Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 3 months ago

Unlikely Dinner Guests

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Christian McArthur

What is the ethic of the Kingdom of Godanother way of asking this question? How are people like us who claim to beChristians supposed to live, and once we identify that ethic thatway of life? What is our motivation after reading this text, which seems alittle bit disconnected, I will admit, perhaps those aren't the firstquestions that come to mind about ethics and about our motivation forliving in ethical life. But hopefully I will convince you atleast I'll attempt from the text that this is actually exactly what Jesus hason his mind. Even if no one is asking this evening, as we continue in theparables, we come to a grouping of parables and teaching that do seem alittle bit disconnected. We have this really Awkward Dinner Party. We havethis awkward teaching. Jesus again seems to be trying to make people madon purpose, as we have seen before, and we find this strange parable and it does seem a bit disconnected. Ithink we can see one thing that is common throughout and that's a party in fact, as we continue through thenext through pair a few parables and Luke, particularly in Chapter Fifteen.We find that these parables and the next three all are about parties. We find the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the product Al Sonand Lord Willing Will Be Looking at those parables for the rest of themonth of August. We can call it a party August or something like that. Idon't know I have to come up with some branding for that, but in the meantime we have before us aparty, and we have before us this theme offeasting and partying. But this is an awkward party in this morning. I want to considerthis Awkward Party, I first considering this question of ethics andparticularly a kingdom ethic than as we look at the beginning. I think we'llfind that Jesus is giving us and certainly these dinner guests a picture of what it is to liveaccording to a kingdom ethic. Let's, let's take a look. The first offer we find in Luke.Fourteen for a bit of context this that Jesus has joined some Pharisees andparticularly particularly, has gone to the House of one of the chief Phariseeson the Sabbath and for US careful gospel readers. We should know thatsomething awkward is about to happen, because whenever Jesus gets togetherwith Pharisees something awkward happens, especially on the Sabbath andespecially when there's a sick guy present and that's exactly what we findhere, isn't it that Jesus on this Sabbath comes, and he heals someonewith dropsy and there's much that we could sayabout that other than for our purposes this evening to knowthat, at the beginning of our text, things are weird, things are awkward.Jesus has questioned the ethic of those sitting in front of him by healing onthe Sabbath. There is tension in the air...

...and within this tension, Jesus beginswith a parable, a specifically a parable directed atthe guests. The text tells us and verse seven. So what does he say? He sayswhen you are invited to a wedding feast, do not sit in a place of honor. That says he noticed that that'sexactly what people were doing, they were sitting in places of honor, so hesays: Don't don't do that now. I've visited some of your homes for dinner.I appreciate that and never has anyone directed me. You must sit here or move up to this seat here. That'snot something that at least in your home. So far, I've found to be overlycommon and our culture. We're not super concerned about where you sit at thedinner table, but that would not be the case here. How you knew someone's status in acertain group was their proximity to the host of the Party for those who were most honored at theparty. They would sit at the right and the left hand of the host for those whowere least honored at a particular party. They would be sitting thefurthest away from the host. You might recall, James and John fromMark Ten requesting that Jesus when you enter into your kingdom. Let us sit atyour right and left hand, and it wasn't just that they likedJesus company, though that might be the case they're asking to be honored, andwe know that by Jesus rebuke, don't we he says: That's not how my kingdomoperates. What are you to do? It's those whohumble themselves that will be exalted, those who even take on the form of aservant who would be the least honored at a dinner party? Well, that's! What's going on here,these guests are wanting to honor themselves by moving up to the front of the dinnertable. This whole culture as we read the New Testament, is really build todevelop on an economy of honor and shame, and that's so important tounderstand as we approach these texts that honor and shamet everything inthis culture. Now perhaps we don't quite understandwhat it's like to have particularly honorable seats at a dinner table, but I think we do understand in ourculture status me. There seems to be so much that goeson in our economy, but speaks of status. Our culture is full of metrics forbeing able to judge one's status. These usually have to do with money orappearance, big houses, Nice cars, education, level, expensiveclothes, all indicators in our society of how much one is to be respected. Our culture is full of people who aretrying to appear more successful than they are. We even have a phrase for it,keeping up with the Joneses or you do whatever you can to make sureyou have an appearance of status. That's just a little bit greater thanyour neighbor, so we understand this culture, eventhough it might not be around the dinner table. We get it to fail to keep up with the Joneses isto admit some type of inferiority. Even if we don't quite understand whatthat inferiority is. We still know it to be true. Well, that's! What's going on here inthis text, whether rushing for the best...

...seat at the table or maxing out aspending limit at macy's status in the appearance of honor are common to allhuman societies. We understand it. The rat race, climbing the corporate ladder keepingup with the Jones, is all phrases that encapsulate this idea of seeking status. Oh, this is the common mindset to thesedinner guests, but, contrary to this, Jesus presentsthem with an ethic. That's completely opposite than what they have in theirminds. He says every one who exalts himselfwill be humbled. Everyone who humbles himself will be exalted, so he says instead of going to the bestseat, find the worst seat, and so when, when you won't be embarrassed, no onecan tell you to sit further away heck. It might turn out that you get to siteven closer, but the point is that you would walkand humbled considering yourself last a that is the ethic of this kingdomthat Jesus presents well. Jesus continues to not only showthis ethic for those who were invited to the party but to the host himself.It says in verse, Twelve, that Jesus turns his attention to the man who hadinvited him and he explains a very similarprinciple. Doesn't he he says when you give a banquet, do not invite your friends or your family or rich neighbors, then other words don't invite peoplethat can reciprocate the invitation now for many of you, these are exactlythe people that you invited to lunch today. So if that's offensive, I'msorry, this is just what Jesus says. So my apologies, but Jesus isn't just getting it hangingout with people. Is he again this? Is this thought of honor and shame these guests just like this host are seeking aposition of honor and society in this case, inviting people who could invitethem to invite him to a similar banquet. You would get reciprocal invitationsand, and together you would be rising the social ladder a first centuryPalestine. Then that's what's going on here. Isn't it? We have a similar concept in thebusiness world. You you take someone out to you really want to purchasesomething from you or that you want to partner with in business and you wineand dine them. We say you show them the nicest dry aged beefat the nicest to restaurants with the best wine list, so that maybe they willpartner with you. He get them to o you something so thatthey might repay. We understand this concept, we Jesus says: No, that's that's not how it works in mykingdom instead invite the poor invite the cripple, invite the lame and vite the blind all people with no social status, a people with no honor to return people who could never repay you foryour invitation, there's nothing of profit for you toinvite this type of people, and yet...

Jesus says this is how my economy works. This is how the ethic of my kingdomplays out. Then he says this to both guests andhost at this dinner party. Every one at this point should beequally offended here. He's highlighted everyone he who humbles himself will be exalted and he who exalts himself will be humbled the first. We see this ethic and then it moves to another pair o oneand exclusion. If you will an unlikely exclusion, let's, let's see what wemean by that again, the situation is tense. I keep saying that, but, but Iwant you to understand it's a weird tense situation, so tense that that theguests are kind of feeling, some condemnation that that some guy wantsto announce something that will ease the tension right and we see it hereand Verse Fifteen. He kind of says you know Jesus, that's a great teaching. Weappreciate that. That's that's a lot of fun thanks for being here, but hey Iwant to propose a toast. Blessed is every one who will eat bread in the Kingdom ofGod now would seem, as guy really wants tobreak the tension, for his statement gives away twoassumptions. The text highlights on this listener is very aware thatthere is more at stake than dinner etiquette. He gets that Jesus is talking about theKingdom of God he's talking about something muchgreater than the dinner. That's placed right in front of him. The other thing that he seems tounderstand and perhaps wrongfully so is that despite Jesus Teaching, this guyis pretty certain that he and all the other guests will be included in this great banquetto come so much so that he raises a toast. He says thanks Jesus for that teachingit's a little awkward but hey here's something we can all agree on blessed is he who, at that feast will eat bread inthe Kingdom of God? It's likely that he has in mind the great feast that Isaiahhimself prophesied Jase says in and twenty five that onthis mountain, the ward of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of richfood, a feast of well aged wine of rich food,full of marrow of aged wine, well refined the sounds like a good meal.Doesn't it and he, the Lord, will swallow up on this mountain thecovering that has cast over all peoples, the Vale that has spread over allnations. Here, I sea prophesize of this great day when the Lord will bringabout the consummation of the eternal kingdom, and it will be marked by afeast. But this feast will not just be for thepeople of Israel will it. He says it will be for all nations allpeoples Isai uses the Hebrew word that is usedfor to refer to the gentiles, the Goyim, all of the people. The veil will be lifted from their eyesand all will be invited to this great banquet. The problem is: Is that at this pointin history is Jesus is telling this story. The Jews of the specially upperclass have assumed that that's actually not what's going on the banquet is forthem it's for those who have shownthemselves worthy to be there,...

...and this guy who speaks up seems to believe that he will be there,as well as the rest of the guests. Here's something we can all agree on.It will be a great day when we are all eating bread and the Kingdom of God. Oh Jesus responds very indirectly. Hesays, Oh, that reminds me of a story. He says there was once this guy whothrew a big banquet and he sent out a ton of invitations. Now this would be kind of standardprotocol. At this time in history, you would send out invitations and peoplewith R S V P and then, when the feast was ready, you would send your servantto ring the dinner Bell to say hey it's time. So this is a common practice. At ThisDay and age people would respond whether or notthey could come, and then they would await for the servant to come and letthe people know that the feast was ready and that's what we find here, butin this case the sermon goes out to announce that dinner is ready and people start coming up with excuses, not necessarily bad excuses, butexcuses, none, the less I bought a field. I need to take a look.I bought five yoke of Oxen. I need to examine them. I've married a wife. Ican't make it all the people that were invited. The text tells us those that originally responded to thisR Svore now bowing out for other options. Then this problem is likely compoundingI mean no one wants to go to a party that no one is going to so as the guestlist begins to fall apart. The guest list begins to fall apart. This would be a great shame to any host. The Barbecue is going to meet is almostready and now no one wants to attend. The host's answer to the problem isinteresting. He says, fill a banquet hall. Forget them fill it up, go and invite everyone sothat there will be no room for those original guests and to make matters more awkward. Jesus, it would seem. has those sittingaround him as the aim of what he's talking about those people in his parable that wereoriginally invited, all those that he is dining with, and we know this in verse. Twenty fourJesus turns to the guests at the Pharisees House, those who assume thatthey will eat bread in the Kingdom of God, and he says, for I tell you thatyou was plural. We would say where I'm from, for I tell Y'all none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet. That's his response to the guy who says:Won't it be great when we're eating and the Kingdom of God he says all those folks who have beeninvited who didn't show up, they won't be eating. In my kingdom Imean this is an unlikely exclusion. Isn't it all those who are wants orsvept comment- and I think we can see here that he's speaking of the Jews, atleast these Jews, who are rejecting Jesus, those who are invited fromgenerations past called to be part of...

...the Covenant Community called to bepart of this grace great feast, but now that the king is here, they're not interested in this kind ofKing, the dinner announcement is going outand they're coming up with excuses, because Jesus doesn't seem to be thekind of dinner host that they're interested in Jesus says. None of those men who wereinvited shall taste my banquet stark words. So my question that I put before us atthe beginning: How is this all connected? How do all of these stories this dinnerparty, this parable? How does it all come together? This teaching of akingdom ethic now this parable about this exclusion of the Jews? Where isthe link? I think we look closely together thatLuke himself gives it to us, let's, let's consider and when I think we find this link isnot in the exclusion but in the inclusion, the unlikely inclusion andthat's where we will end our time together for the next few moments. Ifwe look back at the Parabo after the excuses begin pouring in whatdo we find Verse Twenty One? So the servant came and reported thesethings to his master. That folks were coming up with excuses, but the master of the house becameangry and said to the servant, go out quickly to the streets and lanes of thecity and bring in who the poor the crippled. The blind and the lame. This dinner hosts in the parableinvites all the same people, using all the exact words that that Jesus told usto invite that Jesus told the dinner host and the previous narrative toinvite uses all the same language. That should be a clue whenever we're readingthe scripture, when we see repetition like that, it should cause us to stopand think the poor crippled, blind and lame. Skinner host invites all these samepeople, not the rich with the poor. Using these exact same words- and Ithink here it is that we find the link to what seems to be a bit of adisjointed passage. What we find here is that Jesus isexactly the kind of dinner host who invites all the wrong people. He is the kind of God who doesn'tconsider what his guests can give him in return, but invites people who could neverreciprocate and not only the poor and the crippledand the blind in the lane, but it goes on. Doesn't it the servant? Comes backafter inviting all these people and says, there's still seats left? What does the master say? Go out to the highways? Go out to the hedges and compel peopleto come in that my house may be full. Most commentators agree that this is areference to the inclusion of the gentiles. Not only are the Jewishrejects invited, but he's going to all nations and he's saying fill my banquetwith people from all tongues and from all tribes and from all nations. This host wants a huge party. The seemingly disconnected passage tells us that...

Jesus himself follows the ethic that heteaches. We know this to be true, he'sconsistent light when he invites people to his in timesfeast. He does not invite those that can repay. He goes out to the highwaysand the edges to the poor houses, to the prisons, to the prostitutes to thePublicans. Those are the kind of people we've found when we've read theparables, isn't it to the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame whohave no way of returning the favor of his invitation, and he compels them to come and enjoythe feast. But but this is not the only thing that this parable tells us. Ifthis is all true, if this unlikely invitation it's true, if this is how Jesus Works,then it tells us something about ourselves. Doesn't it it tells us thatthose who are included in his kingdom, those who call themselves Christians,are the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lane. We are the social and ethnic outcasts, we all those from the highways and thehedges from the poor houses from the prisons, the prostitutes in the Publicans. That's who makes up this party. We arethe sinners that Christ invites to his feast and to make this whole thing finallyconnect. I hope it is only when we understand thatthat's who we are the poor, the cripple the lame, the blind that we have any ability to then followthe ethic that Christ gives us when we understand who we are, that we are those of no social standing that we could never repay Jesus for hisinvitation. It is much easier to walk into thebanquet and sit in the back row. Isn't it we don't need to put our ICSE ves in aplace of honor we're just glad to have gotten in because we're not worried about thateconomy anymore? We know where the outcasts we'll takewhatever sea you'll give us the power to be able to fulfill thatethic is and knowing who Jesus invites sinners like us and at the same time, when weunderstand that we are in not by our own merit or social standingor ability to repay, we are free to invite others who are poor, cripple blind and lamethose with most social standing, those ethnic outcasts, thosefrom the highways, the hedges, the poor houses, the prisons, the prostitutesand the publicans people just like us. It is much easier to invite thosepeople when we know that that's just who we are no longer do we have to attempt itclimbing all way up some social ladder in the Kingdom of God. By holding thisreputation by associating with the right people, we can associate with the kind ofpeople that Jesus associated with, because that's who we are sinners redeemed. You have no need to maintain orincrease our position in his kingdom, because our position and our invitationis sure...

...not based on our credentials but on those of Christ. Jesus whopurchased us with his own blood who signed our invitation with it isfinished you're in and because of that, we no longer haveto maintain a reputation in order to get in, and this is the motivation for aChristian ethic for a kingdom ethic of self giving for the sake of others, because we have no need any more tomake something of ourselves. Christ does that for us, we are freed from the slavery ofsalvation by status. We are free to love, to live and to give all lives for thesake of others, because he first loved and lived and gave his life for oursake. If you are here to day and you believe that Christ died for your sins,you are in and you are free and this bawit is for you. You are one who Jesushimself says: Don't sit in the back comes so to my table because you're anhonored guest at my feast, that is who we are, and because of that we can be free tohonor others by giving of ourselves. Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom andknowledge of God. How insearchable are his judgments? Howinscrutable his ways that his son would die and rise again for you for me thatwe might be invited to his feast, hey men. I man, let's pray together.

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