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Summary: This is God's work, and the order of priority in God's kingdom.

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TABLE ETIQUETTE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Luke 14:1; Luke 14:7-14

One Sabbath, one of the chief Pharisees gave Jesus the courtesy of a dinner invitation. Jesus courteously accepted. Somewhat discourteously, the Pharisees were keeping their eye on Jesus (Luke 14:1).

It was on this occasion, as Jesus observed the unseemly jostle for place amongst His fellow guests, that Jesus told them “a parable” (Luke 14:7).

This “parable” addressed the immediate problem of table manners in wisdom terms familiar from Proverbs 25:6-7, but was recognized by at least one of Jesus’ hearers in the context of the great feast of the kingdom of God (Luke 14:15).

The force of the argument is summed up in the reversal of roles indicated in Luke 14:11, which both abases the arrogant and elevates the humble. This is God’s work, and the order of priority in God’s kingdom.

We hear it in the Psalms (Psalm 138:6).

We hear it in the wisdom books (Proverbs 29:23).

We hear it in Mary’s song (Luke 1:51-52).

We hear it from Jesus (Luke 18:14).

It is echoed in the letters of the New Testament (James 4:6).

Perhaps the greatest demonstration of this reversal comes from Jesus Himself (Philippians 2:6-11).

In the incarnation Jesus gathered our manhood into the Godhead. He willingly partook of death on our behalf, ‘even the death of the cross’ – and God exalted Him to the place where He now receives honour from all.

And this supreme example of humility is one that we must aspire to reflect in our own lives (Philippians 2:5)!

Jesus also addressed His host in no uncertain terms, in words which turned the whole social etiquette upside down (Luke 14:13), reflecting His own priorities in the establishment of the kingdom of God.

“The poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” are those whom Jesus has favoured in His own kingdom ministry, and who will be granted a place at the great feast (cf. Luke 14:21).

At the very least, this is calling the church to the duty of open hospitality, without distinguishing between one group as opposed to another (Hebrews 13:2).

In like manner Jesus tells His host that for all the good that he does for those who cannot reciprocate, he will receive recompense at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14). This is not justification by works, but the reward for works which arise from faith (Titus 3:8).


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