Luke 14:7 starts with Jesus discussing where people at a banquet sit and why. Jesus lived in an honor driven society. Status, standing, and in this case, seating near the host, said a lot about where you landed in the pecking order and the perception of others. Jesus watches as people jockey for positions of prominence. So, he gives them a strategy. Don’t be the kind of person who seats yourself in a place of honor only to be told you need to move to the kids table when someone more important comes in. (Don’t you hate when that happens.) Choose the place of less prominence and let others move you to a better place.
But this strategy is not ultimately about seating or standing. It’s really about a spirit of humility in how we think of ourselves in relation to God and others. Paul reminds us not to have an overinflated sense of self but to think of others before ourselves. Here, Jesus gives us his well-known line. 14:11 “…all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
But Jesus is after more than a meek mindset. Jesus is all about a mission for the meek. His is a different kind of kingdom that’s for everyone, including people who are different. It’s a kingdom for people who don’t get invited to important banquets in the first place. Jesus has a remedy for that. You invite them.
During this pandemic, a common refrain sounds something like this: “When this is all over, I can’t wait to get together with family again.” “I can’t wait to do church or Life Group in person with friends. I am right there with you. I am beyond ready for those things and more.
But I wonder if Jesus might not want to expand our dream a bit. When this is all over, I can’t wait to serve the most vulnerable, share a meal with those most in need, offer comfort to those who have felt alone, sit at the bedside of the sick, volunteer again to help people with disabilities, and extend belonging to those who have felt shunned and shamed.
Stop worrying about how you look and work on how you love. Do that, Jesus says, and whether or not people repay you today, you will be rewarded someday at the great banquet of God at the resurrection of the righteous.