The Original Party
Jesus was the most joyful person who ever lived. For some reason, though, many people—including a troubling number of Christians—continue to imagine Jesus as some sort of strict rule-lover, a fun-smashing killjoy who preferred to crash parties instead of throw them.
Sure, Jesus shared some tough words from time to time, but his main message was that a heavenly party was heading straight for Earth, and the whole world was invited. In a way, a party is why all things came to be, for everything around us is an act of pure desire and delight (Rev. 4:11; Zeph. 3:17). Like a book too good not to pass on, or a restaurant too delicious not to share with your friends, or a scenic view too beautiful not to capture with pictures, the love and joy of the Trinity were too wonderful, too glorious to keep to themselves.
The Trinity is so saturated with truth and beauty and goodness that their delight in each other spilled over the banks, like the Nile in flood season, creating life where there was no life so that others might come to share in God’s joy. Creation was God’s divine invitation to join the party of the ages.
God’s Second Invitation
Against the backdrop of God’s eternal party, the story of humanity could be summed up as our stubborn refusal to celebrate the goodness of God. Thinking that our ways will end better for us than his ways, we have turned our back to God—the very source of life and joy and every good thing (Acts 17;28; Ps. 16:11; Jas. 1:17)—choosing to walk the way of death and despair.
That is the context for Jesus’ incarnation. He came to re-invite all those who (through sin) had uninvited themselves. Jesus’ main message was, “The kingdom of God is at hand!”, which meant, “God reigns!”, which further meant that God’s party could not be stopped. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, God would see to it that everything wrong would be set right: rebellion would be replaced by obedience from the heart, mourning was would give way to rejoicing, and instead sin death there would be peace and life.
As Isaiah the prophet describes,
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isa. 25:6-9)
So the world ends, just as it began, with a never-ending party in God’s honor. There will be rich foods, well-aged wines, all the best that the world has to offer. We will eat, drink, sing, and dance in celebration of the glory of God. And right there in the midst of his people will be Jesus, the Lord of the Feast, the Master of the Ceremony, the Passover Lamb himself. We will party with Jesus, and the party will never end.
Yet God also tells us about those outside the party, the ones who refused to join him. Jesus himself warned us about this in the parable of the banquet (cf. Luke 14:16-24). He said when the time for the party comes, God will say to the world, “Come, for everything is now ready.” But many will refuse his invitation. The naysayers, the excuse-makers, the rival party-throwers, and all those who feel that they have no need for the grace of Jesus will miss out on his glorious party. (And that’s putting it quite mildly.) Instead of the party where life is found, they tragically will find even more death than they ever thought possible.
Partying with Jesus Today
Enjoying Jesus’ party starts not at his return, but at the moment we realize what he has accomplished on our behalf. Indeed, Christians have always understood that salvation and celebration go hand-in-hand. Grace elicits volcanic gratitude—χάρις evokes εὐχαριστία.
Practically speaking, this means Christians should be the most joyful people on the planet. Instead of grumbling and complaining there should be unending gratitude for the grace we have been shown in Christ. Instead of an endless craving for more stuff, there should be deep contentment for the “better and abiding” possession we have been given (Heb. 10:34). Instead of pessimism and fear there should be optimism and hope—Jesus wins! And instead of solemn assemblies and dour spirits, we should be more like the Father who responds to problems with parties (Luke 15:17-24).
Finally, perhaps all his means Christians should be people who know how to celebrate: people who celebrate the blessing of children by having a family full of them; people who celebrate God’s superabundant provision by eating bacon and bratwursts and sugar snap peas to the glory of God; people who make art and sing songs and write books; people who have Bibles with worn edges and wine-stained pages. In other words, we should live like people who know that Jesus has invited us to an eternal party where the celebration (and enjoyment) of God’s glory will never end.