It was fascinating to read this account of a dinner invitation while many of us are planning special dinners during the Christmas Season. The chapter started with Jesus breaking bread, along with other guests, at the home of a Pharisee. Did you love as much as I did that the first thing Jesus did when he got there was heal a man with edema—-on the sabbath, yet again?
And how fun that here comes the donkey analogy again. I smiled when Jesus brought out the donkey comparison, even though the guests remained silent about this newest violation of the Sabbath rule—- although, in this new analogy, the poor animal had fallen into a pit. 🙂Here, once again, the kingdom of God, with His compassion, authority and power, has come near them!
Always a teacher, the Master used this dinner opportunity to share some wisdom with the other invited guests. Seeing how they put themselves ahead of others by choosing the best seats at the table, he explained how to really gain the respect of the host and the other guests. Show respect; give honour to the others. “For he who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted,” (vs 11). That might not be the cultural norm, but it is the Kingdom way.
I expect he was still talking about the Kingdom when he went on to tell them whom they should invite to their banquets—-those who can’t pay them back in any way. Perhaps he is here giving us insight into the fact that the only way we enter the Kingdom is by becoming like a little child who has nothing to give but a believing heart.
I wonder what he thought when someone who sat near him offered piously, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God!” because this comment seemed to move the conversation from Counsel to Cost.
Jesus began by describing some unworthy responses to an invitation to a great banquet: “I’d love to come, but I’ve bought some land, I’ve purchased some livestock, I’ve married a wife!” Jesus then brought it home, letting them know there is a cost to ignoring the Kingdom invitation.
The next part of the chapter comes later, after the dinner invitation. He was on the road somewhere, and large crowds were following him—as usual—when he turned and spoke to them, still on the topic of cost. Basically, he says, “If any one comes to me and is not all in, he cannot be my disciple.”
Was it just me, or did you at this point think about Peter? Peter, who wanted to be all in—-who thought he was; Peter, who soon after this was going to deny he even knew Jesus.
Aren’t we encouraged when we recall Jesus’ loving response to Peter after Peter’s faith was tried and found wanting? After his resurrection, Jesus told the women at the tomb, “Go tell my disciples, and Peter….” Peter learned that Grace found at the Cross was enough to overcome his past, and empower his future. Apparently, “all in” is more about the condition of the heart than anything else, and the Master knows the heart.
Aren’t we all thankful?