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Why Is The Kingdom Of God Like A Banquet (In Dublin)?

4 May 2014

Dublin Fearless TeamThis past week our church has had the privilege of hosting 20 Interns from the UK for a week we called “Fearless”. The idea was to push the 20 interns out of their comfort zone by making them do things they have never done before and engage with people they wouldn’t normally have to engage with. Our hope also was to help the people of Dublin consider what it is like to live a life without fear, which was one of the reasons Jesus came to earth – see Hebrews 2.14-15 & 1 John 4.16-18. It has been super fun and I’ll hopefully collate the stories from the week and post them on this blog over the next few days.

However the climax to their week is, with 48 hours notice, to throw a banquet for the city of Dublin and invite everyone to come. That banquet is tonight, all details can be found here. So why are we hosting this banquet? Well it’s a final test for our fearless team. But more than that I was inspired by this last minute banquet that was held by my cousin Luke a few years ago in York and wanted to do the same in Dublin. Both banquets are inspired by Luke 14 where Jesus tells a parable about a banquet to explain what the kingdom of God is like. Tonight we want to act out the parable and give a demonstration of the kingdom of God in Dublin .

So why is the kingdom of God like a banquet? Here are 5 reasons from Luke 14.15-24.

(1) Everyone is invited.

banquet 1Jesus tells the parable in the home of a prominent religious leader where he is being carefully watched (vs1). So far he has been challenging their scrupulous adherance to laws at the expense of showing mercy (vs2-6), their desire to promote themselves (vs7-11) and the rich/privileged circles they hang out in. He then explains that the kingdom of God is like a a great banquet. The invites are sent out but when the first round of guests are invited they all decline. Then he tells the servants to invite the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. Then when there is still space he says go out into the roads and country lanes to ensure the house is full.

The first lesson we learn is that everyone is invited, no-one is excluded from the guest list into the kingdom of God – the rich and the poor, the good and the bad, the Jews and the Gentiles, the near and the far…everyone is invited.

(2) People make the worst excuses not to accept Jesus’ invite.

Banquet 2The first round of guests give very weak and revealing excuses as to why they can’t come. The first says he has bought a field and must go and see it (his wealth comes before God), the second says he has just bought 5 yoke of oxen and must test them out (his work comes before God) and the third says he has just got married and must be with his wife (his marriage comes before God). However if you read the passage closely you’ll see that each of the excuses are transparently false. The field would be their tomorrow, the oxen would already have been tested before purchase and the wife could have joined in banquet.

The second lesson we learn is that although everyone is invited, people make terrible and empty excuses to exclude themselves. Underlying every excuse is something in our lives that has become more important than God, in fact something else (wealth, work or marriage) has become our god.

(3) The Religious Leaders don’t typically like it.

As explained above Jesus tells the parable at a dinner party of a religious leader with lots of other religious leaders watching. He wants to challenge them on their use of their money, their law-abidance and their self-exaltation. The excuses given are symptomatic of the excuses that wealthy, secure and privileged religious leaders would give. These people had made the kingdom of God about obeying laws and keeping the right company, so when Jesus says EVERYONE is invited, including and especially the dregs of society who have probably lived rather immoral lives, it riles them. In fact, this is one of the over-arching messages of Luke’s gospel, the poor get in but the rich are excluded, the sinner is welcomed whilst the religious person is shunned, the pharisee is offended whilst the prostitute is exalted…and so on and so forth.

So the third lesson we learn about the kingdom of God is that it is typically the religious elite who don’t like it.

(4) The Poor love it

banquet 3As has already been hinted, just as much the religous elite don’t like the kingdom of God, the poor love it. For once in their lives they find a place of acceptance and value. They are treated as real people, important people, with real names and identities. They find themselves at the heart of God’s kingdom. This parable seems to suggest that God’s final kingdom in heaven will be full of the poor of the earth…what a thought!

The fourth lesson is that this is an upside-down and inside up kingdom where the last are first and the poor are made rich.

(5) The Church is called to “go out”

The man in the parable (aka God) has servants (aka the church) who go out and invite people to the banquet (aka the kingdom of God). And when the servants are rejected they are to go back out and find others. And when they come back and find that there are still some spare seats, they are to go out a third time. Jesus is contrasting the religious elite (who enjoyed their stationary, self-centred lifestyle where people came to them) to the true church (where God’s servants are to go out and invite in the poor, the crippled and the lame). The Church was never meant to become a static. As The Catholic Priest, theologian and author Hans Küng put it brilliantly when he said:

“A church which pitches its tents without constantly looking out for new horizons, which does not continually strike camp, is being untrue to its calling… [we must] play down our longing for certainty, accept that which is risky, and live by improvisation and experimentation”.

So there you have it. 5 lessons as to why the kingdom of God is like a banquet.

Do join us tonight, 6-8pm, at 5-6 Chancery Place for what should be a fun evening.

 

 

 

 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 10 May 2014 9:44 am

    Cool concept. I once heard Francis Chan give this same illustration about how he did it with his own church in downtown L.A.
    Great post! Press on for the Kingdom
    -Tobia

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