Advent Day 11: Good News for the Needy

In Luke chapter 14, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a banquet invitation.

 “Jesus said to him, ‘A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.  And at the time for the banquet, he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, “Come, for everything is now ready.”  But they all alike began to make excuses.  The first said to him, “I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.”  And another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them.  Please have me excused.”  And another said, “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”  So the servant came and reported these things to his master.

 Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, “Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.”  And the servant said, “Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.”  And the master said to the servant, “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.  For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet” ‘ “ (Luke 14:16-24).

Do you see yourself in this story?  We are the “poor, crippled, blind, and lame.”  We had nothing of value, worth, or recognition in the world’s eyes to bring to the banquet.  We were totally needy, dependent on what the host had to offer.  The kingdom of God is hosting a banquet, put on by God Himself, and all are invited regardless of social status.  In fact, the pride of the social elite or religious elite will keep them out of the kingdom.

The first century world had such a powerful class system that determined who was in or out of the action.  Jesus turns that system on its head.  All are welcome at the banquet table of the Lord.  The first requirement is to recognize our need, something the original invitees who ended up excluded could not bring themselves to do.

This idea of “good news for the needy” is a prominent theme in the kingdom parables of Jesus.  The stories of the two debtors (Luke 7:41-50), the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7), the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), and the laborers in the vineyard who receive the same wage for various hours worked (Matthew 20:1-16) all point us to the incredible grace of God; good news to the needy!