Recently I have been meditating on the Lord’s “banquet” for his children. I had written about my gratitude and joy in being one of the passersby invited in to enjoy the feast after others had failed to respond to the King’s invitation.
Once again today the thought crossed my mind….as I remembered a time when the Lord spoke to my heart after a difficult season and said simply, “Welcome to the banquet.” As I remembered that long-ago assurance from God, I had a picture flash in my mind. It was a memory of my Uncle Vernon, deceased now. He was a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army, a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne stationed at Ft. Benning. He did 3 tours in Vietnam when I was in elementary school. It was my introduction in the 60’s to how unsettled and uncertain life can be. I remember when he volunteered for the third tour overhearing a conversation between him and a family member, perhaps it was my Daddy, who asked him why he was going back. He said, very matter-of-factly, “I know what I’m doing in a war zone, how to survive. I can save the lives of some of those young troops by being there with them.” I remember being in church and praying fervently for his safety and having the Lord’s presence enfold me with such comfort I knew he’d come home. And he did.
When our large extended family got together at the old Antioch Primitive Baptist Church in Barbour County, AL for reunions he was there. He would stand and talk to folks while others went through the line to eat. I asked him one time why he waited until the very end of the line to serve his own plate. He said with a laugh, “So I can take all that I want without feeling bad about taking the last spoonful!” I suspect his pattern of talking, then serving his own plate after others were done was not just a matter of courtesy and conscience about not taking food away from others. It always seemed to me that he simply enjoyed the fellowship with cousins, aunts, and uncles, nieces and nephews, and others and the annual conversations to catch up on one anothers’ lives was more important to him than the food, even as delicious as it always was.
I think the banquet offered by the Lord, too, though delicious for sure, is also about the relationships….with him and with his people, not about food. Like Uncle Vernon, I am content at the King’s banquet to be at the end of the line…..and I can enjoy all that I desire knowing that there is always more for any who come late or desire seconds!
Luke 14:7-15 (The Voice) Jesus: Whenever someone invites you to a wedding dinner, don’t sit at the head table. Someone more important than you might also have been invited, and your host will have to humiliate you publicly by telling you to give your seat to the other guest and to go find an open seat in the back of the room. Instead, go and sit in the back of the room. Then your host may find you and say, “My friend! Why are you sitting back here? Come up to this table near the front!” Then you will be publicly honored in front of everyone. Listen, if you lift yourself up, you’ll be put down, but if you humble yourself, you’ll be honored.
Jesus still wasn’t finished. Now He turned to the host who had invited Him to this gathering.
Jesus: When you host a dinner or banquet, don’t invite your friends, your brothers, your relatives, or your rich neighbors. If you do, they might invite you to a party of their own, and you’ll be repaid for your kindness. Instead, invite the poor, the amputees, the cripples, the blind. Then you’ll be blessed because they can never repay you. Your reward will come from God at the resurrection of the just and good.
Guest: Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!