Bible insights from your friends at La Jolla Lutheran Church


Everyone is welcome at God's party

Jesus said the kingdom of God was like a wonderful party that some people skipped because they were too busy.

These people had accepted the initial invitation and had been put on the guest list, but when the time came, they each had something else they wanted to do.

But the party was ready! The food was prepared, the wine was poured. The party wasn't cancelled just because a few guests changed their minds.

Jesus said the host of the party worked hard to make sure everybody who was available came to the party, including the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.

This week we'll look at verses related to this theme of God's party (and the missing guests). The verses below will help you think about the topic all week.

Monday Revelation 19:5-9 (NRSV)
From the throne came a voice saying, "Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great." Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready; to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure"— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are true words of God."

John recorded a vision where he saw the arrival of the kingdom of God. The kingdom’s arrival was described as the marriage of Jesus (the Lamb) with faithful Christians (the bride). In John’s vision, the bride is clothed in “the righteous deeds of the saints.”

What do you think are some examples of righteous deeds of the saints?

John says the occasion is a time to praise God, whether one is small or great. It’s not bad to start early. What do you have to praise God about?

Tuesday Luke 14:15-24 (NRSV)
One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to [Jesus], "Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" Jesus said to him, "Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room." Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.” For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’"

Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a great dinner. When everything was ready, however, the invited guests were too busy to come. The food was hot, the wine was poured. What would you do? The invitation went out to anyone who could be found, including the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. After that, there was still room, and the party was ready to start. The word went out with increased urgency: Go out and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.

What do you get busy with that might cause you to neglect an invitation to be part of God’s kingdom?

What do you think heaven will look like, filled with poor and broken people who had nothing better to do?

Wednesday 1 Samuel 22:1-2 (NRSV)
David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; when his brothers and all his father’s house heard of it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred.

Saul was Israel’s first king. Unfortunately he lacked confidence in himself and in God, and the kingdom suffered for it during his long reign. While Saul was king, David was anointed his successor. Because he was jealous, Saul repeatedly tried to kill David. Saul had the army of Israel at his disposal in this quest. David had a faithful band of warriors who surrounded him, about 400 men. Everyone who gathered around David was in distress or in debt or was discontented.

What do you think it was like for David, leading such an band of warriors?

Thursday John 3:16-17 (NRSV)
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

If you haven’t memorized these verses, you might read them out loud several times today and commit them to memory.

Friday Matthew 1:1-6 (NRSV)
An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,

Matthew outlines the human family that Jesus became part of, giving the lineage of Jesus’ adopted step-father Joseph. We don’t have space to review the whole list but we’re looking at the first few ancestors recorded in Jesus’ family.

Abraham was so afraid of people of power he pretended his beautiful wife was his sister so he wouldn’t be killed, and he let his wife be taken into a king’s harem. This happened not once, but twice. Isaac, known as “the deceiver,” stole the birthright from his brother and spent years wrestling over possessions with Laban, his just-as-crafty father-in-law. Judah fathered the Perez and Zerah through his dead son’s wife. Rahab was a prostitute and Ruth was a foreigner. Solomon was born because his father King David had an affair with a warrior’s wife, then killed the warrior to cover it up and married the widow.

No matter how good or bad you and your family are like, you fit right in to Jesus’ adopted family.

What is your family tree like?

Given Jesus’ family and this week’s readings, what kind of people do you think will be in heaven?

Saturday

A random question just for fun: What is one of your favorite holiday memories?

Two more serious questions:
What are you doing this week because you’re a Christian?
What would you like help with?