Every Chair Filled

Twenty years ago, my husband and I planned our wedding. After three years of dating, we had six months to pull together a wedding and banquet, not only for our families but also for the people in the church we served. It was a whirlwind of decisions about what would honor God and tell our story while honoring all those who had invested so much in us.

We had a sacred wedding ceremony and a joyous party after. A gaggle of children circled around us as we danced together. The stress of planning was so worth it! Yet, out of all the invited guests, one didn’t show up. There was no explanation or notice, just an empty chair. What could have possibly been better than our wedding?

The story of the great banquet we read about in Luke 14:12-24 is a rather uncomfortable scene. Jesus, sitting with self-important religious leaders, has just finished correcting them for choosing the best seat for themselves and for only associating with people who offer them reciprocation and social mobility. Then Jesus tells this story to religious leaders—I wonder if we can relate.

The master has prepared a banquet, but not everyone invited comes. First to be invited are the “important” people. Maintaining their many possessions and managing their highly demanding jobs and family responsibilities are their priorities. Those invited talk about life in terms of schedule and exhaustion. These people forfeit their invitation.

Second to be invited are those who are outcasts—the poor, the lame, and the blind. Some of them attend, but for the others, maybe life was too hard, or they didn’t feel worthy to attend.

Next to be invited are those who aren’t notably poor or influential but just needed to be persuaded to come.

The last character is often overlooked—the servant. He oversees the inviting, bringing in, and compelling people to attend the banquet.

From the time of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, God has been planning His wedding feast—thousands of years, millions of moving pieces working toward a banquet where everyone is invited but not everyone will attend. We must use caution to avoid being like any of the invited who find excuses to bail out. Instead, let’s be more like the servant, an intimate of the master who invites, brings, and compels others to attend the wedding feast—the great heavenly banquet.

There are enough seats for everyone, and the Master will have every seat filled. Our Great Commission charge is to make sure everyone that wants to come can!

After all, what could possibly be better than the wedding feast of Jesus?