Reading for Thursday, March 22: Luke 14
A Sabbath meal is the setting for this chapter. Jesus refuses to overlook the opportunity to do good, healing a man with dropsy to the chagrin of the Pharisees and lawyers. But He also uses this as an occasion for teaching, telling a story to His fellow dinner guests.
Hospitality was an essential characteristic in the ancient world. In particular, the Jews believed the Messiah would someday invite the faithful to join Him in a great Messianic feast — a table over which He would preside. The Pharisees propagated the notion that only righteous, pious, Law-observant Jews would receive such an invitation. But Jesus assaults this by encouraging His followers by inviting the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind to their table “for they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just,” (v14). He also teaches His disciples to shun the position of superiority, instead opting for the lowest place. By this, others will see Jesus in us — through hospitable humility.
But moreover, Jesus teaches us to associate with “the least of these” because He chooses to align Himself with members of this crowd. Jesus positions Himself in “the highways and hedges (v23)”, inviting the downtrodden and the weary to sup at His table. He clearly means to expand the prevailing notions of righteousness of His day…but He also wants to open our eyes to the people around us, those to whom He calls us to be conduits of grace and God-presence. By dining with these, we follow the example of the One who takes us in and offers us a seat at His table — the One who by all accounts should NOT want to associate with us in our sinful state, yet He willfully chooses to do so anyway.
We would be wise not to forget that we were once “alienated and hostile in mind (Col. 1.21)”, yet He chose to reconcile us, bringing us near to His table through His blood. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ,” (Eph. 2.13).
Accepting His invitation becomes our most important commitment. As such, we should count the cost (v28), for He commands us to a life of “saltiness”, distinctly bearing witness to the One who has done so much on our behalf. But this requires humility: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted,” (v11).
Will you humble yourself before Him and accept His gracious invitation? This is the question of our lives.