Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dining with Jesus

It was on the Sabbath when Jesus went to eat a meal at the home of a prominent Pharisee.  The Scripture in Luke 14 tells us Jesus was being watched carefully.  Sitting right in front of Jesus was a man who was sick. His body was abnormally swelling, and that brought Jesus to ask his Pharisee hosts and the highly regarded experts of the law,  "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?"  They refused to answer, so Jesus healed the sick man.

 Then Jesus wanted them to answer another question. "If you child or your ox falls into a well on the Sabbath day, are you going to pull it out?" For the second time, they refused to answer. 

Meanwhile, back in the dining room, Jesus was noticing how the arriving guests were picking places of honor at the dining table.  So Jesus told the parable about being invited to a wedding feast, and tells them not to take the place of honor.  There is a chance someone more distinguished than you might show up and the host will have you move to another place so the distinguished guest can have the place of honor. No doubt that would cause humiliation.  Jesus went on to say you should be seated in the lowest place, then the host will probably have you move up to a better place.  That will bring more honor to you in the presence of the other guests.  Sounds like a lot of ado about nothing, but Jesus had something else to say which makes it very important.  "For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

Verses 12-14 gives additional etiquette lessons. 12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Now wait.....when we host a dinner, don't we do that to show off a bit?  We want our guests to see how nice our home is, or to get some idea of our success, or maybe everyone can be amazed at how many influential people we know.  Jesus shows us the better way,  "But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed."  He was getting us to see our real motives in making our guest list.  Are we hosting a dinner and inviting those we know will invite us to their house to watch them show off, too?  Hopefully, our heart is in the right place and we are inviting those less fortunate, knowing they will never be able to repay us.  Jesus promises we will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. 

Jesus never mentions using the right fork or eating dessert before the main course. You will not find him scolding you for talking with your mouth full.  His etiquette lessons involve us acquiring and cultivating a heart with concern for the sick, the less fortunate, the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.  He always takes the side of the underdog, showing his love and forgiveness to those who had already been condemned by their peers.  I'm happy to learn his way.  After all, he loves me enough to invite me to his eternal feast.


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