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Luke 14:7-14 – Teaching at the banquet

Our English translations speak of people inviting and being invited. In Greek the language is literally of being calling or being called to a banquet. In the Old Testament law and prophets participating in a banquet was often a picture of fellowship with God.

In a culture where social status was so important, people would often be seated in order of social priority. Jesus noted how people seated themselves at this banquet choosing places of honor for themselves. Jesus’ response was to express a wisdom saying in which he advised taking a lower places for oneself and allowing the ‘one who called’ (the host) to come and raise you to a higher place, thereby avoiding the embarrassment of you having assigned yourself an overly high position and being humiliated when you were subsequently put in your place – a lower place. Jesus was communicating by this that those who assumed upon their status, like the ritually clean Pharisees, would be humbled by Jesus (the one who calls). Those who were humble, like the man with dropsy, might be subsequently exalted by Jesus as God. As a guest, humble yourself in the kingdom-banquet.

To the host, Jesus urged him to call not his friends, family and social peers but to rather call the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. In other words, the host is being called by Jesus to imitate Jesus. What Jesus does in calling people in the kingdom (the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind) is to be emulated. People like these cannot reciprocate social favors – acting in this way is grace.

As a guest, humble yourself in the kingdom-banquet. As a host imitate Jesus.