Then the master told his servant, “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet." Luke 14:23-24
Have you ever thrown a party and no one came? Or maybe you planned a special celebration but the friends you wanted to celebrate with began sending their regrets saying, "Sorry, but I can't come...." It happens.
Take, for example, the story of Kathleen Gooley. You see, Kathleen was expecting to celebrate her wedding with friends and family when the groom decided he wanted to back out. That would have been bad enough, but she had already paid for the wedding reception and she couldn't get her money back. So Kathleen decided to celebrate, but not with the same crowd. She contacted several organizations near her home and invited homeless men, women, and children to the gala. They came, too, in their jeans and T-shirts, and a few dresses and shirts and ties. Most of them hadn't had a good meal for a long time.
It was a beautiful occasion. The tables were covered with pink tablecloths, and the centerpieces were roses and carnations. They dined on hors d'oeuvres, stuffed chicken breast, potatoes, vegetables, salad and, yes, wedding cake. They ate and they danced and they forgot the pain and the uncertainty of their lives. “You’re blessing us with your day,” one man said to Kathleen Gooley. Gooley said that she had never forgotten the one night, 23 years prior, that she had spent in a homeless shelter. Her sadness had turned to blessing for others.
We don't know if Kathleen was influenced by a story which Jesus once told, but what she did effectively enacted the drama which Jesus described. You’ll find it in Luke 14. Here's how it goes. Jesus himself told it. "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.' But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.' Still another said, ‘I just got married so I can't come.' The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' ‘Sir,' the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.' Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.’ ‘I tell you, said Jesus, ‘not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet'" (Luke 14:16‑24).
Kathleen, the jilted bride, was determined that the food and festivities wouldn’t be pushed aside by grief. Jesus told the story to illustrate the fact that He came to His own people, but even they rejected Him, but to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:11). Chasing our own dreams dulls our sensitivity to the will of God and quenches our readiness to respond to Him. Have you turned down an invitation to the feast of life because you were busy, “buying a field?” Jesus wanted all to know that no one is excluded from the reaches of His love and concern‑‑the homeless, the refugee, the hurting, and the guilty. He still says, "Whoever comes to me, I will never drive away" (John 6:37). "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
You’ve received an invitation to the party. Nothing you have to do today is more important than saying, “Yes, Jesus! I’m coming!”
Resource reading: Luke 14:16-24