Invitation to the Banquet

In Worship by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

Devotional Guide

Daily Bible Readings:

Monday, October 3. 1) Read Luke 9:10-17. How would you describe Jesus’ attitude and response to people who followed him and were curious about his message?  2) What did he do for the crowd when it became apparent that they needed something to eat?

Tuesday, October 4. Read Exodus 16:1-8.  1) What did the Israelites complain about in this text?  2) What was the basis/cause of their complaint?  3) How did God resolve the complaint?

Wednesday, October 5. Read Luke 22:14-23. 1) What meal did Jesus provide for his disciples in this text?  2) Why do you think meals were such important occasions in the Bible?

Thursday, October 6. Read Mark 2:13-17.  1) Who was at Levi’s party?  2) How did the Pharisees react to the fact that Jesus attended the party?  3) Why?

Friday, October 7. Read Luke 14:7-14. 1) What do people tend to do when they throw parties?  2) How did Jesus say we should organize our “banquets?”  3) What do you think that would look like today?

Saturday, October 8. Read Luke 14:16-24. This is Sunday’s sermon text.

Prayer for the Week:

O God, please do not allow us to be satisfied with what we have experienced but rather be open, inviting people in imitation of Jesus who loved a good meal with strangers. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn of the Week:

If the Name of the Savior
by Jessie Brown Pounds, 1915

If the name of the Savior is precious to you,
If His care has been constant and tender and true,
If the light of His presence has brightened your way,
O will you not tell of your gladness today?

Oh, will you not tell it today?
Will you not tell it today?
If the light of His presence has brightened your way,
Oh, will you not tell it today?

If your faith in the Savior has brought its reward,
If a strength you have found in the strength of your Lord,
If the hope of a rest in His palace is sweet,
O will you not, brother, the story repeat? [Refrain]

If the souls all around you are living in sin,
If the Master has told you to bid them come in,
If the sweet invitation they never have heard,
O will you not tell them the cheer-bringing word? [Refrain]

Devotional Article of the Week:

A Place at Dinner with Jesus
Who would you have eat with you at your table?
by Randy Becton

In the mid 1820’s, wealthy plantation owners in Atlanta, Georgia were best known for the lavish dinner parties they gave, honoring each other, famous authors, politicians, businessmen, and anyone who would further their reputation of “greatness.”

One thing was certain about these gatherings: no one would expect a slave to be seated with them in a place of honor. Slaves and white people didn’t eat dinner together in the same room, much less at the same table back then. Some call it “culture” while others know it as “racism.”

The scandal that Jesus caused in first century Palestinian Judaism was precisely this: Jesus welcomed table fellowship with beggars, prostitutes, tax collectors and others thought of as social outcasts or religiously inferior.

Jesus loved sinners. He knew who the hated were. He welcomed people to share a meal with him not just when they had a bad reputation, but even when that reputation was well-deserved. We are told that the religious leaders were outraged, in part, because they believed these dinners gave God a bad name.

Those who know the significance of “sharing a meal” in the Eastern culture of Jesus’ day tell us that the invitation to “come to my table” meant that friendship was being offered. So if you invited Zacchaeus to a meal in the presence of a number of people, you would be sharing his shame and guilt, and even an approval of his sinful life. (Luke 19:1-10) That’s exactly Jesus’ mistake — unless we understand that Jesus was bringing Zacchaeus God’s offer of a fresh beginning, new dignity, a friendship with God.

When I read about the way Jesus treated people, I see Jesus, whom Scripture claims is God come in the flesh, constantly representing the most dramatic expression of God’s redeeming love and mercy. Scripture gives us the picture of Jesus regularly sharing meals with people. But the picture leads us to think that the Jewish religious leaders weren’t at the table with Jesus. Jesus’ message was one of peace and reconciliation with God, for whoever knew they were not worthy of God’s attention. But the last to appear willing to humble themselves were the religious leaders (according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).

Jesus once spoke to an expert in the Jewish law and told him that the most important commandment in the Law is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” The second most important commandment is “Love others as much as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39) In his essay on “Healing Through Meal-Sharing”, Brennan Manning says that Jesus is telling us “the only norm for a good and faithful disciple is that he be a professional lover of God and people.”*

The conclusion that I must put into practice — if I claim to belong to Jesus — is to treat every person as a guest at my table for a meal of love, fellowship, and mercy. I live in a relationship with the living God, who is King over all the universe, and I’m the child of a King. I have a seat at His table. I must invite others to the table of the King because of the King’s invitation to them to come and join us for the feast.

I began by referring to the plantations around Atlanta. It would have been viewed “scandalous” to invite slaves to a meal with their owner. But God is the owner of all that exists! His amazing offer to humanity is that, though our sins have separated us from him, he has reconciled us to himself through the cross of Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

We are all invited to God’s banquet table to eat with the friend of sinners, Jesus Christ!

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