‘So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Just imagine: You plan a wedding, receive RSVPs from 150 guests, and then on the day of, no one shows. So you go out into the streets and invite 150 randos. Totally not weird, right?
Jesus tells this parable that the kingdom of heaven is like a wedding banquet. The king prepares the wedding banquet for his son and sends his servants out to tell the invited guests that it’s ready. But they ignore the invitation, and some even abuse and kill the servants. So the king drastically expands his guest list, inviting people right off the streets.
When I read this passage a few days ago, one particular phrase stood out to me: “Invite to the banquet anyone you find” (v. 9). I asked myself: Am I willing to be found?
Hiding from God isn’t new, even though it’s entirely futile. The first two people tried—and failed—to hide from Him in the Garden. In John 3, Jesus speaks about our tendency to cover up our ugly:
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
When we do wrong and fall short, our first instinct is to run from our only remedy. We try to bury our sin in the depths of our hearts, where it grows roots and breeds shame. We hide. Then, when the King comes around to invite us into all He has to offer, we don’t want to be found. We’re embarrassed by our shortcomings. We wonder why He would want failures like us at His table. We fear being fully seen, because what if our perfect God rejects us, these imperfect sinners? The thought of Him knowing everything about us, inside and out, drives us into panic.
What we don’t understand is this: He’s not inviting us to His banquet so He can laugh at us, reject and ridicule us, turn us out when He sees our mess. He’s inviting us into the solution for all our problems. He’s inviting us to receive the grace we so desperately need. He’s inviting us into the relationship with Himself that we were meant for all along. He’s inviting us to know Him and be fully known by Him, in the intimacy we were created for. And He’s inviting everyone—but will we let Him find us so He can place the invitation into our shaking hands?
Are we willing to be found by our Father? I mean fully found: fully seen, fully known, and the best part—fully loved. Will we let the darkest parts of our hearts into His marvelous light? Will we stop hiding even the sin that floors us with shame, and step into the loving arms of our Father who can take all that pain away?
When we’re in hiding, it’s like a little kid who closes their eyes and thinks they can’t be seen. He sees us anyway. He’s God. So let’s quit pretending like we’ve got it all together without Him. He’s aware of the mess we’re in. We don’t have to hide; He already knows everything about us, everything we’ve done, all our fears and failures—and He still loves us. He still desires us. He still offers His mercy and extends His grace to us. He still wants us at the banquet, to feast on Jesus, the Bread of Life. He pursues us when we run, in a grace-filled chase scene. Even though we’ve made ourselves ugly and broken in sin, God desperately wants us with Him; may we be fully found by Him, so that we can receive His invitation and shout a thundering, exuberant yes in response. Then, the miraculous cleaning and healing begin.
(BSTUD is a blog series studying the Christian holy scriptures. BSTUD = B(ible) STUD(y). You can read more BSTUD posts here.)