“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son.” (Matthew 22:2)
As we entered into 2022, like many of you, my heart was automatically drawn to Isaiah 22:22 and the key of David. We use this key through intimacy to unlock the “house” the Father is building. It’s not about a church, it’s about THE Church, and as many of us know, she may look different than some would expect. She has been and is going through a transformation to be the pure, chosen, set apart Bride the Lord is wooing to His side for such a time as this.
But it was not Isaiah 22:22 that most gave me pause as we entered into 2022. Rather, I heard the Lord beckoning us to Matthew 22 and the parable of the wedding feast for this accelerated moment we are in.
The Lord is building and doing something new in this season. The new wine is fun! But we can’t desire His new wine without also surrendering to His new wineskin. That’s hard. The new wineskin is, well, new, but it is necessary. The new wine will be served at this wedding feast, but who will be in the seats? Who will take the invitation and come together for a great family wedding feast outside of their normal comfort zones and structures?
At the wedding feast, the parabolic king sent out his invitations to all the likely characters. He could probably imagine who was in each and every seat, but his imagination would fail him compared to what God had imagined: the unlikely, new vessels God knew would be hungry and thirsty enough to come, dine, and drink the new wine for the great wedding of His Son.
Those the king had imagined, the usual suspects, failed to come. They were too busy, or too consumed, to be desperate, “…and they were not willing to come” (Matthew 22:3).
“Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner…and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”‘” (Matthew 22:4) (Photo via Pxhere)
All things were ready, but they did not come.
Perhaps this time the seats and the banquet hall would be filled by the unexpected. Who, then, would be at this amazing family feast?
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So the servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.” (Matthew 22:8-10)
Now, the invitation is for those coming from the highways and the byways. They’re the “good and the bad.” Some may seem like those you might expect, while others may seem like the complete opposite. Some may be spiritually mature and seasoned, knowingly close to the King. Others may appear to be those who have just come out of darkness (because they have) having never known the Father until this moment of invitation. Some are already closely knit in the family, and others are those who have been secretly, inwardly, longing to belong to a true family.
What do these contrasting people and groups have in common? They’re hungry!
Jesus always found the unlikely, broken, stigmatized, hungry ones, and said, “I see you. You are Mine.” Jesus found the ‘rough-around-the-edges’ fishermen, and said, “I’ll make you fishers of men.” Jesus found a tax collector in a tree (Zacchaeus) and even a Pharisee (Nicodemus). He saw beyond their external qualifications, or lack thereof, and found what they all had in common—they were hungry!
At the most strategic time in Jesus’ life and ministry, He found hunger in the lowly and the unlikely and brought them to the table of His heart. It was the ones from the highways and byways of society whom He empowered to lead the harvest which was soon to be upon them.
“A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” (Proverbs 27:7)
So who should we be sending and carrying this great invitation to for the strategic time that is upon us? Who should be filling the seats at this great family feast? Go and find the hungry ones. They are on the highways and the byways, rough exterior and all. They may possibly be even pushing you away at first, but inwardly they are hungry and awaiting such an invitation—not just to be saved into the family of God, but for a special seat at His table and for their special purpose for this time. They may be the ones to help lead the harvest so many of us are praying for.
The Beatitudes are a perfect outline to help remind us of such an invitation, and of those the King is requiring us to find at this time. Look at these first four guideposts Jesus road-mapped for us:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:3-6)
Discover the Gold
So, will you join us in being (or taking) an invitation to the highways and the margins this year? Before we go, let’s renew our minds and recalibrate our perspectives as to whom is invited. We must not assume, lest we miss the ones that Jesus sees as ripe and ready.
The hungry ones are out there, and they’re waiting to be seen and invited into more than just salvation, as they themselves are part of the harvest of harvesters for which our world now waits. (Photo via Piqsels)
When you go to the margins to invite those who are so inwardly hungry for the new thing God is doing, don’t just minister to them, but like Jesus, empower them. Discover the gold in them; help them see that gold, and help them spend it with purpose on the world. Give them vision for who God already sees them as.
Look at the depths from which the apostles came, and look how Jesus gave them vision of their purpose for the time. In Ezekiel 37 we finish with an exceedingly great army, which came from a field of scattered, dry bones. This is the army, the family, who will fill this banqueting hall. The King says, “It’s ready!”
Dear Hungry Ones
May we live out the words of the following invitation together:
Dear Hungry Ones,
You’re who King Jesus has been looking for. You’ve been on the highways and the byways, and perhaps, in your hunger, you’ve veered off the Way; but now is the time for you to return and be who God has always created and seen you to be!
No matter what you have done; no matter where you have been or what you have believed, God has had His eye on you, waiting for this moment. And it’s not just that He wants to save you from the ‘dark’ or ‘difficult’ either; rather, God wants to bring to life the purpose in your life that perhaps you could never find but has always been in you. You went searching for some kind of fulfillment, and all this time God has been searching for the seed hidden deep inside you. You will reach people that we will not reach. You carry something from God’s heart that we do not have. Someone, somewhere, in the world is waiting for what and Who is inside of you.
God is calling you by name in this very moment, this moment that Heaven itself has waited to witness. This is your moment of purpose within God’s purpose, and He’s waiting for you to come and take your place at the table. Then, the family feast will begin!
“For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). The chosen are those who choose to step into their place in the Father’s story for such a time as this.
Joey and Destiny LeTourneau have seven children, two of whom are married, and their first grandchild on the way. They are visionaries and pioneers who have lived and traveled all over the world helping transform communities, cultures and nations by empowering people into greater levels of freedom, identity, vision and purpose. They’ve authored nine books, developed resources, curriculum and more.