adulthood the pain of rejection isn’t any easier, we just cope differently. We tell ourselves we don’t care, it wasn’t that important – who needs “that group” anyway? We have our own place of belonging so let’s just stick with those people. But is that what Jesus taught? If you search the scriptures you will find that although He did call the twelve apostles specifically, He never excluded anyone from experiencing the love He came to share. He was intentional about not only inviting, but also helping many – in spite of the cultural norms of the day.

Often, during my hours of study, I’ve wondered how my life includes or excludes others. Those who look differently, believe differently, behave differently – do I choose to spend time loving them? Jesus asked us to serve/include/invite others. Do we? Most likely, yes. But who is it that we include? Those who we are comfortable inviting? The women who already accept us? Those who don’t argue or grumble about what we are teaching? Who do we allow into our circles and why is this so important to God? Let’s look at the parable of the Great Banquet found in Luke 14:

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.  And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

There is much to learn from Jesus’ words in this passage. He gives clear instruction on who should be invited – yet this does not happen. Those who were invited received two invitations. One was sent early, so they would know and be prepared. The second came at the time the banquet was ready for them. Why didn’t they come? Scripture points out that they were concerned with what seems to be everyday business rather than the banquet prepared for them. The host then sends out his servants to bring those off the streets. The blind, the lame, the “less fortunate” are now coming to the table.

Jesus wants His disciples – us – to show radical generosity and compassion to those who are hurt, lonely, lost, weary, broken and needy. This is the banquet He is throwing. Those making excuses, not receiving the grace Jesus offers, will not be attending the eternal banquet.

We need only look to Matthew, one of the twelve, who Jesus called to follow Him. Matthew was not only lost, he was a tax collector. At that time a tax collector was lower than your average sinner – so to speak. Why did Jesus choose Matthew? Because Matthew needed Jesus. Take a look at Matthew 9:9-13:

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Being a follower of Jesus means inviting as Jesus did. Our churches should be a haven of mercy and love! The very place the hurting, the broken, the poor, and needy will find the most generous banquet awaiting. What if the only Jesus a person ever experienced was the one who required them to be worthy before being invited? This person would never sit at the table. But because Jesus desires mercy, there will be a seat saved for all who come to know Him.

Let’s be women who reach out our hand to the poor, to the needy, to those who look different than us and show them the real Jesus. The Jesus who holds a great banquet for those who trust in Him, and rescues those in need.

Holding Fast to Hope,

Scripture References: Luke 14:16-24; Luke 14:12-13; Matthew 9:9-13; Psalm 9:18; Proverbs 31:20


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