People will come from the east, west, north, and south and will ·sit down at the table [L recline; C the posture for a banquet or dinner party] in the kingdom of God [C the messianic banquet, a metaphor for God’s final salvation; Is. 25:6–8].
So he went on his way through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way towards Jerusalem. Someone remarked, “Lord, are only a few men to be saved?” And Jesus told them, “You must do your utmost to get in through the narrow door, for many, I assure you, will try to do so and will not succeed, once the master of the house has got up and shut the door. Then you may find yourselves standing outside and knocking at the door crying, ‘Lord, please open the door for us.’ He will reply to you, ‘I don’t know who you are or where you come from.’ ‘But ...’ you will protest, ‘we have had meals with you, and you taught in our streets!’ Yet he will say to you, ‘I tell you I do not know where you have come from. Be off, you scoundrels!’ At that time there will be tears and bitter regret—to see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets inside the kingdom of God, and you yourselves excluded, outside! Yes, and people will come from the east and the west, and from the north and the south, and take their seats in the kingdom of God. There are some at the back now who will be in the front then, and there are some in front now who will then be far behind.”
“That’s when you’ll find yourselves out in the cold, strangers to grace. You’ll watch Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets march into God’s kingdom. You’ll watch outsiders stream in from east, west, north, and south and sit down at the table of God’s kingdom. And all the time you’ll be outside looking in—and wondering what happened. This is the Great Reversal: the last in line put at the head of the line, and the so-called first ending up last.”
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