“Then he told his servants, ‘We have a wedding banquet all prepared but no guests. The ones I invited weren’t up to it. Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.’ The servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless. And so the banquet was on—every place filled. (Matthew 22:8-10 Msg)
Ever since reading it, Matthew 22:1-10 has been bugging me. Every day you and I are invited to a magnificent wedding feast, but when the prompting comes – when the Holy Spirit twigs our ear to slow down, to pray, read the Bible, to be nicer, to reach out and help someone, to listen – we have the same excuses the people in the parable did. “Come to the grace-filled, life-giving feast? Sit down at that main table? All for free? Gee thanks, Jesus, but I’ve gotta mow the lawn.”
Our women’s small group has long held that we, as people, suck, a theory that gains traction the longer you think about Christians and humanity in general :P.
Back in Jesus’ day, wedding feasts were drawn out affairs, often lasting several days. That’s why the master of ceremonies at the Cana wedding commended the good wine they brought out – he was probably surprised there was still any left! Perhaps that’s why we put off attending this wedding feast we’re invited to. Like the folks in the parable, we always think we have a few days left, no big deal. We can conduct our business and then – checking our watches to make sure we have a minute to spare – duck into the feast, take our seat at the table, and lay in.
More recently I read the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) and this impressed upon me that the doors to this wedding feast won’t always be open. I don’t mean to inspire dread – that’s a terrible reason to follow Jesus. But think about it this way: the Bridegroom arrived in the middle of the night – why only then? Could it be that his arrival was days in the making – him all the while waiting, hoping, inviting people to come along – and some were too late? Or didn’t see the need to attend at all?
In the first parable, which people eventually entered into the feast? The really hungry ones, right? Not the “well fed” ones, but the hungry ones. That makes sense; the hungrier you are, the more likely you’ll go where the free food is! When we’re invited to a spiritual wedding feast every day and we decline the invitation, could it be that we do so because we’re not spiritually hungry enough? Are we so sated with self-righteousness, pride or idolatry that we send our RSVPs back “No”?
Maybe a good prayer for us to pray this week is for spiritual hunger. When tempted, Jesus told the Devil that man doesn’t live on bread alone, but also on the word of God, and this after a forty day fast! Dare we pray to be that hungry, spiritually, that the hunger for actual food is comparable? Something most of us have to experience at least three times a day, and many of us would gladly do more often, if not for waistlines?
If we’re to feel the urgency of the wedding feast and RSVP “Yes” instead of the ambiguous “Maybe” most Facebook Event invites seem to inspire these days – then yes! So this week pray with me for spiritual hunger:
Dearest Lord, thank You for inviting me to your kingdom feast each day, every moment of every day! It’s not an invitation I deserve, nor one that I can ever really live up to, but You invite me anyway, and for that I’m immensely grateful. Lord, help me to say yes. Grant me the mercy of spiritual hunger and gratitude for the grace of that hunger being sated at Your table, and Your table alone. Amen.