“Etiquette Take Notice”
Rev. Mark Vickers
August 28, 2016
Luke 14:7-14 7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9 and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Once again, we find ourselves deep in the midst of Lukan writing and theology and the journey continues. We have again a Sabbath controversy; a doozy this time!! Jesus comes to a Pharisee’s house who is a leader in the community. He couldn’t have just gone to the “lowly Pharisee or the lowest one on the “totem pole,” but he went to the one where he had been invited. Evidently, this Pharisee leader was a little inquisitive about the nature and the ministry of Jesus. So he invited him to a wedding, to a “gamos,” a wedding banquet. Not just a simple meal, but a banquet that was magnificent.
Jesus entered the home, not with a real good track record for Sabbath altercations! For we have seen throughout the Gospel of Luke the trouble that Jesus has had “working” on the Sabbath.
This time, there is added incentive. Not only did Jesus come into the house of the Pharisee leader but he came in toting the Old Testament version of Emily Post’s Weddings for the Modern World! He came in “armed for battle,” but he came in with words about the working of God’s Kingdom veiled in the words of wedding banquet etiquette. You see, the clue to our message here that Luke uses is the word “banquet.” For in the New Testament, when the illusion or illustration is made that a banquet is being offered, it is a symbol of the reign of God! So once again, we see Luke’s work and intent to make sure that those who were listening were made aware that God’s kingdom will reign!
You see, in this wonderful story, Jesus comes with fresh eyes! He comes with fresh Emily Post eyes, but contained within those eyes is the message of Christ reigning supreme in a world that is confused with the hierarchy of their lives.
When Jesus enters the banquet, he immediately addresses the seating issue. Don't sit in the high place of honor when invited, in case someone who is more honorable of you is invited attends. Rather. sit in the lowly place in order that you may be invited up to the place of honor if the host sees fit. Those words were directed at the “attendees”. The next part is addressed to the host. Do not invite those around you in order that your guests will repay you! Invite them in the hope of hospitality. He goes as far as to say that you should not even invite those who would normally be on your guest list, but invite the crippled, the poor, the lame, those whom nobody else wants at their banquet. Maybe, even those whom we often times don’t want in the Kingdom of God! Maybe Jesus was onto something here. Addressing the basic need of what we do so readily may just need to be upset and turned upside down. Remember, he came to this wedding banquet, that was already set to perfection and then instructed them in how they should sit and arrange themselves in a “new proper order”! Jesus was all about the re-arranging of the order of life.
It is interesting that Luke does not beat around the bush on his Sabbath proclamations. He is upfront with Jesus’ words and actions, there is no resting point for those involved to really think about what is being required. The way in which we see Jesus move within this parable is illustrative in that God’s rule is primary.
Ronald Byars, Professor Emeritus of Preaching and Worship at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA, suggests it in this way, “God’s point of view matters more than our own, and more than the assessment of those in a position to turn the spotlight on us or away from us.”
Hence, Jesus, in this parable, as well as Luke and his directed message is adamant that our view be re-arranged in order that God is at the forefront of our lives and simply by being humble in the presence of God in Christ, we are able to view the world with new eyes and a new heart!
It’s interesting that we as humans in our daily lives look for that order! When was the last time you went to a wedding reception (banquet) and didn’t look for a name plate to tell you where you were to sit? Maybe the times are changing and the “open table” rule now fits, but there are places of honor and prestige.
Jesus was not concerned with the places of honor in human life. He was only concerned with the presence and place of God in our lives.
Therefore, that should be our concern as well! That in the midst of our lives when we are so sure about the “order” in which people are to sit and things are to be placed, our lives are turned upside down and we are reminded that we truly are not in control of how our banquets are to be run, it is then, and only then, that we can live humbly in the midst of our God and learn where we are to sit in the heavenly banquet!
AMEN & AMEN