Jesus went back again to the shore of Lake Galilee. A crowd came to him, and he started teaching them. 14 As he walked along, he saw a tax collector, Levi son of Alphaeus, sitting in his office. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Levi got up and followed him.
15 Later on Jesus was having a meal in Levi’s house. A large number of tax collectors and other outcasts was following Jesus, and many of them joined him and his disciples at the table. 16 Some teachers of the Law, who were Pharisees, saw that Jesus was eating with these outcasts and tax collectors, so they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such people?”
17 Jesus heard them and answered, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.”
18 On one occasion the followers of John the Baptist and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came to Jesus and asked him, “Why is it that the disciples of John the Baptist and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but yours do not?”
19 Jesus answered, “Do you expect the guests at a wedding party to go without food? Of course not! As long as the bridegroom is with them, they will not do that. 20 But the day will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
21 “No one uses a piece of new cloth to patch up an old coat, because the new patch will shrink and tear off some of the old cloth, making an even bigger hole. 22 Nor does anyone pour new wine into used wineskins, because the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins will be ruined. Instead, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.” – Mark 2:13-22
Our parties are pretty tame by modern standards. I’ve seen soirées and even helped cater parties the likes of which I cannot imagine paying for. My colleague’s wife worked for a place where the liquor bill for a gala wedding reception was $75,000 alone. Dom Perignon for everyone? As I said, “I can’t imagine.”
So what will the heavenly celebration look like? The Old Testament offers a picture:
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the LORD; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Jesus gives us a further clue in this encounter with Matthew and his friends. The clue is the guest list. And the key is the host. The guest list of the Great Last Day Eternal Party is filled with sinners. Others need not RSVP. If you don’t need forgiveness, mercy, hope, and grace you won’t want to come. In fact if you’re uncomfortable with being in the presence of down-and-outers, you might want to adjust your comfort zone. And if you think everyone will be like you, you’re just plain wrong.
Except for one thing: we’ll all be delighted at being with Jesus. We’ll all be astonished at his grace. We’ll have a hard time comprehending just how good, gracious, abundantly generous and delightfully enjoyable his presence can be. That’s the lot of those who are invited to the party that will be hosted in Jesus’ honor at the end of time.
We’re enjoying some mighty luxurious digs this week. Our granddaughter was totally blown away by it. Balcony. Swimming pool. Beach. All very nice. And all reserved for the owners and their guests (by virtue of renting the condo we are allowed as guests). And we’ve had a couple little parties ourselves. But they’ll hold nothing to the Jesus party to which repentant sinners and former outcasts are all invited.
When Jesus was with his disciples on earth the religious leaders thought his disciples should act with more decorum. Jesus told them it was time to celebrate for the bridegroom was present. On that Day, the groom will summon the bride and we’ll enjoy a celebration the likes of which has never been seen before. $75,000 liquor bill? That’s nothing. Our party has been paid for by the blood of the Lamb of God and he’s been working on the preparations for 2000 years! It’s gonna be some party!