Summary: Table Manners and Christian Ethos
On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9 and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” -----------
As many of you know, under Kern’s leadership and the collaboration of several teachers and volunteers, we had a very successful VBS this past week. We had more kids than we expected and on the second day, Cassy complained to me about three of the kids that she thinks was not fun to be with. She thought they were rude and they had no manners. I asked her who they were, and then I found out they were unchurched kids. So I told her that you need to be patient because they didn’t grow up in a church and they have never learned the love of God and the teaching of Jesus Christ. So they didn’t know how to behave. They don’t have the right manners because they didn’t get the opportunity to learn the love of God that enables us to love others.
In this morning’s scripture lesson, Jesus was eating with a dinner party with group of people who didn’t have the table manners. They were obviously not his followers and have never learned the ethos of Christianity that is completely counterculture totally against the common wisdom. There was a distinct difference between the followers of Jesus Christ who have learned from him and those of the dominant culture of Jesus time. Even in today’s society, there is always a difference between kids that grow up in the church and those that are not. Clarence mentioned that he likes to be at the Christian camps and conferences because there he is with a special group of people that is better behaved full of love, peace, and joy than the rest of the world.
The scripture says, “On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.” Jesus was pretty much like a homeless; at least he made friends with the homeless and outcasts, and hung out with them. But he was invited to eat with the leaders of the Pharisees because the Bible says, “they were watching him closely.” Jesus’ counterculture ethos has drawn the attention of the religions leaders, even though he often hung out with the low class people.
How is Jesus teaching counterculture? Even at the very beginning of his famous Sermon on the Mount, he taught that “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” That’s already counterculture because the culture says, “Blessed are the rich and famous.” Isn’t it the same in our dominant culture today? They had a hard time understanding the beatitudes those days, and many of us still have a hard time understanding them today.
So the religious leaders invited him to the social gatherings because they were watching him closely. But who is watching who closely? If you read the gospels, you would notice that whenever Jesus is at a dinner party, he always turn himself into the center of attention, as if he is the host. This time the Bible says, he noticed how the guest chose the places of honor. In other words, he noticed the manner of those of the dominant culture, in which people are trying to get to the place of honor to make people think that they are important. So Jesus uses the opportunity to teach time some manners, by telling them a parable. Let us learn from this teaching the two key elements of Christian ethos.