Christianity is a socially acceptable religion, if you don’t read the Bible. If you read the Bible, the cultural understanding of Christianity and the prescribed actions of Christianity are sometimes light years apart. I think this passage will agree with me.
Let’s read the parable Jesus spoke to the Pharisee who invited Him into His house.
12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
Questions to Consider
Who were the audience?
One man was delivered this short story, and yet I think the entire party may have overheard.
When did the Lord give this parable?
This parable was given near the end of a period of withdrawal from Galilee, approx. 6 months prior to entering into Jerusalem for the last time. Jesus was attending a supper, being invited by a ruler of the Pharisees. (Luke 14:1)
Where did the Lord teach the parable?
As mentioned earlier, the Lord was at a supper, in the house of a Pharisee.
Why did the Lord give this message?
The Lord was in the home of a Pharisee, with a bunch of Pharisees attending, watching and judging Him. He had healed a man with the dropsy (See my post on Swelling Opposition for more background)
It doesn’t appear to be clear to me of any known initiator of this parable, other than the situation the Lord found Himself in. Often the parables are told in response to a question, or because of an obvious misunderstanding. This parable seems to be given as a general teaching, yet the Lord is in the midst of Pharisees, known to be considered favored of God due to their wealth and high standing in society.
I understand a generic Pharisee believed that monetary success proved God’s favor. Sinners received poverty, sickness and weakness. To be right with God was to have health, wealth and happiness.
What was the message for the original audience?
For the master of the ceremonies, the host of the party, the message was clear. The home was full of his friends and acquaintances, and if the man with the palsy somehow was included in the party, I fear it may have been reluctantly, in order to entrap the Messiah.
The one with sickness, the one who was a “sinner” was a tool of the Pharisee.
Jesus turned the tables and witnessed against this belief in two points
- Don’t invite your equals, peers or those who are close to you
- Invite those who are the rejects, the sinners, the ones who seemingly have been rejected by God
- Don’t look for temporal repayment.
- The doctrine the Pharisees believed was such that God’s love had to constantly renewed with monetary blessings, instead of simply having your life “hid in God”.
In other words, don’t suck up to those who can repay your friendship, but serve those who can’t (or won’t).
What is the message for us today?
Can we invite every poor soul to a party? Can we care for all the crippled and blind? For one soul who is in need, to accept them and give care, even for a short time, fulfills the intent of this story.
As we go about our daily hectic lives, it is difficult to slow down and care for those less fortunate than us.
The first issue that I need to address is my attitude towards my brother, the ones who may have fallen on hard times, struggled with an addiction or sickness, been burdened with a disability. My attitude towards them is to be of acceptance, to see them as loved by God, and not rejected.
The second concern is the practical outworking of this story. Wisdom is needed to understand who to show mercy to, who to bend to and to help. There is a wisdom that my wife often reminds me of in that we are not to cast our pearls to the swine, and this is the rub for me.
Our expression of love is to be with wisdom. Rejection of the downcast is not acceptable towards anyone who is in need, yet the application of our resources needs to be applied with wisdom. Many times the mercy may be provided to those who reject it in the end, but that is not to be our goal. The expression of mercy is an end to itself for it reflects, in a small way, the way of the Master.
May we have grace to express mercy to those less fortunate than ourselves, and find someone even this week to be a blessing to.
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