My wife and I enjoy having guests over for a meal. Of course, the purpose of sharing a meal is much more than the consumption of food. It is the context for the expression of love and acceptance. As we saw in chapter 13, meals will play an increasingly important part in Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom.
Chapter 14 opens with Jesus being invited to a meal in the home of a Pharisee (v. 1). Jesus again raises the issue of proper observance of the Sabbath, and the silence of the Pharisees (vv. 4, 6) shows their continued refusal to see what God is doing in Jesus.
Jesus then uses the example of meals to teach an important lesson, not just about humility, but also salvation (vv. 7–11). To choose the best seat at a dinner, next to the host, is to display pride. Clearly Jesus is talking not just about human relationships, but also about how we see ourselves before God. We are gravely mistaken if we believe we deserve to sit next to God. Salvation is by grace to the humble and undeserving. Once we understand this, then we will love and accept others who are undeserving (vv. 12–14).
The final parable paints a powerful picture of the history of salvation (vv. 15–24). It is the story of a man who invites guests to his banquet. Initially, they accept the invitation, but when the banquet is ready, they make excuses. It appears the excuses are flimsy. You examine a field or cattle before you buy them. Being newly married does not stop you from attending any social functions. The master then invites outsiders to fill his banquet table.
The guests who have been invited first are the Jewish people, who largely refuse God’s invitation into His kingdom. The poor and those on the country lanes are the sinners and the Gentiles, who warmly receive salvation.
While this is a parable, meals are still powerful expressions of love. It is not surprising that the Lord Jesus commands us to keep having a meal together as a way to remember His death for us (Luke 22:14–20). Church meals should be important contexts both for deepening our life together and for welcoming outsiders into our midst.
Meals are an important way to express Christian love. How important are these kinds of meals in your family life? How about in your church life?
What flimsy excuses do people make today for not accepting God’s offer of salvation?