Today’s story is very like the parable we read in Matthew 22 about the wedding feast. Both dealt with the unworthy guests. I believe it is VERY clear who Jesus is referencing on that count. But this one also deals with another aspect of the guests.
Jesus starts this part of His conversation out by addressing His host directly. As a Pharisee, His host was well connected in society and probably hosted and attended many such affairs. As Jesus points out, when one is invited to a banquet it is expected that the honor will be returned by the guests by including their host in future banquets hosted by the current guests. ‘You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.’ Being a guest obligated you to return the invitation in kind. I have a friend who said that she was taught never to return a dish empty. If someone brings you a plate of cookies or a pan of brownies, always fill that pan or plate with food as you return it.
Jesus tells His host not to invite people who can repay in kind. He tells him to invite the poor, the lame, the blind, and the crippled people. These are the people that have no way to repay the kindness shown to them, but their Maker will provide a better reward instead. Because of the kindness shown to His least fortunate, God will remember the giver eternally. This certainly qualifies as laying up treasures in Heaven.
These are the guests that God has invited to His great feast. Those who have NO way of repaying the honor bestowed on them. The original guests refused the honor, counting themselves as “too busy” to be bothered at the time. Every excuse was used because they did not value the invitation, nor did they value the one inviting them. They were holding out for a better offer; one befitting their station in life.
Those that had nothing gladly accepted the invitation. But that wasn’t enough people to fill the house. So the invitation was extended to others. I noticed that the servant was told to “compel” others to come. I wondered about that word for a little bit. Then I realized that this does not mean that the servants brought people in against their will, but that they enthusiastically shared the benefits of attendance to any who were reluctant to come.
There are people who feel that they are not worthy or good enough to be included in God’s family. They think they need to clean themselves up before coming to Jesus. These are exactly the people our King sent His servants out to “compel” to come in.
You CAN’T be good enough to get this invitation. That’s why we were invited in the first place. Because the King has a gift for us that His Son paid for with His life. If we were good enough we wouldn’t have needed an invitation. You CAN’T clean yourself up enough to meet the standards of the King. HE cleans you. That is His gift to you; free of charge. You simply have to agree to come and allow Him to do His work in your life.
When it comes to entering God’s Kingdom EVERYONE that comes recognizes two truths: 1) you can’t earn your way in, and 2) Jesus paid your entrance fee for you. Right relationship with God begins with those two truths. Everything else is built together with God from there. Accept the invitation! Come to the great banquet!
Father God, thank You for Your personal invitation. Thank You Jesus for paying my entrance fee. Thank You for paying ALL my fees. Please wash me again so I will shine in Your presence. Thank You for the honor of sitting at Your table. Thank You for placing Your righteous robe on me. Forgive me for the grubby finger prints I put on it. Thank You that You washed those away too. Remind me Lord Jesus to extend that same kind of love to others in need. Give me Your wisdom in how to love those around me; including those who have used more than their fair share of chances. You know exactly who I’m talking about Lord. Show me how YOU want me to demonstrate Your love to these individuals. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is to say “no.” Help me know if it is ME saying to say no or You. I never want to put myself in Your place.