One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. Luke 14:1
Meals say things about us. Throughout history meals have been used to show off and dramatize the power of the host. But Jesus shows in this meal that God is saying something about how He feels about broken people.
This meal takes place on a Sabbath day and Jesus is going to dinner with a leader among the Pharisees. Now, imagine this scene: Perhaps Jesus and this man had just returned from Synagogue where they read Torah and worshipped Yahweh and now they are on their way to share a meal together.
The host of this meal is an important person. He is a member of the powerful sect called Pharisees. He not only was a member of this powerful group he was a leader. This was no Storm Trooper Pharisee; this was a Sith Lord Pharisee.
And this dinner invitation is not as innocent as it might first appear. A person who is ill just happens to be present. These religious leaders know that Jesus has a penchant for healing sick people and here one is placed right in front of him, tempting him to break a Sabbath rule.
Jesus looks at the crippled man and back to his host and says, “On this day when we worship a loving, compassionate God who creates, redeems and restores—would be Okay with you if I heal this person who is in pain?”
Jesus takes their silence as permission and heals the man.
Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” And they had nothing to say. Vs. 4-6
Apparently they had a rule against answering questions on the Sabbath.
And because everyone in this story is so prone to miss and misunderstand what God is doing in the world through Jesus, He tells a story and makes a parable out of the dinner itself.
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or 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.” Vs. 12-14
Thus Jesus clearly teaches that you should not have your relatives over for dinner. Some of you have been searching for this verse your whole life long! You’re going to go call up the relatives and say, “Sorry, Jesus says you can’t come to my house for Thanksgiving Dinner—Luke 14:12.”
Is Jesus really saying here that it’s a sin to fix a meal for your relatives? No! Of course He’s not doing that! He’s contrasting conventional human wisdom with life in the Kingdom of God. Conventional wisdom says, if you’re going to do something nice for someone, make sure that they can do something nice back for you. Quid pro quo. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
But Jesus is saying that in the Kingdom, people sometimes do nice things for other folks who cannot do anything back for them at all.
Those of us seated at the King’s table ought to be marked by radical hospitality. There is a specific sequence to the people listed here. It is a sequence that Jesus mentions several times in the Gospels. The conventional and popular wisdom of the day among the religious elite is that those specific groups had apparently done something to sin away their spiritual standing. Therefore they were going to be excluded when God set up his Kingdom.
So Jesus is telling this religious Sith Lord Pharisee, “The banquet God is throwing is for all the wrong people.” This means for those of us already seated at the table, that we are never to be selective about who we bring with us to the meal. I am the wrong kind of person, who better than a person like me to bring others like me to the table?
Most other species forage alone, so that feeding is a solitary business, but human beings seem to love eating together. Even when we are stuck alone with a frozen dinner, most of us will open a magazine or turn on the television just for company. It is, at any rate, one of the clues to his presence. There is always the chance, when we are eating together, that we will discover the risen Lord in our midst. ~ Barbara Brown Taylor, “The Gospel Medicine”, page 95
Who around you needs to be welcomed into your life and into your home? This might mean you need to clear some time on your schedule for those outside your circle. I believe Christians ought to throw the best parties!
Who do you need to welcome to your Spiritual home? Most of you were invited by someone to attend a family of faith. Someone in your world right now would go to a gathering of believers if you invited them. And there they will hear the Gospel of Grace and find a place they are welcomed and loved—you did.
Who do you need to make space for that is strange to you? Who is your Extra Grace Required (EGR) person? In every gaggle of believers there is someone who is an extra grace required person. If you look in your group and don’t see one, that means you are the EGR person. Who in your world do you think is too far from God’s grace or secretly hope they are too far? Who is too dirty, rude, obnoxious or strange to sit at God’s table?
Who are the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind in your world that need to know that there is a chair waiting for them at the King’s Table? Are they on your mind and heart? They are on someone’s heart…they are on the King’s heart.
When we really absorb Jesus into our core we all will be people who are marked by hospitality. It is a gospel for the misfits, a banquet for the broken.