And the Scene Changes
A favorite movie clip is Scene 12 from Gladiators – perhaps you know it. Up to this point, the movie has shown the conflict meted out by Rome against people they conquered – destruction of their homes, killing their families, enslaving men for petty purpose, in this case to be gladiators simply for entertainment. These were familiar scenes in the Roman Empire: the mighty subjugating the conquered who had no choice but to submit. In Scene 12, however, a gladiator confronts his oppressor and lays out a new scenario. With cold determination, he unshields his face, stares down his persecutor and proclaims, “I will have my vengeance on you -- in this world or the next!” That scene changed everything that followed. (Whoa, it still gives me chills!)
A Sabbath evening feast in the home of a Pharisee also was a familiar scene to the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem of his day. To the Jewish gentry gathered to meet with Jesus in Luke 14, the banquet was expected, their earned right as the cream of the Jewish crop (so to speak). Such events foreshadowed a great event they still expected to come, the Banquet of the Messiah in God’s Kingdom. The Jews longed for this event – it would be joy, fun, a party, the confirmation of Messiah established on his throne.
The Jews at this evening feast with Jesus were so sure of their honored place on that future day they could not help but express their enthusiasm, “Blessed is everyone (US!) who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” one exclaimed.
But Jesus said some things in that encounter that changed everything that followed. In a series of parables, he laid out a new scenario. And what those leaders learned that night was that the kingdom of God would not be quite what they expected. So, what did Jesus say that changed the scene and everything that follows.
He said God’s kingdom will come at its own pace. No one will know when the kingdom will come, we are told, but we have a foretaste of that kingdom as we see God’s actions among us already in this life.
He said preparing for God’s kingdom takes priority over everything else. Being always ready may not be convenient, but Jesus said it’s worth it. And it doesn’t have to be earned; it’s freely given.
He said the invitation to God’s kingdom is for all. Did you hear me say ALL? It’s not just for the holy, or the rich, or the important, or people like yourself. It’s for the lowly as well as the mighty, for the outcast as well as the revered. It’s for every nation, people and language.
He said God wants his kingdom filled, so he never stops inviting―or involving us in extending that invitation. This mission will keep on going until his house is filled.
So, what does this mean for you, for me, for Trinity Galewood as we seek to look, live, and love more like Jesus?
I can promise you it won’t go at your pace. It will mess with your priorities. It will bring you together with others who might challenge your sense of comfort. It will be … Oh. So. Worth it. Come!