Buzzing around my kitchen preparing a variety of dishes for a highly anticipated meal with a special young boy and his mom this evening, joy bubbles up and spills over in happy humming and an irrepressible grin. Shopping, chopping, slicing, dicing, frying, baking and a sink full of dishes are all light tasks when love is your aim.
I grew up in a home where good eats and extravagant hospitality went hand in hand. Both my parents were great cooks, but my mom was in a league all her own. You see, while Dad expressed his affection through hugs, smooches and long philosophical conversations, Mom demonstrated her fondness by feeding friends, family, and strangers alike with the most scrumptious fare you ever wrapped your sweet lips around! She was always up long before dawn, planning and preparing meals for those she cherished. To be fed by my mother was, and still is, to be lavishly loved by her!
I inherited my parents’ passion for gathering folks around meals. Once, when my parents were visiting me in California, my mom and I spent a whole day cooking up a feast for several of my friends. Just before dinner, my best friend called to say that she wasn’t going to make it. I was absolutely crushed. It was all I could do to quell my tears and put on a brave face for the rest of our guests. You see, ultimately, it wasn’t a just meal that was brushed aside, it was all the love that went into preparing it and our desire to spend time together that felt so casually blown off.
In Luke 14:15-24, Jesus has just finished giving some hospitality tips such as: don’t take the best seat at the table for yourself – allow your host to honour you and invite those who are marginalized and can’t repay you to dinner. Someone pipes up about how fabulous it will be in the sweet by-and-by to, “eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus responds with a parable: “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.’”
Much to the host’s dismay and anger, all the invited guests reply with excuses: “I’m checking out my new property.” “I’m checking out my new livestock.” “I’m checking out my new wife.” The host then sends his servant out into streets and alleys to invite the poor and homeless. When that has been done and there is still room for more, the host says to his servant, “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were (originally) invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”
Jesus makes a point – God has prepared a great feast to which everyone is invited. However, everyone needs to RSVP. In Revelation 3:20, Jesus pleads with his people, “Behold, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If your heart is open to hear my voice and you open the door within, I will come in to you and feast with you, and you will feast with me.”
Amazingly, through Jesus’ sacrificial death and victorious resurrection, God has graciously made a way for you and me to not just enjoy a meal together, but to gloriously do life together with Him! The exceptionally good news is that we don’t have to wait ‘til the hereafter to begin enjoying His abundant life because, “everything is ready now,” and has been made especially for you, with love.