One of those at table with Jesus said to him, “Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.”
Imagine seeing with your own eyes Pharisees, scribes, elders and chief priests dining with the Lord. Wow! If digital cameras existed back then, this picture would have been the picture perfect image of heaven on earth. Why not? The Lord should be surrounded by His people, the people of God, the Chosen People of God. They should be enjoying a meal together.
But maybe there was a reason why cameras didn’t exist back then. Maybe the Lord didn’t want us to have a false image of what heaven looks like. Maybe there would be some problems with this picture.
Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God. It seems like everyone was enjoying the meal and conversation until someone blurted out, “Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.” At that moment, I think the music stopped, the Lord stood still, and everyone stopped talking. At that moment, the Lord found it necessary to set some things straight, to clear some things up.
We often think of heaven as a banquet in which our closest friends are invited and agree to attend. But our banquets are not always God’s banquets. Our guests do not always include God’s guests. Just like our plans are not always God’s plans, so our invitations are not always His invitations. Our meals are not always to His liking.
From the very beginning the Lord knew that His own would reject Him. Although Pharisees and scribes would invite Him over for dinner, they would never dare come to the Lord’s dinner. That was just too risky. What would their friends think? What would their relatives say? Of course, the Pharisees and scribes found it safe to invite Jesus, they could always use their invitation as an excuse to drill the Lord for hours, but it was not kosher to accept an invitation from Him. That would mean accepting (or acknowledging) Him, and that would be going way too far.
The problem with this picture of heaven on earth is that everyone and everything is backwards, screwed up and completely reversed!
First. We are not the host and the Lord the invited guest. The Lord is the host and we are His invited guests. We have been invited to His banquet, not the other way around. Deep down it’s the same old same old: We think we are “God” and God is our creation. We are not! He is not! We have been invited to participate in His Universe, not the other way around.
Second. The meal isn’t the right meal. We keep trying to eat our meal, not the Lord’s meal. We keep trying to serve the Lord our laws, not His laws. Again, time has not erased this problem. It’s only made things worse!
Third. We never invite everyone. We just invite a select group of friends. Of course we invite the Lord, but deep down we hope He is a no show. The reality, however, is different. The Lord keeps putting undesirable people in our lives! He keeps insisting that we invite everyone and attend to everyone: the “blind”, the “crippled” and the “lame”. In other words: the prideful, the vane and the sensual.
The problem with our guest list is that it is far too small for the Lord. Yes, the people we wish to invite should be invited, but far too many guests are missing from our list.
Finally. The banquet is not to be held in our room. It is to be held in the upper room. Christ decided to hold His own banquet, His own feast, HHHis own Supper, inviting whomever He wished to attend. He invited those voted least likely to succeed (His Apostles) and extended His invitation to those who never ever expected to receive an invitation: the Romans, the Greeks – the Gentiles.
The Host offered himself to all.
God’s ways are not our ways. Thank God! The Lord does not consider His relatives or His friends to be the only Chosen People. He considers those who love Him and accept Him (do His Will) to be His brothers, sisters, mother and friends.
If only the guests that evening knew...If only they knew who it was that was in their presence; that was reclining near them. If they did, they would have been present at the Lord’s meal, as His guest, reclining at His dining table, in the upper room, in Jerusalem, among His brothers and sisters, his friends.
All are invited. Not all accept the invitation. All are welcomed. Not all walk in.
The Jews believed that because they were Jews they would automatically be saved - en masse – by God. Not so! Not so, says the Lord. Instead, salvation goes to those who accept the Lord for who He is, not for who we are. He invites. We can accept.
This is the new normal. Let’s not miss out.