Summary: Messiah uses a banquet to make serious point about how we should think of ourselves. Does self esteem have a place in a Christian's life?

September 1, 2013

The Banquet

A drunken man who smelled like beer, sat down on a subway seat next to a priest. The man’s tie was stained, his face was smeared with red lipstick, and a half-empty bottle of gin was sticking out of his torn coat pocket. He opened his newspaper and began to read. After a few minutes the man turned to the priest and asked, “Say father, what causes arthritis?”

The priest replied, “My son, it’s caused by loose living, being with cheap-wicked women, too much alcohol and contempt for your fellow man.”

“Well, I’ll be darned,” the drunk muttered, looking back to his newspaper.

Several more minutes go by, giving the priest time to think about what he had just said, so he nudged the drunk and apologized. “I’m sorry to come on so strong. How long have you had arthritis?”

“Oh, I don’t have it, Father,” the man said quietly, “I was just reading here that the Pope does.”

A woman is stopped by a police officer to warn her about a broken tail light. As he looks at her license he said, “Lady, it indicates here that you should be wearing glasses.”

“I have contacts, officer,” she replied.

“Well, I don’t care who you know,” he said sternly, “You’re getting a ticket anyway.”

Very few passages of scripture hit so hard at the center of human behavior than Luke the 14th chapter, which is why this scripture is so difficult to explain. The reason these words are so tricky is that religious leaders are the ones to preach the message contained here, but the same people have great difficulty submitting to the words in this chapter. Few are better at hiding flaws than religious leaders, since living to the standards of God’s Words is not easy, regardless of profession. Going against what Messiah taught is just in our DNA and a part of how we relate to each other, but there is a better way. Knowing this better way to live is the reason we have His Word. Luke 14 is a major teaching for success.

In essence, the Teacher is saying in the focus scripture that we should avoid human rank and submit to each other in humility, not promoting our own status but allow others to do that for us. To make the point, Yeshua was attending a banquet that was certainly not in His honor, but for the purpose of observing Him. It was intended to be a trap set by a Pharisee and his friends. The scripture reads that He was there, “to eat bread on a Sabbath day.”

Every time the word “bread” is used, throughout scripture, it is meant to represent truth, with exceptions found in Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4 plus Deuteronomy 8:3. In these three cases, the enemy is attempting to convince that food for the stomach is more important than the truth of God. In this passage of Luke 14, the meaning is dual, since the meeting was a banquet for eating literal food and sharing of information. So the reason for the gathering was to get at the truth of who Jesus was, although in their hearts, they already knew but did not want to acknowledge. One line in this passage is very telling about the purpose, and it is, “they watched Him.” The “star” of this event was Messiah himself. If He was anything close to being only human, He would have just marched to the head table and taken the place of honor. Such human behavior can be seen when the President or other dignitary attends a function. There is no question about where he sits, which only reinforces his place in society. Since “they” the Pharisees, were watching Him, an example was made for all in Christianity to follow, even our religious leaders today. But, have you ever seen a real-life situation where the moral of this parable was carried out?

The story begins with instructions in these words, “When you are invited [by] a man to a banquet house, do not go and sit in the front seat; it might be that a more honorable man than you is invited there.” Instructions continue, “But when you are invited, go and sit at the lower end, so that when he who has invited you comes, he will say to you, My friend, go up and sit higher; and you will have glory before all who sit with you.”

A comparable lesson comes from Matthew 23:10 through 12. “Do not be called leaders,” the passage reads, “for One is your leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you let him be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” This is a place where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, gives a more precise instruction. Many translations use “shall” and “will” in the passage, “whoever is greatest among you “shall” be your servant, but the Aramaic uses “let” to imply that the other or subordinate party in this relationship has a duty as well. It doesn’t occur to leaders among humans to be servants but bosses, nor does is fit our customs to “let” a person who has some sort of superiority over us, serve us.

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