Summary: Do we look to exhalt ourselves or humble ourselves?
Luke 14:1 NIV
One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.
7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 "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. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 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 your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." 12 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
The best seat in the house! It’s what everybody’s looking for. Let’s say you have been invited to a Football game by the owner of a team… where are “HIS” seats? [skybox]. Suppose you want to buy the best seats for a Football game for yourself, where do you want them? [50 yard line] Suppose you are going to a baseball game, are the best seats up in the nosebleads? [behind home plate] How about a boxing match? [Ring side] How about at a play or a concert? [front row center]
People will beg, borrow, and steal to get those seats… won’t they? And when you have tickets for those seats… do you keep it quiet? “Hey, check out where I’ll be sitting for the Bears game this weekend.” To get those seats… is special. To have those seats… means we are somewhat important. Perhaps we are powerful, perhaps we are rich, perhaps we know the right people… doesn’t matter… we are important!
But let’s not stop there. This isn’t JUST for special occasions. What happens in a crowded parking lot when a parking spot opens up RIGHT next to the entrance? Do you ever see anyone fighting for the parking spot furthest away from the entrance? Young and old alike; women… men… will drive around and around and around to get the spot they deserve.
Did you know… we even have a best seat in our church… one people fight over! [The back pew] I assume that’s because that’s the easiest place to take a nap without being noticed.
We want the best seat. No… we deserve the best seat. Who else… really… deserves those seats more than me? Haven’t we really earned the privilege of having those special spots?
In our scripture text today, we have our own little version of parking lot bumper cars going in inside of a very important man’s living room. It’s lunchtime after the worship service, and following tradition… the visiting speaker (that would be Jesus who just got done teaching in the synagogue) has been invited to the nicest house to sit with the most important people and have lunch. And scripture says… he was being carefully watched. In this room of who’s who’s… Jesus is the one they all have their eyes on. This, is the time to really impress Jesus. So, when the time came to sit… everyone began fighting for the BEST seat. Now, where was the best seat in at a Jewish feast?
Let’s look at Mark 10. In Mark 10:36, James and John go up to Jesus and have a special request. Jesus replies to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?" And they said to Him, "Grant that we may sit in Your glory, one on Your right, and one on Your left." You see… they didn’t have Ticketmaster back then… you had to know somebody. The best seats were to the right and left to the host, to the right and the left of the man in charge! In fact… the closer you were to this spot… the more important you were. Even second seat on the left was pretty awesome!
So, with all eyes on Jesus… dinner was about to begin… and this (what I imagine to be) funny little dance begins as these proud and prestigious men begin dancing around each other and weaseling their way closer to “the best seat.” After all… we have to look important in front of Jesus. How “important” do you think these men looked throwing elbows and stretching out arms to reserve “their” seat?