Luke 13:29 (NIV)
29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.
(n.) a rich or abundant meal; a periodical celebration or time of celebration;
(v.) eat sumptuously; to dwell with gratification or delight, as on a picture or view.
Y’all. Tis the season for feasting. Thanksgiving is next week, and feasting will happen. However, in our current day and culture, feasting has lost most of it’s meaning. It has been reduced to eating a large amount of food (which I’m not complaining about).
The more I learn about God, the more I like Him. He is ALL ABOUT FEASTING. God mentions it over and over and over in the Bible. He even commands the children of Israel to hold seven feasts a year, every year as part of their service to Him. Some of them lasted an entire week. A FULL WEEK OF FEASTING. (!) (I can almost picture Jesus and the Holy Spirit saying, "Father - should we slow our roll here? This is a lot of partying! I'm not sure they can handle it.")
I think God knew that we would face obstacles to feasting. For some reason, we humans resist it. And yet feasting fixes so much. It has the power to mark us, to heal, to restore, to refresh… if we enter the feast fully.
True feasting is meant to be an encounter of the Father’s love and goodness. It is a picture of His heart toward us.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, when the younger son comes home, the Father throws a lavish, excessive party:
23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
That word “to celebrate” in Greek is euphrainō, which means to make merry.
This was no small party. They called in DJs and had music blaring - even the elder brother could hear it way out in the field. Everyone there got out on the dance floor. There was rich, sumptuous food and drink, and joy showed up TO THE FULL.
There’s no holding back at a True Feast. There’s no “I’m trying to lose weight,” or “I haven’t danced in years” or “I’m feeling kinda tired.” This is a whole-hearted event. People who enter fully into the feast know how to MAKE MERRY.
The Love of the Father is a whole-hearted event. He doesn’t hold back. He doesn’t linger on the fringes. He is ALL IN - with joy to the full.
Over and over in the Gospels, Jesus alludes to feasts. He tells multiple parables about wedding feasts and celebration feasts and says that’s what the kingdom of heaven is truly like.
In fact, in Revelation 19, John describes part of heaven as a huge marriage supper for the Lamb (Jesus). We are His bride, and he longs to fully become one with us. There will be full unity in Heaven, and we are gonna have a PARTY.
It's shocking how much God likes parties.
While most of us think of a feast as something positive and look forward to a grand meal with friends and family, unfortunately for many of us, feasting has gathered quite a bit of baggage over the years - making it difficult to fully enter into and enjoy.
Some of the obstacles:
Waiting for an invitation. Some of us don’t enter into the feast because we wait to feel like we have been invited and belong. We linger outside, even in our attitudes and heart postures. YOU ARE PART OF THE FAMILY. GIT IN HERE! I struggle with this a bit. I want to know that I’m truly wanted. But my deep desire is to be the thrower of parties. My goal is to start the dance party and invite others into the feast.
The “works” mindset. Shouldn’t I be working somewhere? If I pause and enjoy this time of food and fellowship, someone will come in and scold me - “Why aren’t you working? You have earning to do! There’s no time to enjoy!” This lie is a hard one for many of us. Shutting off the work phones and emails and fully engaging with a time of feasting takes some intentionality. It’s time to make merry!
Food obstacles. Our culture has become obsessed with food control and choices, and I am not immune. I just recently realized that I have used food as a source of earning my own righteousness. It is good and holy to take care of our bodies and pursue health, but when food control takes the place of Jesus as our righteousness, we have a problem.
Feasting throws a wrench in this (THANK GOD). Come on pumpkin pie! Food is designed to bring joy and gladness. This use of food as righteousness and control is not God’s design, and steals the joy of the feast. The Holy Spirit is helping me to rewire my thinking about righteousness. It’s all Jesus!
People are messy. Feasts involve people - usually family and close friends. And that sometimes involves drama, political arguments, old hurts, new annoyances, and a whole lot of navigating through personalities different from our own. Sometimes it takes work. But a True Feast is never a one person event. It is a picture of family coming together. Let’s put our love on and decide to make merry. This story, Babette’s Feast is a great example of how one True Feast can change everything.
Being subdued seems more appropriate. Letting loose in joy brings freedom. Dancing around the kitchen during Thanksgiving can break down some old walls and make room for something new and fresh. Play some games and invite laughter. Being proper may be more comfortable, but shake things up a bit this holiday season and turn up some tunes, grab the kids, and enter into joy!
While our own holidays aren’t the perfect picture of a heavenly feast, we can purpose in our hearts to overcome some of these obstacles and fully enter into this season. God has prepared something wonderful for you. Say yes to it. Make merry and receive the Father’s joy over you - or as Jesus says in Matthew, “enter into the joy of the Lord.”