“Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house may be full” (Luke 14:23).

There is good news and bad news in this story.

Let’s start with the bad news. Some people don’t want to come to the big party. They were on the list, they received an invitation, but they turned it down. One fellow had a field that needed tending, so he begged off. That’s understandable. If you have a field, you’ve got to watch it all the time. Farming is a nonstop business. So it makes sense that tending a field would come first.

There was a second man, a farmer also, who had just purchased 5 oxen. That was no small investment in the first century. Someone had to see if they could stay in the harness and pull the plow.

Finally, there was a third man who had just gotten married. Probably he and his bride had already been through a round of parties, and they wanted some time alone. Who could blame them?

What’s the problem? These are all legitimate excuses, aren’t they? Yes, but no excuse matters when the Lord does the inviting.

No wonder the host was indignant. I would be angry too if my invited guests stiffed me like that.

But there is good news here. The host ordered his servants to find the lame, the crippled, and the infirm. After that was done, there was still room at the master’s table.

Every seat must be filled!

The host sent his servants into the highways and byways to find anyone who would come to the great feast. This story cuts both ways. Those who refused to come will be left out, but anyone who wants to be there can find a seat.

Here is good news for the world. Christ didn’t die for good people because there aren’t any. He died for sinners and rebels and scoundrels. If you qualify in any of those categories, you can be saved.

Christmas means there is hope for all of us. If the scribes don’t want to come to Bethlehem, make room for the shepherds. If Herod hates Jesus, the Wise Men worship him.

“Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.”

There is always room for one more.

Spirit of God, we pray for those who feel forgotten this Christmas season. Help them to know they are always welcome at the Father’s table. Amen.

Musical bonus: Valaura Arnold asks us to think about the hurting people all around us in this moving version of Sweet Little Jesus Boy

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?