Luke 14:12-14 shows Jesus sitting at a banquet prepared by a religious leader. Jesus starts a discussion about who the leader could invite to his next dinner. He tells him that maybe it would be good idea to not always invite those whom he knows will return the favor and hence keep the circle of recognition going: ie you invite me, I invite you, you invite me, I invite you. Maybe instead it would be a great idea to invite those who can’t pay you back…you know…those people who are poor, homeless, lame and just not part of the high society.
I have read over this passage several times and actually have preached on it many times too. But this time God opened my eyes to see something that carried much more weight than I had seen in the past.
In verse 13 Jesus says (paraphrased), “Hey man, listen up…when you host an elaborate meal invite those who can’t pay you back.”
Did you catch what he was saying. Jesus was basically saying that when you premeditate a banquet, when you think a month earlier that you will be hosting a meal and sending out invitations and then going out and buying the food and preparing the meal. When you set the table and pick out the wine. Do this in such a way that you are preparing the table for the elite crowd you usually invite, but don’t invite them. Prepare the meal, pick out the wine and set the table with creativity and thought and your finest, even when you are inviting those who cannot pay you back.
Do we do this? When was the last time you were serving at a soup kitchen for the homeless and the table was set with the best crystal and china and silverware? Whenever I have been involved in serving the down and out we get out our best paper plate, paper cups and plastic forks set on a clothe-less picnic table in a non decorated cement floor room where the servers are standing behind the counter slopping the meal onto the plates as the marginalized shuffle through the line and sit alone but together on the bench seats where only “they” are relegated to.
I know we don’t mean anything bad by this treatment…but I don’t think what we are doing is what Jesus had in mind. The next time we serve our community at Epic Life Church, in the Garden or at One Cup, let’s bring out the best we have and “host an elaborate meal” in Jesus’ name.