ADVENT DEVOTIONAL FOR 2017
REIGNING WITH CHRIST
When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’
“’Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” Luke 14:15-24
God sent Moses with commands. God sent Jesus with invitations. “Come, follow me” sounds to me more like “you get to follow me” than “you have to follow me.” Have those invitations been prepared from before the foundation of the world? Absolutely! Are those invitations both gracious and yet insistent, forceful—irresistible, even? Yes, of course, for they come from an insistent, forceful, irresistible grace in the service of the immeasurable Love at the center of the universe.
And yet they are invitations. A King gives commands to his subjects, but this King is not seeking subjects but obedient children. If these children, though adopted, are to sit with the King and the King’s son (only children are allowed to sit in the King’s presence), they must sit freely. They cannot be commanded to sit with the King; they must choose to sit with the King, willingly obedient to the King’s will. The very act of adoption, even though the Natural Son has given His life to make it possible, cannot be issued as a command. Instead, it comes as an invitation freely (though insistently and irresistibly) offered and freely (though humbly and tearfully) received.
PRAYER: Dear God, you long to not be my judge but my Father—indeed, the Father of all of those you have created. The problem is that if you are to be my Father, I must accept your invitation to make all other relationships secondary, whether relationships to property or even to my wife. I accept that invitation, and I pray that You would indeed take your rightful place as my life’s nearest and dearest love. When you say “Come!” I would indeed follow. In Jesus’s name. Amen.