When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’” …
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a real banquet. I’ve attended large dinners in hotel conference rooms, and a few nice wedding receptions, but not a great banquet like the one Jesus’ story imagines. Banquets feature extravagant decorations and delicious food served in several courses. People attend banquets to celebrate big, important moments. The banquet hall should be filled with a large, joyful crowd. I suppose some banquets could be formal, like a White House state dinner, while others are fun and festive, like the lavish affairs of The Great Gatsby. I think the banquet Jesus had in mind would be a party and a feast and a celebration all rolled into one.
Of course, Jesus’ parable points us heavenward to the grand celebration we will enjoy in God’s presence, the great feast Jesus will host for all his faithful followers. As we continue reading the parable, we will learn about the invited guests and their attitudes toward the banquet, but for now, let’s enjoy imagining what it will be like to sit down at that enormous table with brothers and sisters in faith from every nation, tribe, people and language. The food will come from the magnificent abundance of heaven, perfectly delicious for our heavenly bodies and good for our imperishable souls. We will sing praise to God and declare his glories and goodness. We will share stories of miracles, answered prayers, spiritual transformations and the Spirit’s power flowing through God’s people. And our host, Jesus himself, will embrace each of us with grace, assuring us that this celebration will never end.
It’s good for us to think about heaven. Jesus talked about it all the time, and so should we. His invitation to the great banquet is the invitation to eternal life, and while we have important work to do here and now – like sharing this invitation with others – we should also rejoice in the hope of joining the heavenly celebration. When life is hard we should look ahead with faithful expectation to the beauty of heaven. When we feel stressed by the brokenness of this world, we should anticipate the perfection that awaits us. We should remember Jesus’ invitation to the great banquet and give thanks.
Thank You, Father, for inviting me to heaven. I rejoice in Your goodness and wait with great hope for that everlasting time of celebration and praise. May Your banquet hall be filled with multitudes of faithful people who have found eternal life in Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian