June 14, 2017 • Life for Leaders
On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine — the best of meats and the finest of wines.
Often schools and churches sponsor international banquets, festive meals in which people bring foods representing diverse cultures. At such a feast you might find yourself eating tortillas and beans along with spaghetti, dim sum, and hot dogs. Quite a combination!
In Isaiah 25 we catch a glimpse of the ultimate international banquet, the most lavish feast of all. It’s a meal prepared by the Lord himself for peoples from all nations. The food will be exquisite, plentiful, and delicious. The celebration will be unsullied by gloom and tears, not to mention national or ethnic conflicts. All peoples will gather to share together in the Lord’s banquet.
Jesus picked up this vision of a great banquet for all people as he revealed the future of the kingdom of God (see, for example, Matt 8:11). In fact, this image underlies Jesus’s statement at the Last Supper: “I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt 26:29). Thus, when we celebrate communion, we not only look back to the saving death of Jesus, but also we look ahead with hope to the great messianic banquet yet to come. Someday we, along with people from all nations, will sit at table with Jesus, enjoying rich food and drink in the peace of his kingdom.
What difference does this make for us today, apart from giving us hope? I believe it encourages us to find ways to begin, even now, to enjoy the banquet of the future. We do this as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. We do this as we reach out to those whose appearance or life experience is not like ours, sharing a meal with them and getting to know them. We do this as we live beyond our comfort zone, building relationships with people from diverse places and perspectives. In these and many other ways, we enjoy a foretaste of the messianic banquet of the future.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Can you think of meals you have experienced that remind you of the vision of Isaiah 25?
What difference does it make today that we will one day enjoy the messianic banquet of the kingdom?
If we embrace the hope of the ultimate international banquet, how might this impact our actions as individuals? As churches? As citizens?
Gracious God, what a joy it will be to finally sit at your table, enjoying your lavish food and drink, sharing in fellowship with people from all nations. How we will celebrate your goodness together!
Today, that reality seems far, far away, as nations are divided against each other, even as Christians so often can’t get along. May the vision of the messianic banquet give us hope, Lord. Moreover, may it motivate us to reach out to those around us and draw them in, especially to those who aren’t just like us ethnically, racially, socio-economically, politically, or theologically. In light of your great banquet yet to come, may we extend hospitality to all. May our churches look less and less like exclusive clubs, and more and more like the feast of the future! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: The Body of Christ (Matthew 26)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.