And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.
Jesus says three things about His kingdom that are wonderfully surprising. Jesus turns things upside down with His vision of the kingdom. It will be a delightfully different realm, unlike any kind of rule people in this world have ever known.
First on the surprise description: the kingdom of God is a pretty fun party. That's the image Jesus employed when talking about the kingdom as a table where people recline with Jesus to eat. It was the ancient middle eastern way of throwing a feast, a party, a social gathering with food, fun, and great interaction among the guests and host. Jesus let us know that the way to understand His kingdom is to see it as a great get together at a party.
Secondly, the party of the kingdom of God will not be an exclusive, stuffy, members-only country club affair. It's going to be packed tight with variety. Many will come from all directions (a reference to the breadth of the gospel message impacting all the globe and all people groups) to feast at the table Jesus prepares. All of these people will be honored guests reclining in joy with the Master of the feast. Yes, the kingdom of God will be diverse, and I will be glad that it looks nothing like an American evangelical church service! Lord knows, we've had enough of those. Let's look forward to that party that Jesus throws in His kingdom!
Finally, the usual social order is reversed at Jesus' table. I have a feeling the outcasts, the infirm, the minorities, the ridiculed, and the misfits will all be the first into the kingdom's table. The line guard angel with the clipboard will probably keep me outside looking in for a while, but I'm pretty sure I'll at least get a spot at the kid's table as Jesus favors the "least of these" and I heartily enjoy seeing them get the love of the Master showered on them. This vision from Jesus challenges me to have His heart for people and groups that our world ignores, ridicules, or hides from view. His kingdom party will celebrate the men and women that most people consider to be social losers. Get ready for everything to change! I can't wait for this day to come.