Another Dinner Party
This week’s text is Luke 14: 1. 7-14. This starts off with Jesus attending yet another dinner party with the Pharisees. Other such events occur in Luke 7: 36-50 and in Luke 11: 37-54. For one who often harshly criticizes these folks, Jesus breaks bread with them quite a bit. That fact is a lesson all its own, that we would do well to heed.
We see at the start of the dinner that things are the same then as they are now. People are scrambling for the best, most visible seats. Everyone wants to be seen at the head table, closest to the host. None of this behavior from the 1st. century is in any way unfamiliar to us today. What is also not new is that this type of behavior represents a learning opportunity.
A Most Radical Teaching
Jesus uses this behavior by the guests at this party to roll out a very radical notion. So radical, in fact, that it represents a complete reversal of the accepted order of things in society. Jesus counsels us to be humble, to not seek status, to assume the lower status. It’s not that Jesus is denying the reality of the social order, He fully recognizes it as a reality in the world. The radicality of what Jesus is teaching is how He is calling us to respond to the reality of the social order. We are to assume a position of servitude and submission. If we are called to the place of honor, so be it. If we are not so called, then that is fine too.
The other thing Jesus is teaching in addition to our assumed place in the social structure is who we invite into that structure. We are not simply to consort with the well to do. We are to intentionally seek out the marginalized in our world. Verse 13 is all too clear. We are to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. These would be the most down and out in Jesus’ time. We may have a different list of maladies that make one “down and out” today, but the point stands; seek out the lowliest of the low and include them. All of this represents a radical reversal of values.
Then and Now
As is often the case, we may be tempted to assume that Jesus is talking about an ethic that is for the heavenly places or for way off in the future when He returns. Indeed Verse 14 talks about how blessed we will be at the resurrection of the righteous. As is usually the case Jesus is offering an eschatological perspective. There is almost always an eternal component to the teachings of our Lord.
Yet, this should not lead us to ignore the immediacy of Jesus’ call to us. He fully expects us to live into the radical reversal of social norms that He offers. Jesus always calls his followers right now. God never calls his people to wait. We are to, as best we can, live out this radical inclusivity right here and right now. The double-sided teachings of Jesus; the eternal and the earthly, reflect the reality that Jesus is both God and man. Our trust in Jesus as Lord is the eternal promise that we may have confidence in. It is also a call to respond to this eternal gift with action in the here and now. That is, if we believe, then we obey.
Praise Be to God