And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them. When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.(Luke 14:7-15)
Jesus had been invited to a feast at the home of one of the chief Pharisees. Luke tells us that He had been invited so that they might watch him. (Who invites anyone to a feast to catch him in a trap?). It was the sabbath day, the gift day ordained by God for Israel to have rest from their labors. But on this Sabbath the Pharisees and scribes were working hard to try to entrap the Son of God.
When Jesus healed a man of the dropsy , they were angry. Jesus sharply rebuked them for their externalism, and for their hard heartedness. Does the Law of God make provision for beasts of burden but not for man made in the Image of God?
Jesus then noted how the guests of the feast clamored for the chief seats of honor. What would true spirituality look like? Go to the lowest seat and allow the master of the feast to call you up, in other words, humble yourself and allow God to exalt you. In fact why not throw your own feast, at your expense, but invite only the least’ the poor, afflicted, lame, blind, and the outcast? None of them could ever repay you, only God would see it and reward you.
What is it that Jesus is doing here? He is dealing with the most “pious” and “devoted” believers in all of the land of Judea, the very Shepherds and leaders of the people of God, and Jesus is trying to show them that they are in no ways fit to lead anyone into the Kingdom of God. Their spiritual condition, the very opposite of what they imagine it is, these elite spiritual leaders are far from pious, in fact they are in deep spiritual danger and even liable for judgment.
The self seeking that they exhibit is the symptom of the deeper problem, the hard heartedness and lack of love, the externalism which literally inverts scripture. The vicious game of “gotcha” that they were playing with Jesus, trying to catch him at breaking the Law, all indicate that these Shepherds were far from God, perhaps farther than the prostitute ad tax collector that they so despised!
Jesus would bring them to repentance, if at all possible.
At the very point in his teaching when Jesus said, “you will be recompensed at the resurrection…” , one of the guests burst out with a hearty blessing, “Blessed is He that shall eat Bread in the Kingdom of God!”. He was triggered at the very mention of the resurrection, which comes at the end and is associated with the long anticipated Messianic feast.
He obviously was sure He was going to be there. After all he was a Pharisee, and had dedicated his life to the keeping of all 613 commandments of the LORD. He believed in God, One God, and in heaven and Hell, and the Kingdom to come, and He believed in Angels and in Satan.
This man kept kosher and would not compromise with Hellenism, or Herodianism, or any of the other compromises people all around Him were making, in his heretical day. And He believed in the Messiah to come, for certain. Of course He was going to the Messianic banquet!
Furthermore He was sure that all of those who would be there, “Eating bread in the Kingdom of God”, with Abraham, Isaac and with Jacob, would share in his faith, outlook and manner of life. The only people there would be people who were just like Him and his friends. there was no question about it, all of them would be there as well, at the great feast of God, in the day when the veil is swallowed up and death is finished and the world will be made right again!
It is in response to the assumption of this man and the other guests sitting around the table that Jesus addressed the Parable of the great Feast…stay tuned