I’m not sure why people kept asking Jesus to dinner. He really had a knack for creating awkward social moments. In this week’s text, for instance, Jesus was invited to the home of a Pharisee whom I imagine had no idea what he was in for. Jesus sat back and observed for a while as the guests jockeyed for the best, most honorable seats (that’s where the good wine was served, after all) and as the host welcomed all the elite whom he hoped would reciprocate with invitations and introductions. So Jesus observed all of this for a while…until he decided it was time for a “parable” or a much-needed lesson on party etiquette. I imagine the room got very quiet as Jesus began to speak.
When you are invited to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor. Sit down at the lowest place, so your host may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ And when you give a dinner, do not invite your friends, or your family, or your well-to-do neighbors. Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Luke 14: 7-14
Who invited this guy? I imagine the guests mumbling under their breath as their host busied himself in shame. Words of truth don’t go over very well when all you’re trying to do is have a good time.
Did Jesus ever relax? Did he ever go off-duty and just have a good time? Maybe. Maybe not. I imagine it was hard for this Messiah-in-the-making to ever really cut loose knowing that his every word, his every action would be so timeless. And Jesus’ words here, in the Gospel of Luke, are timeless. They were not just meant for those Pharisees and dinner guests on that one unfortunate Sabbath evening. They were meant for all of us and for all of those who are in search of the Kingdom of God.
Through Luke’s storytelling, Jesus’ goal here was not to create a social awkward moment, but a timeless vision of what God’s banquet, God’s feast, God’s Kingdom is to be like. It’s a place where the humble are exalted and the exalted are humbled. It’s a place where you and your friends and your family members rub shoulders with the poor, and the sick, and the lame. It’s a place where seats of honor are not reserved nor highly sought because all are equally held in the love and grace that extends from the table.
We need to be reminded of this vision. We need someone willing to stand up and make a scene about this Good News-God ordained-party-for-all that is bound to be a really good time.
May the words of my mouth, the meditations of my mind, and the feelings of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer. Amen.