Summary: A message on how judgmentalism, pride and selfishness are unwelcome at God’s table.
Luke Series #67 June 02, 2002
Title: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?
Introduction: Welcome to New Life in Christ. This morning we are continuing in Chapter 14 of the Book of Luke in our verse-by-verse teaching series out of that book.
Read Luke 14:1-14
In the 1967 movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” a young woman named Joey Drayton brings home her fiancé, John Way Prentice to meet her parents. The parents had always thought of themselves as being without prejudice but are shocked to discover that their daughter’s fiancé is black, and that this disturbs them. This movie, which revolves around a dinner party, exposes the tendency to think that we are something that we are not. We often have flaws that go unnoticed until they are revealed in certain situations. This dinner reveals the parent’s character flaws and leads them to re-examine the condition and attitudes of their own hearts.
Something similar happens in our Bible text today. Jesus comes to dinner but instead of polite table talk, this dinner conversation probably causes those present to wish that they had brought more Rolaids.
Jesus actions, parable, and exhortation exposed the character flaws of those present. The Pharisees, who are what we would describe as “church-going people,” thought of themselves as spiritual and godly but like in the aforementioned movie, the truth will come out. Jesus exposed three serious character flaws at this dinner: judgmentalism, pride, and selfishness.
This incident was written down in the Bible so that Jesus followers today would be alert to the same faults in themselves. Speaking for myself, I found that as I thought on this passage of Scripture, that in many ways I was guilty of the very character traits that Jesus revealed as unacceptable at this dinner 2,000 years ago.
As I expound on this text verse by verse, I believe that some of you might find the same faults to be true of your own lives. If you have already determined that you are not guilty of these things, then you have overestimated yourself and are guilty of the second flaw, which is pride. What I have been diplomatically referring to as flaws, the Bible calls “sin.”
Before we look at the details of this text verse by verse, I need to explain the setting for this narrative. This is important because the setting or motif in which in an event takes place is an essential part of the moral or spiritual truth being communicated. As I already noted, the setting for this teaching of Jesus was a formal dinner. The thematic element of a dinner is very prominent throughout the story. The healing takes place at dinner in verses 1-6, Jesus uses the parable of a wedding banquet or dinner in verses 7-11, and then Jesus talks about inviting others to a luncheon or dinner in verses 12-14. After this, in verses 15-24, which I will cover next week, Jesus gives the parable of the Great Banquet or dinner. This thematic element of a dinner is in itself important to the practical message that the story is communicating.
Why is the dinner or banquet theme so prominent? What is being communicated by this setting? To answer these questions one must understand the significance of eating together in Jesus’ day.
Marcus Borg, the New Testament scholar explains that eating together in Jesus’ day was very significant. Not only were there rules about what to eat and how to prepare it, but also rules stating with whom one could eat. Eating together meant mutual acceptance. The Jewish leaders, Pharisees, would not eat with someone who was impure. No decent person would eat with an outcast. Source: unknown
Remember how people complained because Jesus “ate with sinners?” Why did they get upset? Because to eat with someone was indicative of friendship or a healthy relationship, so by eating with sinners Jesus was showing himself to be a “friend of sinners.” This association between eating with someone and a healthy relationship with that person was true also of a healthy relationship with God. This is why in many of the parables and metaphors of the Bible, those who are in or have returned to a healthy relationship with God are said to be invited to his table or participants in his banquets.
In some sense, we still associate having dinner with someone with friendship or a healthy relationship. In a recent Candid Camera episode they would seat a complete stranger, who happened to be the candid actor, with an unsuspecting family eating dinner at a restaurant. Of course the family was very uncomfortable and often unwilling to continue with the dinner. Why? We have no problem with a stranger sitting next to us on a plane or at a ballgame, but at dinner they will not be welcome because they are not in a healthy relationship.