The passage today is about humility. It is one of the many attributes that those of us who follow Jesus should emulate. But the passage goes on to talk about generosity, compassion and social justice.
The setting for the story is a dinner party. Earlier in the passage jesus has helaed someone who is sick so its not an ordinary dinner party! The Pharisees have criticised Jesus for healing the man on the Sabbath, the holy day. How ridiculous we might say! The religious authorities don’t care that Jesus has healed somebody but care he has broken their laws about the Sabbath. This is legalism at its best. The next two stories are about humility which should be a characteristic we exhibit! Sadly most Jews at the time were more interested in status than humility. Are we the same? Do we just invite our friends and family to our parties? Gods way is different.
So the seat of honour is next to the person who has given the party. People often use such events to benefit themselves in some way. Its similar to the way we approach God. Do we come with humility before God? Do we understand what we are dealing with? Don’t show yourself up by assuming that you are the most important guest. It could be embarrassing. Honour at that time was determined by age too! So tsit where you are least noticed! If you promote yourself you will fall! And God will cause it! Whereas if you are humble God will raise you up. So we are reminded of the beattitudes in Matthew 5v5. “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth” and the Magnificat Luke 1v52; “ He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and exalted the lowly”. So this is not a one off passage it is a theme of Gods attitude and actions.
It's easy to invite a friend for dinner, but not so easy to invite someone like the beggar. And the unclean man wont invite you back! But God will repay it. Generous hospitality toward the stranger fulfils the law and secures a person's righteous standing in the sight of God. At the resurrection of the righteous (Dan.12:2-3) we will be judged like sheep and goats and receive blessing or cursing, the separation of the righteous from the unrighteous.
Humility is just one of the spiritual fruits of being a Christian. In the letter to the Galatians Paul writes: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (5:22, 23).
But how do we naturally exhibit these fruits of the Spirit? By grounding our life in three actions. Firstly by reading and absorbing the Bible, especially the gospels. Really understanding the importance of Jesus teaching, so it becomes part of us. (read Mark, note the commands of Jesus: Mark 1v15.) Secondly by praying, on your own or with others, out loud or in silence. Thirdly by meeting with other followers of Jesus so you can encourage and support one another in your Christian journey. Nobody said our journey would be easy or linear. Only age is linear! Our life journey will have ups and downs and to have Gods peace we need to stand apart, to take stock, to listen to God.
Everyone at a gym are all united in one aim, to get fitter, and they come often and they do get fitter. In our churches we need to have the same attitude. To be like Jesus we have to learn humility and generosity. We need to soak ourselves in Gods priorities by reading the gospels and praying for others and we need to help one another, encourage one another. We need to practice radical love not just for our family and friends but for strangers. This is what being a Christian is about. We are not called to be a holy huddle but to practice what Jesus taught us or our words are meaningless.