April 20, 2012

Luke 14.1-24

One Sabbath when he went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him.

And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy.

And Jesus spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?"

But they were silent.

Then he took him and healed him, and let him go. And he said to them, "Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well, will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?

And they could not reply to this.

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor-- saying to them, "When you are invited by anyone to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited; and He who invited you both will come and say to you, 'Give place to this man.' And then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, 'Friend, go up higher.' For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled; and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite only your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they invite you in return, and you be repaid.

"But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind-- and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

When one of those at table with him heard this, he said, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!"

But he said to him, "A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Come, for all is now ready!'

"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, "I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. I pray you, have me excused.

"And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. I pray you, have me excused.

"And another said, "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

"So the servant came and reported this to his master.

"Then the householder in anger said to his servant, 'Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city; and bring in the poor, and maimed, and blind and lame.

"And the servant said, 'Sir, what you have commanded has been done; and still there is room!'

"And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.

"'For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet!'"

1 Comments:

At 12:35 a.m., Blogger forrest said...

"They were watching him." Not a relaxed dining experience, here.

It seems pretty clear that Jesus was invited with the objective of "putting him in his place," ie The places of honor were being taken up by local worthies, and Jesus was supposed to scramble for one of the seats, obviously not for the first place he would automatically receive if his status as a prophet were being acknowledged.

"Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" That is, in Israel after God has set things to rights. But Jesus has been going around saying that that time is already here. Implying that the Messianic Feast is what's happening in his company. Not in the company of people who invite a popular holy man for their patronizing entertainment-- but those who join him on his terms.

So the final dinner parable is about that situation. The behavior of the fictional guests is bizarre; it only makes sense if they want to shame their host in much the same way that the guests at the real banquet want to shame Jesus.

It isn't a matter of people "being all taken up by worldly cares." Someone who has just bought a field has already looked at it, thoroughly. Nobody has bought oxen without first examining every hair, hoof, and tooth. Preferring the company of a woman-- even a beloved woman-- is not polite behavior in 1st Century Israel.

Since the host in this parable is God-- the guests' behavior is senselessly offensive; no one in his right mind would deliberately act that way. But that is how Jesus implies they are acting, in refusing to honor him.

As a result of being unable to recognize Spirit at work outside the official channels...

And who is being invited to God's banquet?-- the lowest of the low, the most wretched, the kind of people excluded from polite company. There should be no need for God to lock the gates against the latecomers (as a host would customarily do, once a banquet actually started)-- They're going to exclude themselves. (Sometimes very hard not to do, yes?)

 

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