Dinner with Sinners

When will we realize that we cannot earn our way into heaven? When will we accept that Jesus doesn’t want us to be good enough, He wants us to have a relationship with Him?

John 14:1-3

14 “ Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

When I read this part of what Jesus is saying, I cannot help but think back to a parable He once told:

Matthew 22:1-10
22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 2 “ The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. 4 Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. 7 But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. 8 Then he *said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

In John, Jesus is speaking of preparing this feast for those who believe. I think back to something a friend of mine related to me once, “If everyone stopped worrying about trying to get into heaven, maybe this world would be a better place.” How true. We spend so much time trying to earn grace that we miss the point all together. We spend so much time getting ready for the feast that it distracts us. We kill the messengers coming to tell us about the feast because they bothered us. They interrupted our preparation, so we beat them, without even pausing to listen to what they have to say.

Jesus tells us “do not let your heart be troubled.” What doesn’t He want us to be troubled with? Getting to the dinner party. If we believe in God and also in Him, then we have a place set at the table. We have a mansion (the literal translation of the word used for ‘dwelling place’ in verse 2) awaiting us, so why are we so consumed with still trying to earn a seat at the table? It is taken care of!

Jesus has our seat reserved. We needn’t worry about being good enough, wearing the right tie, or even rehearsing what we will talk about. What He wants us to be doing is inviting others to come to the dinner party with us! In verse 9 of the Mathew passage we see this. Notice they found “both evil and good,” it isn’t about how good of a person you are, Jesus just wants your audience. He wants your attention, your heart. Believe in God and also in Him.

Imagine the scene at this eloquent dinner party where the guests are in rags, tattoos, piercings, some carrying their clothes in a trash bag, others without shoes, one guy is a tax collector, another is a Pharisee…that is us, my friends. When will we get it that it isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being in relationship with Him?

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