Who did the people in the crowd who ate the loaves and fishes think Jesus was? Did the woman with the 12 years of bleeding know all the doctrine and teaching about Jesus before she sought him out? Did the disciples – the chosen ones – really ever have much clue what the Messiah was all about, after journeying with him every day for three and a half years? And yet did he manage to accept them, and love them, journey with them, heal and feed them, despite their ignorance in the face of all the evidence, and their frequent squabbles and mistakes? It seems that, yes, he did!!
I only ask because sometimes some people object to other people being allowed to draw near, to come and taste and see, to want their children to be welcomed and blessed. As if perhaps there is a hierarchy of deserving people who only may be admitted to a very small and exclusive club.
It could possibly be perceived that the new people may not be schooled in enough theology / tradition / Bible knowledge to be able to answer the questions of faith with as thorough an understanding as those who have been around the church for a long time, perhaps for generations. They may not know what some of the complex words mean, or what the club members may expect of them in terms of behaviour / payment / attendance in future / their relationships / appearance etc etc etc. They may not meet someone else’s standards of what is required to come to Christ. As has been said to us before, as a new form of church: “You are making it too easy for people.”
It makes me wonder – just how hard is it supposed to be…?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. ” Isaiah 55
“On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and called out in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” John 7
“Now people were even bringing their babies to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them. And when the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to Him and said,“Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, if anyone does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child, he will never enter it.”… Luke 18
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3
The truth is that God is reconciling all things to himself all of the time. He is constantly inviting, drawing, calling and leading people to his son. And people are responding, all the time. They know Jesus when they find him, and understand that they are being given a free invitation to be welcomed, loved and blessed. A table to sit at and a family to be with. This is not something they have to earn or work for, or something they have to deserve in any way – by the morality of their background, knowledge of theology, family name or contents of their bank account. THANK GOD!! This is the only way I am able to be here – because other people who knew me and saw I was lost, saw I needed this desperately, and showed me the way. And it is now my job, my calling and my life’s joyful work to do the same for others.
Jesus already did the heavy lifting on this one, so we don’t have to. The cost of the invitation has already been paid, on the cross. He tells us that it is the Father who draws everyone who comes to him (john 6). It is a gift, not an extension of privilege, not a gold card to someone whose family clocked up a lot of points, not a reward for reading lots of dull books. A gift, offered to everyone for all time. End of.
I imagine if you were someone nice and tidy and deserving then you might not want some oik like me rocking up at your neat family table, with my baggage, my northern brashness, my strange friends, but that is the actual deal. You can’t accept your invitation unless you accept the right of the host to seat you next to whoever else he chooses – there simply is no VIP seating at this banquet! And if you want it, you really can just come and get it.