For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God."
Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, `Come, for everything is now ready.' "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, `I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' "Another said, `I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.' "Still another said, `I just got married, so I can't come.'
"The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, `Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'
"`Sir,' the servant said, `what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.'
"Then the master told his servant, `Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'"
Those who had been entrusted with telling the whole world about the Messiah rejected the invitation to come and celebrate His birth. But the story doesn’t end there. God sent angels to the shepherds who were keeping watch over flocks at night. Shepherds were typically considered the poor, rough-around-the-edges class of people. And when the invitation was extended to them, they came. And how did they respond?:
When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told,” (Luke 2:17-20)
The Magi had brought luxurious gifts and worshipped Jesus. They knew who He was and they acknowledged Him with the best that they had. But the shepherds also gave a gift. They spread the Good News. They responded the way God had intended: They told others. Never short-change the Gospel of Christ. Those whom we might expect to accept the Message may reject it, and those whom we might expect to reject it may just accept it –with amazing results. And let’s not forget that those who are forgiven much are usually more grateful than those who are forgiven little (Luke 7:47). Maybe a great gift for Jesus would be giving something to the undeserving? Who knows how He might receive and use this gift? God is truly amazing and He works wonders that run contrary to conventional human wisdom.
Kouts has many who do not know Him –many. Our community needs to hear the Good News –and it certainly will hear if we are grateful. May our gifts for the King match our sense of gratitude –and may our gratitude be rich and deep. All glory and honor to the King of kings!