Jesus’ ministry and message cleared up a few misconceptions about God. First, God loves throwing parties. Second, God’s parties are well planned. Third, God is the life of the party.
Jesus modelled the nature of God in his earthly ministry. He said, “God is Love” and then put flesh on his words by going into places where people celebrated community. Jesus loved parties – it’s where people let their hair down. He did his first miracle at a party. He accepted invitations to parties at sinner’s houses, and showed up. Jesus loved crowds. He felt his power heal someone on a crowded street. He stopped a funeral procession to reunite a mother and son. He broke bread and fed a crowd of thousands, twice. He raised a child from death in a home filled with mourners. If there wasn’t a party happening before Jesus showed up, there was one by the time he left.
Jesus never turned down an invitation to a party, but he purposely came late to funerals. Every party is different; you might miss something. But funerals are all the same, until Jesus shows up. When Jesus comes to your funeral, it turns into a party – You’ll hear his invitation. It sounds something like: “Lazarus, come forth!” or “Talitha, rise!” and is followed soon by “Where’s the food?” You can’t have a party without well-fed guests. Ever wonder what would have happened if Jesus didn’t say their name before waking them up? We will find out on Resurrection morning! That’s when all funerals turn into one massive party. Have you heard about the banquet table filled with food and the tree with enough desert-fruit hanging from its branches to feed the entire Kingdom?
If God ran a shop in the main street of your town, it would be called “Party Kingdom.” Jesus loved telling stories about his Father’s Kingdom. Some were really obvious, because he started them: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” A pearl, a treasure, yeast, a net, a mustard seed. But the stories that ended with parties – they are the greatest Kingdom stories. The Woman who lost and found a coin – Party! The shepherd who lost and found his sheep – Party! The man who lost and found a son – Party!
One of the Party Kingdom stories is about a King throwing a wedding feast for his Son. The entire list of invited guests sent their apologies. The kind of people who refuse to go to parties are the kind of people who wont like God much at all.* Since there is no party without a crowd, the King threw open the doors and invited anyone dawdling near the castle. The guest list isn’t important, the Son is. Once in, they were told to wear the wedding clothes provided by the King or the party's over. It seems the King’s primary concern is that the party plays right for his Son and lovely bride!
And that’s just a snapshot of Jesus’ picture of God. Go deeper into the stories Jesus told that end in parties and you’ll see a representation of God so different than the misguided one people often assumed of him. It’s an amazing picture of an amazing God who loves to celebrate with well-planned parties!
*Just ask the prodigal's brother!