Readings for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 66:18-23; Hebrews 12:4-24; Luke 13:22-30

Invitations get extended all the time – to weddings, birthday parties and many other special events. But who get’s invited? That’s often determined on the basis of factors like 1) who’s related to us, 2) who’s fun and/or popular, or 3) who’s done something to earn a spot on the guest list. In Sunday’s readings, God wants us to know that His way of extending invitations doesn’t follow conventional human thinking.

The LORD warned of a day when all the “insiders” of Judah -those who claimed to be holding a golden ticket to the heavenly banquet even while they dishonored its host -would be held accountable for their sins. But in the same breath, the LORD issued an open invitation to people from all the surrounding nations. Many would behold God’s glory – revealed in Jesus Christ – and be lead to saving faith (Is 66).

When asked a question about the number of those who would be saved, Jesus issues a warning. Many claiming an “insider” status with God by virtue of their proximity to Christ’s work (I was a member of the synagogue where you preached!) or their social connections to him (My parents followed you!) will be turned away from the heavenly banquet. Yet other people with no such claims – but a sincere faith in Christ – will be warmly welcomed in (Lk 13).

The epistle lesson explains how God allows hardships in our life as a form of fatherly discipline. Such discipline is intended to increase our trust in Him, make us a holy people, and prepare us for eternal blessings. The closing verses are a beautiful welcome into God’s unshakeable kingdom of grace, which has been founded on the crucified and risen Jesus (Heb 12).