“Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.” (Luke 14:23-24)
Our Lord is determined to throw a party — a party that will last forever. He paid for the whole thing: the food and the wine, the music, the games, etc. There will be no entrance fee. Jesus’ blood covered the entire cost!
The Lord sends out heralds with an invitation: “Come, for everything is now ready!” Indeed, every Sunday, the appetizers are set out for the guests. The Body and Blood of Christ are laid out on the table, a foretaste of the Feast that can begin at any moment. Every Sunday the party favors are distributed: the forgiveness of sins, the presence of the Spirit, joy, peace, and life in abundance!
Some people will be party-poopers. They will offer all kinds of excuses to not come to the Divine Service. They are not even good excuses, but when you don’t want to do something, any excuse will do. The Lord won’t force those people to come. A guest who doesn’t want to be there would ruin the party for everyone else.
Still, the party will go on. The Lord says to His heralds, “Go invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. Bring in the outcasts, the shunned, and the unpopular. My house must be filled!” Those are precisely the people who receive the invitation with joy. A lifetime of failures, disappointments, and rejections has shattered their pride. Nobody deserves the Lord’s invitation, but these people know how undeserving they are.
Don’t be surprised when you come to church and find a bunch of broken sinners there. That’s who the Lord invites to His party. If you are a poor, broken sinner, then you are welcome there, too!
O Lord, since You never fail to help and govern those whom You nurture in Your steadfast fear and love, work in us a perpetual fear and love of Your holy name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.