We all know that Jesus can be described as loving, forgiving, compassionate, and holy. But, how many of us describe Jesus as party lover?
Let’s think about it, how many cool things in the Gospels happen in the middle of a party? Three of the four Gospels find Jesus at parties in their first two chapters. Jesus got baptized, went into the desert to be tempted, and then came out and went to a party!
The only Gospel that doesn’t start with a party is Matthew and he was writing to religious people who were taught that all that mattered was following the rules.
John tells us of the wedding that Jesus attended. It must have been a fun wedding because they ran out of wine. Jesus’ mother knew that the solution wasn’t to shut down the party, but to go to Jesus and to ask him to somehow keep it going. She obviously wasn’t expecting Jesus to give her a lecture on why it’s wrong to drink.
So, what did Jesus do? He turned water into wine; letting his Mother and the host know that he cared about the party and wanted it to be everything they had dreamed for it to become.
Luke tells us that Jesus went straight from the synagogue where he announced his ministry to a party at Peter’s house. The party was interrupted with Peter’s mother-in-law being very sick; it says that everyone begged Jesus to heal her. When Jesus responds in compassion and heals her; Luke tells us that she got right up and prepared a meal for everyone. In her opinion, it was time to party!
Jesus cares about the party and brings his contribution to make it special.
Mark also talks about the parties Jesus attended. It quickly occurs to the Pharisees and John the Baptist’s disciples that Jesus and his disciples are having a lot more fun than they are. So, they send him a question, ‘Why don’t you fast?
Jesus’ reply is that wedding guests don’t fast while celebrating with the groom. Is it possible that Jesus’ answer is permission AND an expectation to have a good time when we get together?
Once again, in Mark 2, the ‘good people’ are upset with Jesus because he isn’t observing all the rules they had set up regarding the Sabbath and to control people. Jesus replies, ‘the Sabbath is for people to enjoy, not to dread’. Hear that!
Somewhere along the way, we have gotten the idea that to follow Jesus is to be serious and not to have any fun, so we disabled the party setting. But, is this the good news that Jesus intended?
I know that I have fallen into the mistake of thinking that when we gather we need to make sure that some spiritual activity happens. However, I began to understand that the less I focus on this, the more that Jesus Himself shows up in the middle of the party and brings His joy.
I believe we can embrace parties as times to celebrate our friendships and to embrace new friendships, just being ourselves and knowing that because we are passionate about Jesus, good things will happen.More and more this looks like the good news to me!
Do you see a fun-loving person when you read these stories? Where do you need to make a mental adjustment about who Jesus is?
Here’s my invitation to you: Have a party!
MAKE IT FUN. Include good food, good company and some good wine. Before everyone comes, just take a moment to invite Jesus to come and join the party and then relax and let the party flow.
What Jesus Knew About Parties
Sometimes it takes a party to prove that people matter more than our opinions.
I think Jesus knew something happens at a party that can’t happen anywhere else. When you enjoy being with other people, when comfortable with how others see the world, when people feel safe and free enough to show their true colors, it opens doors. It deepens relationships.
The Pharisees [think religious people], didn’t like the parties. Their theology kept them from getting too close to people they labeled sinners. It’s beneath them to rub shoulders with the average at a local party. They are in the religious elite.
So, imagine how they felt when Jesus came along and changed the rules. Imagine how insulted they were when Jesus suddenly expanded the invitation list.
But Jesus is Different than Religion
I wish I could have seen the faces of the Pharisees when Jesus told the story of the wedding feast. It’s in Matthew 22. When He talked about the invitation the host sent to VIPs. And then He suddenly gave the story a twist.
Jesus describes the host sending messengers to the streets to make sure everyone knew they were invited too. He opened the door wide, so they could all come in. Jesus was saying, ‘Sometimes it takes a party to remind us that everyone is invited to the party’. That’s the kingdom of God. It’s a party God is inviting everyone to.
And everyone means EVERYBODY.
Everyone who is black, white, Middle Eastern, Hispanic and Indigenous.
Everyone who is young, everyone who is old.
Everyone who is a Leaf’s fan. Even a Canadien’s fan.
Everyone who drinks Coke, everyone who drinks Pepsi.
Even everyone who likes country music!
Everyone who likes good, old Rock and Roll. Wait, who doesn’t like good, old Rock and Roll?
Even everyone who voted Democratic or Republican or Conservative or Liberal or NDP will be invited to this party.
And so are you!
Don’t miss this. There’s a party happening. It’s going to be one HEAVEN of a party because the invitation was extended from Jesus. And we’re all invited.
So, what better time to throw a party than at Christmas? It’s about Jesus coming to set you free. To free you from rules, rituals and religion. And to set you free to party with Him!
You have your invitation. It’s time to respond. Come to the party.