You first, please

You first, please

This post is part of the ON THE WAY sermon series at St Mark’s Anglican Church, Casino July/October 2022

Luke 14:1,7–14

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. 

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 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. 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. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 

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 neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Another week, another classic gospel scene.

Jesus is making his way south to Jerusalem, as Luke tells the tale.

As some of my colleagues in the Jesus Seminar put it, he was “eating and drinking his way across Galilee.”

He goes to dinner at the home of a Pharisee. Not just any old Pharisee, but the home of a leader of the Pharisees.

Everyone is watching him.

And Jesus is watching them.

What a lovely evening they all had.

Spare a thought for poor old, Luke.

He just failed Synoptic Gospels in the Bachelor of Theology (M.Div. for Americans) at your local seminary.

Jesus did not tell them a parable.

Jesus gave them a very straightforward piece of spiritual advice.

No parable here.

(That will come a bit later in chapter 14 …)

Stop it!

Stop looking for the best spot.

Do not grab the best seat.

Make other people’s success your happiness.

Yes, it is that simple.

Not a parable, but a simple piece of spiritual wisdom.

Invest in others’ success.

There is more than enough to go around.

God’s love, that is.

No need to hoard the blessings.

Let them run through our fingers to make other lives better.

No need to fear a shortage of blessings.

We shall not miss out just because others thrive.

If only we believed that!

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