WEEK SEVEN, DAY TWO, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK SEVEN THEME: HOSPITALITY
DAY TWO THEME: EXTENDING INVITATIONS
SCRIPTURE: LUKE 14:1-24 (CEB)
“One Sabbath, when Jesus went to share a meal in the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees, they were watching him closely. A man suffering from an abnormal swelling of the body was there. Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, ‘Does the Law allow healing on the Sabbath or not?’ But they said nothing. Jesus took hold of the sick man, cured him, and then let him go. He said to them, ‘Suppose your child or ox fell into a ditch on the Sabbath day. Wouldn’t you immediately pull it out?’ But they had no response.
When Jesus noticed how the guests sought out the best seats at the table, he told them a parable. ‘When someone invites you to a wedding celebration, don’t take your seat in the place of honor. Someone more highly regarded than you could have been invited by your host. The host who invited both of you will come and say to you, “Give your seat to this other person.” Embarrassed, you will take your seat in the least important place. Instead, when you receive an invitation, go and sit in the least important place. When your host approaches you, he will say, “Friend, move up here to a better seat.” Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.’
Then Jesus said to the person who had invited him, ‘When you host a lunch or dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers and sisters, your relatives, or rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return and that will be your reward. Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. And you will blessed because they can’t repay you. Instead, you will be repaid when the just are resurrected.’ When one of the dinner guests heard Jesus’ remarks, he said to Jesus, ‘Happy are those who will feast in God’s kingdom.’
Jesus replied, ‘A certain man hosted a large dinner and invited many people. When it was time for the dinner to begin, he sent his servant to tell the invited guests, “Come! The dinner is now ready.” One by one, they all began to make excuses. The first one told him, “I bought a farm and must go and see it. Please excuse me.” Another said, “I bought five teams of oxen, and I’m going to check on them. Please excuse me.” Another said, “I just got married, so I can’t come.” When he returned, the servant reported these excuses to his master. The master of the house became angry and said to his servant, “Go quickly to the city’s streets, the busy ones and the side streets, and bring the poor, crippled, blind, and lame.” The servant said, “Master, your instructions have been followed and there is still room.” The master said to the servant, “Go to the highways and back alleys and urge people to come in so that my house will be filled. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will taste my dinner.”‘”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: There are lots of elements in these scriptures that have caused me to ponder. To begin with, Jesus is in the company of the Pharisees. In today’s experience, these would be the churched folks – those who have been churched all their lives and maybe even have an air of superiority as a religious person – one who has earned respect by doing the right things, or at least all appears to be that way. It doesn’t mention the Disciples so I’m not sure whether or not they are there. But Jesus is, and there is never a moment when he retreats from being the Son of God – never letting down his hair and just being. Everything about him was “kingdom first”.
At this fine dinner party surrounded by lawyers and Pharisees, Jesus cannot simply ignore the other guest there who was suffering from an abnormal swelling. This gathering is on the Sabbath, and Jesus is aware that he is being watched closely, so he asks before he acts…“Does the Law allow healing on the Sabbath or not?” Jesus is asking them to look further into what they believe. As good church people, they would not want to break any of the religious rules – but surely they cared for this other guest who was also at the dinner. Surely they longed for him to become whole again and be free of his suffering – surely!
Getting no response from the religious people around him, Jesus took charge and healed the man. He brought the situation to the human standpoint – “Suppose your child or ox fell into a ditch on the Sabbath day. Wouldn’t you immediately pull it out?” Of course – we would do anything – especially for our children when they are in need – regardless of the day or time. Urgent need supercedes religion. That is God’s call on our lives – not that we be good religious people – that we see the needs – open our eyes and see people around us – and do anything in our power to lighten their load. It is not enough to feel sorry for them or hope and pray for something to relieve their suffering – we are to look within and do our part. We share in the healing that God offers to each and every person.
After that incident, Jesus is observing the behavior of those attending the dinner. Everyone wanted to have the best seats – everyone wanted to be important and to be noticed, loved, significant. Within all of us is that basic need to matter. But what we have to do is to acknowledge the value we are in God. God’s love truly overrides any other opinion. God loves us no matter where we sit at the party or what role we play in society. God can use someone with no status just as much as God can use the most important among us. That is the point of the ending of this parable – in my opinion – that if the important and socially significant don’t accept God’s invitation to serve in God’s Kingdom, then he will invite in others who will from every nook and cranny and ourskirt until His House is full. God came first to the Hebrews, the Jewish persons set apart for His Perfect Plan. But never does He force His plan on us, even His chosen Jews.
We become more and more of God’s image as we see each other as God sees us – all worthy – all sinners – all His children. I first heard it from a sermon Terry once preached …. “the most used word in Heaven in going to be “OH!”…. We see a glimpse of Heaven from time to time dimly – let us lean into being God’s adorable ones and sharing that with each other. Amen.