Répondez s’il vous plaît

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 55, Matthew 3

Two years ago, as I was working as a summer associate in New York and London, I enjoyed fantastic food at some of the top restaurants in the world – Per Se, Jean Georges, Daniel, Le Bernardin, Sushi Yasuda, Maze, Gordon Ramsay etc.  Thus, I compare the gospel feast in Isaiah 55 with these world-renowned meals, according to Zagat’s four criteria.

Food

Similar to the food served in internationally acclaimed restaurants, the gospel feast is not merely meant to satisfy hunger.  From its visual presentation to physical taste, it’s meant to be enjoyed and savored as “the richest of fare” [Isaiah 55:2 NIV].  At the gospel feast, water is served for life, milk is served for growth, and wine is served for joy.  This food satisfies the eternal soul, not just the taste buds: “hear me, that your soul may live” [1].

Décor

Although the décor in top restaurants lends itself to pretention, the décor at the gospel feast welcomes all.  There are only two types of people and both are invited.  First, the poor – those who are aware of their need for the gospel – are invited: “Come, all you who are thirsty … Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” [2].  Second, the wealthy – those who are not aware – are invited: “Why spend money on what is not bread … ?” [3].

Service

Unlike the small meals served at top restaurants, however, the gospel feast is abundant.  Even in spite of invitee failure, the Lord is abundantly generous: “Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” [4].

Cost

Although top restaurants are expensive, the gospel feast – subject to two caveats – is free.  First, although free to us, it wasn’t cheap to Jesus – His life bought our meal [5].  Second, although it is free on delivery, we must receive it by coming, listening, seeking or calling [6].  Yet, what could be simpler?  He has done all the work; we need merely to RSVP.  Yet, since Isaiah hints that the invitation has an expiration date, our RSVP must be timely: “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near” [7].

If you haven’t RSVP’d, why not?  Do you think the food is lacking or the décor is awkward or the service is below par or the cost is too high?

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[1] Isaiah 55:3 NIV  |  [2] Isaiah 55:1 NIV  |  [3] Isaiah 55:2 NIV  |  [4] Isaiah 55:7 NIV  |  [5] see Isaiah 53  |  [6] Isaiah 55:1,2,6  |  [7] Isaiah 55:6 NIV

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5 Comments to “Répondez s’il vous plaît”

  1. Being a lover of food, great cuisine, and a believer, I really appreciate your comparison of the gospel feast to the elements of great restaurants! ONe additional note, I once heard Keller refer to our server at the wedding banquet being Christ himself, Luke 12:37. Amazing to realize our Savior will also be our server at the feast. Please put this on FB, it hasn’t been posted yet. I want to share this with my friends!

  2. Sarah, Thanks for that addition! I remember when TK referenced that and I tried to find it in this passage, but a direct reference here is lacking (though found in other references, of course!). So, thank you for the addition! :) xoxo

  3. Great post, Bethany! I’d be willing to bet that most people I know who haven’t RSVPd would give the following reasons for doing so:

    1.) The people they know who have RSVPd are not very fun to dine with — They’re judgmental, hypocritical, patronizing, and all sorts of foul. And if they’re friends with the host, then the host probably isn’t nice to know either. They’re all boasting about having had a foretaste of the feast and swearing that they’d never want to eat anything else, but the stains of the dog food and curdled milk they guzzle when they think no one else is looking are staining the fine clothes they’ve dressed in (more on the sharp threads below).

    2.) The cost IS actually too high — Sure, the invite says the meal has been paid for, but there’s some fine print that says those attending will have to spend every day preparing to sit at the table in the host’s presence by “putting themselves to death”. They’re not sure what that means, but it sounds scary and a lot like starving yourself until the feast is ready. They’ve also heard that there’s a very serious dress code that the invite doesn’t mention is necessary for attendance, but that will surely result in ostracizing from the others who are attending if it is not strictly abided by.

    2.) The invite is a sham — There is no restaurant, no feast, but only an excuse to get dressed up and make like you’re going to some fancy banquet with the best of the best. Everyone talks about this great host, but no one has seen him around (while there are plenty of well-known alternatives who will deliver right to your door for free). So when you walk out your door after having spent a lifetime starving yourself and preparing for the meal and tolerating all the jerks who are also headed to this thing, you walk out into absolutely nothing.

    That’s my bet on the most common answers to a lack of RSVP.

  4. Grrrrrrr-eat post!!! Love the allusions to Christ’s dinner table!!!!

  5. @Bethany–great post. Great analogy.

    @Joe…I hear you. I think that you are absolutely right–and we need to ask God to help us to always feast on him and what he’s done so that we aren’t creepy, judgmental dog food-eaters.

    Still…we always need to extend the invitation. We’ll never be perfect and we’ll never have all the answers, so that shouldn’t be an excuse…

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