So Jesus was at a banquet.
And in the midst of the eating (everyone makes eating noises) and the drinking (everyone makes glugging noises) and the conversation (everyone makes chatting noises), Jesus turned to the man who had invited him to the banquet and made what must have seemed like a surprising suggestion:
“The next time you host a banquet,” Jesus said, “don’t invite your relatives or rich friends. The chances are that they will repay you for your hospitality by inviting you to their next banquet in return.
“No. I think you should draw up a different kind of guest list.
“Invite the poor. Everyone cries: “We have no money!”
“Invite the lame. Everyone cries: “We cannot walk!”
“Invite the blind. Everyone cries: “We cannot see!”
“Those people can’t afford to throw fancy banquets, so they won’t be able to repay you. But you will be blessed and receive your reward when the righteous are resurrected!”
Another guest overheard what Jesus had said.
And in the midst of the eating (everyone makes eating noises) and the drinking (everyone makes glugging noises) and the conversation (everyone makes chatting noises), he said to Jesus: “Blessed is everyone who will eat in God’s kingdom!”
And in response to that, Jesus told a story. A story about a banquet:
There once was a man who threw a great banquet.
He invited his guests. And when all had been prepared, he sent out his servant to tell the guests that everything was ready.
“Terribly sorry,” said the first guest. “I’ve just bought a field and must go to see it. Everyone says a farmer-ish: “Ooh-aar!” Please send my apologies.”
“Oh dear,” said a second guest. “Oxen! Everyone moos. I’ve just bought five pairs of oxen and I need to take a closer look at them. Tell your master I’m sorry, but I simply cannot come.”
“A wife!” explained a third guest. “I’ve just married my wife. Everyone sings a wedding march tune.
I won’t be attending. Sorry.”
And so it was with all the other guests. One excuse followed another. And when the servant told his master what had happened, the master was furious.
“Go into the city,” he told his servant. “Search up and down the streets, and through every lane. Bring in the poor (everyone cries: “We have no money!”), the lame (everyone cries: “We cannot walk!”) and the blind (everyone cries: “We cannot see!”). Bring them all to my banquet!”
So that’s what the servant did.
“There is still room at your banquet,” he told his master. “Lots of room.”
“Then go out into the country,” the master told him. “Search up and down the highways and through every hedge, and bring more people to my banquet. Bring them in until every place is filled!”
And then the master added: “But I tell you this. None of those who were invited in the first place will taste even one tiny morsel from my table.”