This parable has provided a guiding principle for me for years and in many areas, but especially when I attend any business, social or religious meeting. Sure I am of the type that holds back, and this teaching tends to reinforce that thinking.
Yet this parable speaks of honor amongst others, and the authority of others when you seek your own honor, that may end up as shame! For you see, there will always be someone more distinguished than you in the room!
Let’s read the parable.
7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in 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 table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Questions to Consider
Who were the audience?
Jesus spoke this parable to a group of party-goers. These party-goers were jockeying for a place of honor. (Quick question – Who deserved the place of honor?)
With Jesus seeing this behavior in this social environment it seems like a story that would definitely kill a good mood. I don’t think His intentions were such, (who am I to know that!) but the pride and arrogance that Jesus taught against must have been stifling. Imagine a group of successful religious leaders mentally searching out the room to find advantage over others and to attain for self glory. This is so upside down to the gospel we know, yet religion breeds this competition.
When did the Lord give this parable?
This parable was taught within 3 months of entering Jerusalem on His final week.
Where did the Lord teach the parable?
This parable was taught while the Lord and His disciples were in Perea.
Why did the Lord give this message?
As I mentioned above, this parable might have come off as a bit of a kill-joy for certain of the party-goers, but the message was definitely modelled for the situation Jesus and His disciples found themselves in.
What was the message for the original audience?
I suppose the message for the original audience is obvious. Status climbing attitudes, or as I heard it stated in Quebec when we lived there, to be “stepping on heads” was doomed to result in shame.
Self promotion brings shame. Self love and self focus results in glory for someone else. A very uncomfortable position to be in for the one who is so proud of his state of being!
As an aside, this parable speaks to the self love movement within the modern church, or which you may be interested in reading What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – Matthew 22:39.
Humility brings honor. Self humbling is the prescribed method to find your worth, and in the midst of it, honor will attach to you, though you will find it an uncomfortable condition! A truly humble one seeks the blessing of another and not himself. When honor comes, the humble tend to be uncomfortable with it.
What is the message for us today?
Note that we are not to wait to be humbled. We are to initiate this attitude. When you feel pride welling up in your heart about all the good things you have done, and can compare favorably with others, give yourself a kick in the head. Sure you may be successful in some area, yet it is the Lord who has provided you the opportunity, skill set, energy, and desire to do the work.
Any many others are exactly the same.
And you nor I can judge properly, because, at least for me, I always emphasize my goodness and all others their badness, therefore skewing the truth. No, the safe attitude is of humility, of considering yourself less that your brother, even less than all your brothers and sisters.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Someone else may exalt you. Give them the opportunity. If I exalt myself, no-one else can!
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.