By Ben Simpson
As we read through the Gospel of Luke, we want to encourage you to first begin with the Daily Reading that will take you through the entire book of Luke. Then, read the First 15 Scripture and Reflection to dive a little deeper into a few verses from the Daily Reading.
Today's Daily Reading is Luke 14:1-24.
15 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.”
On a Sabbath day Jesus joins a prominent Pharisee in his home for a meal. Opposition to Jesus continues to mount and “he was being carefully watched” (14:1).
Jesus has no fear. A man with an abnormal swelling in his body stands before Jesus, and he asks those assembled, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” It was prohibited to work on the Sabbath. Callous, his opponents say nothing. Jesus takes hold of the man, heals him, and sends him out.
Jesus offers a hypothetical: “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?” With a single question he exposes their hypocrisy. But they still remain silent.
As everyone begins to take their seats Jesus notices that they are jockeying for the places of honor. Jesus then tells them it would better to take the lowest place so as to be given honor by the host rather than humiliated for presuming one’s importance. He turns to his host and makes an observation: the meals we share are often used to reinforce our own power, prestige, and position. Instead, Jesus tells his host that he should invite “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind...Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
At this moment one of those at the table says, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
In reply Jesus tells a story.
Jesus tells them that there was once a certain person who threw a party and invited many guests. Once everything had been prepared, this person sent his servants to inform the invitees the table was set. One by one, the excuses came rolling in. The first had to see a field he had purchased, the second to care for newly acquired oxen, and the third just married.
These excuses brought Deuteronomy 20:5-7 to mind. Each reason offered was valid for avoiding military conscription, and the religious leaders would have known this. But this was not a war.
Jesus’ choice, however, does suggest a conflict. Those who should be gladly joining the banquet choose not to do so. Instead, Jesus tells us the master of the banquet sends his servants into the streets and back alleys and throughout the countryside to invite the lame, crippled, blind, poor, and common folk to join him, “so that my house will be full.”
His final words, directed at those around him, were chilling, “I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet” (14:24).
Jesus was some dinner guest!
But don’t miss his message: it is better to be among the poor, lame, crippled, and blind who have been welcomed to the banquet as surprise invitees than among the privileged, powerful, and preoccupied who have lost touch with the wide mercy God has brought in Christ.
Jesus is our host. The banquet is his. And all have been invited. Will we join him?
Like the servant in Jesus’ story, who are you inviting to the banquet of Christ’s kingdom today so that his house may be full?
Lord Jesus, you have invited us to the feast of the kingdom of God. May we welcome all people to that feast, and may we ourselves be humbled that you have made a place for us at your table. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.