Scene I “Nine hundred invited guests for a wedding and no RSVP? Why don't they want a response?”
Scene II “Thank you so much for inviting us to your wedding, but we cannot attend.” as we're thinking, “But you don't really know us as we are just customers. You make our chicken sandwiches at the restaurant!”
Scene III “You want us to invite ALL of OUR relatives to your daughter's wedding? Why would we do that? I don't think they'd attend.”
All of these and more are real-life scenarios that Lindy and I have encountered with Far/Middle Eastern people over the past years as we were invited to several weddings. It was perplexing to say the least. And yes, the one banquet facility was set up for nine hundred guests and it was almost completely full!
Recently, we've been reading an insightful book called Seeing Jesus from the East by Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray. In one chapter, Murray, who is Lebanese, unravels a parable of Jesus from Luke 14:15-24 about the wealthy man who prepared a grand banquet and invited many people to attend. As we know, several of those invited declined his invitation with lame excuses, and the servant was sent out twice to fill up the tables so that his house would be full.
There are various facets of this parable that we can address, but I'd like to focus on how the “party hearty” guy insisted on having the banquet completely filled.
In the book, Murray explains that in classic Middle Eastern hospitality the guest lists for large events are not limited like they usually are here in the West. (Children are included, and there's usually no seating arrangements!) The idea is to have as many people as possible come and share in the joy and bliss of the wedding festivities. In our experience, food, music, and dancing abound from the time you enter the banquet hall until the time you leave. There's no shortage of any of these things.
So, getting back to the three scenes at the beginning of this devotion, they all had to do with us being graciously invited to these weddings to celebrate a very joyous occasion in their families' lives. It did not matter how long we knew them because now we were a part of their lives and were special to them.
This reminds me of another wedding supper that will be taking place found in Revelation 19:6-9. In these verses, the Lamb (Jesus) will come for his bride, (all believers) and we are considered “blessed” for being invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb. This will far surpass any banquet that we attend here on earth!
We are the ones who are asked by Jesus to go to the “highways and byways” to share with people the Good News of the Gospel, and there's no limit to who can be invited for this glorious event. Who have you invited to share in this eternal wedding feast? Our Lord desires a full house!
“Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’” Revelation 19:9