Start with Posture of Silence and Solitude (2 minutes)
Read Scripture: Luke 14
One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.
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.
When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Jesus had been invited to a Pharisee’s home for a meal and conversation. The Pharisee was hoping to trap Jesus and have him arrested. Jesus knew that they wanted to trap him but he was not afraid of them. As people picked their seats at the table, Jesus advised them not to rush for the best places at the dinner, looking to raise their social status and try to impress the others through the story he told. He used this meal in a comparison of being Kingdom of God. He wanted them to look for a place to serve rather than aim for prestige as service is more important than status. He also told them not to be exclusive about who they invited as God opens his Kingdom to all.
Jesus talked about being humble and not putting themselves down or giving an appearance of being humble. Truly humble people only compare themselves with Christ and realize their sinfulness and understand their limitations. They also recognize their gifts and are willing to use them as Jesus directs. True humility is a realistic assessment of self and a commitment to serve.
In the story, the man could see the glory of God’s kingdom but he didn’t understand how to get in. Jesus showed that many people turned down the invitation because of busyness and inconvenience. Their excuses seemed reasonable to them but he pointed out that nothing was more important than the call to follow Christ, no matter how inconvenient it seemed.
That story is followed by Jesus telling the crowds about counting the cost of following him. He uses the word “hate” in relation to self and other close family members in describing the cost. His word choice has more to do with the possibility of separating oneself from people and things we love because the cost can be great-loss of social roles, wealth, friends, money, time and even family. As seen here, following Christ doesn’t mean a trouble-free life.
Questions to ponder:
- How is this banquet like the Kingdom of God? How does our responsibility to God correspond to the servant’s role?
- What costs do you need to count in responding to Jesus? Is it worth the price?
- Given this passage, what is the best way for you to pray today?
End with Posture of Silence and Solitude (2 minutes)