The Banqueting Table

The kingdom of heaven is like …

Mt 13:

In another installment, I referred to one of Jesus’ teaching methods. Today, I will use another one, the parable.

I heard a story lately about God that I would like to repeat here as a parable of the Kingdom of heaven.

The Kingdom of heaven is like a restaurant of a famous chef. He loves you and has a very special banqueting table ready for you every morning. Freshly cooked and served.

He knows you well, and the food he prepares is cooked just right for your taste buds. Every morning you go there and eat a bit.

The chef urges you to eat more, but you have reservations. Suddenly, some questions spring up within you:

Why is he doing this for me? What does he want from me? Is this a bait? Does he want to lure me into something?

The chef, without you saying anything, tells you that it is all free and just for you, no hooks attached.

You cannot keep those thoughts out of your head and you start even eating less, and at some point, you stop going to the restaurant.

But as it is, you start being hungry. But you resist. You are sure that something is wrong with all this.

But the hunger grows and you cannot take it any longer. You go back, and sure enough, the table again is packed with all that wonderful stuff you love so much.

You eat a bit, and you feel guilty because you can give nothing in return. So after you left, you look for anything in your live you could give in return for the food you ate.

There have been many things in your life that make you unworthy of this food. You try to get rid of this to feel less guilty and unworthy. You try to follow the rules of your culture, the laws of old. But it all does not quench the questions you have and the feeling of unworthiness within you.

Another round of hunger follows because you do not go back to the banqueting table. But again, hunger prevails.

This time, when the chef is urging you to eat, you finally ask: why are you dong this for me?

Because it brings me joy, the chef answers.

Finally, it dawns on you: you have been paying the chef all along. You brought him joy by accepting all that he has for you.

And now, you dig in. Your hunger even has you pig out. The chef does not seem to care, and when a plate is empty, he refills it. There is way too much to eat.

And after a while, you have another epiphany: why not bring my friends and other people to the table?

You do so, and they–playing the same game you played at first, but you are there to help them through–eat, and at times, feeding them becomes dangerous because they almost bite your hand when you refill a plate.

God does not want observances, adherence to rules, or anything of you to pay him for the splendor he has for you. He just enjoys giving. It is his nature.

Our nature is primarily to receive, but then to reflect. We all first receive just for ourselves, but coming to ourselves, we realize that we can reflect God’s giving, and do so, expecting nothing in return.

We first reflect towards God by freely accepting what he is giving us. And then, we realize that we can reflect God to others by inviting them to participate.

All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You without money, come, buy, and eat! Yes, come! Buy wine and milk without money—it’s free!

Isa 55:1

Let me add a personal note.

Thinking about the story, I came to myself and had two revelations.

First, I realized that for so long I had tried to pay back the chef. Not because I believed it was necessary, but because the ones that invited me to the table believed it and urged me into doing it.

And then, I realized that I was offering the food that the chef had prepared for me–especially brain food–and there was little demand for that.

In my case, some were hungry enough to come to the table, but then wanted the food to be pre-processed and blended, sugar-coated and made palatable to them.

These teachings had brought me two distinct advantages:

I saw that all this jumping through hoops was unnecessary, which left me much more graceful towards others.

And I know what it feels like for God when he is preparing all this wonderful food and nobody wants it.

I am going to eat, and I am going to serve others of the food God prepared for me, because it adds to the diet of many. And I am even going to eat from their table!

How about you?