The parable of the great banquet provides us the opportunity to consider what it means for God to be a host and a guest. Are we willing to give what we have received?

Introduction

Read passage here.

The word apocalypse means “revealing,” and in theology, it speaks to revealing the truth, the reality of the situation. 

When Jesus entered the home of the host, he noticed some clamored for prestigious spots at the table. Instead of seeking the place of honor, Jesus suggests that people seek a humble seat so that the host may move them up to a place of honor. 

How do we understand what it means to be a guest or a host? Importantly, what can we understand by considering God to be a host and guest? 

The Table around which we gather and have Holy Communion tells a great truth. Let’s consider that great Table first and then think of Jesus’ teachings about how we should consider our tables and our seats.

The Two Tables and the Great Banquet

The exiled and aged apostled John wrote our sacred book’s last work and titled it, “Apokalypsis” (meaning “The Revelation” in its original language). Over those hard decades, he has experienced trials and the tumult of persecution. He has seen friends and people under his care suffer.

While in exile, John put words to the great culmination of our personal and cosmic history. He could have used many images to describe the life and plan of God, but under the inspiration of the Spirit, he uses the image of a great banquet held around a Table.

He writes, “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, 

“Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God

the Almighty reigns.

7  Let us rejoice and exult

and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and his Bride has made herself ready;

8  it was granted her to clothe herself

with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

9 And the angel said2 to me, “Write this: blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

Whom does God invite? God invites a whole swath of people from every tribe, language, nation, and tongue. Short people, tall people, city people, and country people. Those who knew radiant joy and those who knew that grief casts a long shadow. God invites all to take a place at the Table, the marriage feast/banquet of the Lamb, where Christ himself sits with us. We will know what once mystified us.

It’s just not us, though. This has been happening in our midst for well over 100 years. This congregation was founded in 1716; its sanctuary erected in 1921. Over the years, how many people have sat where you sit? How many have stood where I now stand? How many times have bread and cup passed from this Table to hands and then hands to lips? 

From generation to generation Christ has welcomed all people. From generation to generation people like you and me have welcomed the person and the message of Christ into our lives. And one day, we will exchange our button-ups and blouses for fine linen, bright and pure. 

We eat at one table while remembering the other. Every time we celebrate Holy Communion we are picturing the great Marriage Feast. There at that Larger Table, to your left and to your right, soul after soul, face after face, name after name, we will see one another—trophies of God’s grace; people rescued by the Lamb.” 

Jesus Shows Us the Heart of God

 “You are blessed because you are invited.” So said the angel, so wrote John. It is enough to be invited. The host wants to be with you! You are invited because God loves you and God loves company.

God invites all—no wonder this great teeming crowd in John’s Revelation rejoices and exults and gives God glory. We don’t celebrate because we got good seats at the Table. We rejoice because the one who invites all people to celebrate at the banquet is just so good! We rejoice in the warm and wide hospitality of God.

Any place around the Table of Christ is a seat of honor. It is the honor bestowed upon us by permanent forgiveness and perpetual grace that allows us to see how we are lifted up because God came so low to save us!

What Christ preached, he lived out, and he lived out because he knew this was the very heart of God. He preached and invited people who could not pay him back, and his reward was not found on this earth, was it?

No, his reward for such big-hearted hospitality was a cross. No, even Christ was not repaid on earth, but he will be repaid at our resurrection when we join him at the marriage feast of the Lamb. You, dear people, are the rewards for Christ’s work. 

Our Response to the Banquet

When we receive the invitation of God to enjoy Divine fellowship around the Table, it’s as if we receive an invitation that says, “You are invited to live in the reality of God. Please RSVP by giving to others what you have received.” How will we respond?

Will you offer hospitality to Christ and his vision of life and a world restored with equality? Will his message have a home in our hearts where we say that we refuse to live with transactional relationships?  Will we see the inherent goodness and worthiness of those around us and lift them up? Will we have a mindset that sees that there are enough chairs around the Table for everyone? 

This story of Jesus’ is not just a parable, it is an apocalypse. God is the great host who invites those who cannot pay back. God grants seats of honor to those who were humbled on earth. 

After seeing this and hearing of the Marriage Feast of the Lamb and Jesus’ own words in the gospel, it makes sense that we would want to be a church with a welcome as wide as heaven’s. 

I once thought the Table was much shorter with way fewer chairs. Isn’t it amazing how a person can be stuffed on grace but starving of acceptance of othes? Thanks to God’s patience, I realized that the Table was much bigger than I had ever dared dream and that I was as near to Christ no matter where I sat or who sat around the Table with me. 

Christ, very God of very God, our Host, invites you to bring yourself. In turn, you can play host with his message and broaden your friendships and kindness to others. When you do that you embody the apocalypse – how things are meant to be. 

Not win-lose. No over-under. Instead, side by side and face to face, realizing that the only reason we are here is by the benevolence of God. Wherever you are in your life, wherever you are seated in your faith, it is a place of honor for God greets you there.

To be a host. To be a guest of our Almighty and Great God. God created this home for us and has given us a seat at the Table with a worldwide communion of every nation, tongue, tribe, and distinction. Every seat at the Table of Christ is an honor. Every day is a banquet.

“And the angel said, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’”

May Christ and his meaning have a home in our hearts. Amen.  

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