International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 19, 2014
Purpose: To consider how we demonstrate God’s justice and mercy for every human being when we show hospitality to the poor and disenfranchised
Bible Lesson: Luke 14:7-18a, 22-24
Background Scripture: Luke 14:7-24
Luke 14:7-18a (CEB)
(7) When Jesus noticed how the guests sought out the best seats at the table, he told them a parable. (8) "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.( 9) 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. (10) 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. (11) All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up."
(12) 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. (13) Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. (14) And you will be blessed because they can’t repay you. Instead, you will be repaid when the just are resurrected."
(15) When one of the dinner guests heard Jesus’ remarks, he said to Jesus, "Happy are those who will feast in God’s kingdom."
(16) Jesus replied, "A certain man hosted a large dinner and invited many people. (17) When it was time for the dinner to begin, he sent his servant to tell the invited guests, ‘Come! The dinner is now ready.’ (18) One by one, they all began to make excuses…..
Luke 14: 22-24
(22) The servant said, ‘Master, your instructions have been followed and there is still room.’ (23) 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. (24) I tell you, not one of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’"
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
All of those present are Jews of good standing within the synagogue and community. They have all just been to the worship service. I think Jesus is giving both a lesson in humility and hospitality. But more importantly, he is telling them that all of the people they consider unworthy are going to be invited to Jesus’ banquet someday. Jesus is letting them know that the unclean Gentiles will be the benefactor of his grace.
Since the guest list for this gathering was Pharisees and lawyers, it is not difficult to picture the jockeying for position that was taking place, each thinking they were more important than the other. Jesus’ lesson in humility is probably well deserved, and I denote a little sarcasm as Jesus quotes from the Book of Proverbs (25:6-7).
I am embarrassed to say this but Jesus’ quote about not inviting those that will invite you back to their house, is a little like the character “Sheldon Cooper” on the TV show “The Big Bang Theory.” When the neighbor girl informs Sheldon she is giving him a Christmas present, he replies, “No, you are giving me an obligation, to get you something of equal or greater value.” And so it is within our circle of friends when we entertain. Jesus says, if you give to those that cannot reciprocate, that is better.
Jesus tells them politely that the way they see themselves and the way that God sees them is quite different. God is not impressed by your earthly accomplishments or wealth, rather God is more interested in how you treat your fellow man that does not have as much as you. And when we help others we need to do it in a way that we are not acknowledged or honored for our deeds. Mathew 6 states (2)“Whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow your trumpet as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may get praise from people. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. (3) But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing 4 so that you may give to the poor in secret. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.
Jesus is making it clear that both our actions and our motives need to honor God. Regardless of your degrees or fame, what have you accomplished for God’s kingdom? How does your life reflect Christ teachings?
I relate the invitation to the great feast as the invitation given prior to a communion service. “The Lord invites to his table, all who love him and earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.”
None of us are good enough, on our own, to join Jesus at the table. The other truth is that unless we accept the invitation to “Come and dine,” we will not get to set at the table with Jesus.