This week, we’re continuing our message series on reaching out. In this series, we’re learning some tips on how we can be more effective at seeking and saving the lost just like Jesus did. Last week, we learned about how Jesus reached out to people where they were and how He did so in a relevant way.
This week, we’re learning about an unbelievable invitation that is available to everyone. Before we dive into this invitation that Jesus offers in the New Testament, we’re going back into the Old Testament to gain a glimpse of just how powerful this invitation truly is. This invitation is probably not lived out in a more powerful way than in the example of a man named Mephibosheth, who I’m calling “M” this morning.
It’s a long story that you essentially need to read through first and second Samuel to grasp that leads up to Mephibosheth. Essentially, God rejected Saul as King of His people and chose David as his replacement. Saul hated David and tried to kill him for quite some time, but David was best friends with Saul’s son, Jonathan. After Saul killed himself, war broke out between Saul’s household and David’s and, of course, David’s household grew stronger and stronger as the war raged. Eventually, however, that war ceased.
That’s where we are reminded of Mephibosheth. The only backstory that we really receive about Mephibosheth personally is this:
2 Samuel 4:4
(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth.)
2 Samuel 9
1 David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
2 Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”
“At your service,” he replied.
3 The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”
Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”
4 “Where is he?” the king asked.
Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”
5 So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.
6 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.
David said, “Mephibosheth!”
“At your service,” he replied.
7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”
8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”
9 Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)
11 Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.
12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. 13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.
Mephibosheth, whom David could have had killed, instead received an invitation from the king. When he received that invitation, we can only begin to imagine what must have gone through his mind. I’m convinced that he would have been full of fear expecting that his long and miserable life was about to come to an end. Mephibosheth viewed himself and valued himself as nothing more than a dead dog.
Instead of receiving what was due to him, King David instead freely gave him all of Saul’s land, Ziba’s entire household as servants, and a place at his table as if he was one of his own children. In case it isn’t recorded and repeated enough over and over in this chapter and every other place in the scriptures where his name is mentioned, Mephibosheth was lame in his feet from the accident he suffered when he was five years old.
Imagine, however, Mephibosheth being carried to the table of the king. He may have been lame and as valuable as a dead dog. However, when Mephibosheth sat at the table of the king, his shame and lameness was hidden away. At the table of the king, Mephibosheth was valued as a child of the king and there was no distinction between he and all the others at the table. His lameness was hidden away under the table of the king.
What a powerful transformation this had to be for Mephibosheth! A simple invitation from the king transformed this man from a poor dead dog to a rich member of royalty! Now this invitation of King David was more than just a kind gesture. This was a prophetic act that foreshadowed an even greater invitation that was yet to come that would transform countless poor, dead dogs into rich members of royalty! We now turn to the New Testament. I’m convinced that this event was at the forefront of Jesus’ mind when He shared this parable.
16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”
Now, theologically speaking, this parable is interpreted correctly as Jesus revealing that His salvation that was about to be rejected by the Jews would be made available to the Gentiles. However, I feel that there is another dimension to this parable that applies to the church today.
Jesus, King of Kings, has invited anyone and everyone to become His royal children and to sit at His table, inheriting His Kingdom. How many people who call themselves by the name of Jesus are simply too busy for Him? How many people make excuses to keep putting off Jesus?
Does Jesus continue to reach out to those who already know Him, to those who already received His invitation? Not by any means, they enrage Him! Instead, Jesus says, “Go out the roads and the country lanes and compel them to come in so that My house will be full.” Instead, Jesus says to invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. Furthermore, He says that not one of those who were invited, but had every excuse to blow Him off would taste of His banquet. We read again about that great wedding banquet in Revelation 19.
Church, if we’re too busy to serve Jesus, then we’re simply too busy. If anything is more important than gathering together to worship the One who gave His all and to reach out to seek and save the lost around us, then we’ve forgotten who Jesus is and who we are in Him.
We’re the poor, dead dogs who accepted the invitation of King Jesus. We’re the ones who have been transformed by His loving-kindness into royal children whose lameness and shame has been covered. We’re the ones invited to sit at His table. Want to know the best part? Just like the servant said in Jesus’ parable, “there is still room!”
There is still room at the table of King Jesus and He likes to party. There ain’t no party like a Jesus party because a Jesus party won’t stop! He now calls us to go out to the roads and country lanes and compel all people to come in that His house will be full. He calls us to reach out and extend His invitation to the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. He calls us to carry them into His presence that their lameness and shame might be covered and that they might be transformed as they are seated at His table.