“One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?’ But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.
Then he asked them, ‘If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?’ And they had nothing to say.
When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’
Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’”
This parable presents a picture of hospitality. In anticipating the celebration of Easter, we are reminded that Easter goes beyond bunnies, eggs, and candy. Easter is God throwing a party for the lost who have been found.
Meals are a great way to relate everyday life and the kingdom of God. God gives us mealtimes to receive His good gifts, but also to love and honor others at the table. When we “say grace” before a meal, we are acknowledging that we don’t deserve the gift.
Jesus uses the parable of the wedding feast to point out that many of the religious leaders at the time were ignoring this key preparation for receiving God’s gifts. How it relates to us today as we are preparing our hearts during Lent, is to take time to recognize that we don't deserve the best gift that God gave us in the form of His Son. Once we realize what we have been given, we will be quick to show compassion and invite others to this table.
After His resurrection, Jesus revealed Himself to two of His disciples at a meal: “When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’” (Luke 24:30-32, ESV) Do we recognize the stranger at our tables? (Matthew 25:37)
How can we be hospitable to others when we fail to be content and thankful for daily provisions in our lives?
Create a maze where the goal is to arrive at the wedding feast. Along the way, create places in the maze that you “cannot pass” until you have written down something you are thankful to God for and don’t deserve -- a good gift.
God, thank you for the best gift you have given us in Jesus. Help me to remember every time I take a bite of food or drink of water that every good gift I have comes from you. I want my heart to be soft and compassionate and aware of others who want to be invited to the table and come to know You as well.