Summary: A sermon about table fellowship.
"Who's Coming to Dinner?"
Luke 14:1, 7-24
I heard of one pastor who preached on this passage.
He really, really emphasized to his congregation Jesus' Words: "When you host a lunch or dinner, don't invite your friends...Instead...invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind."
Apparently, the pastor did a really good job of convicting the congregation to do this because he and his wife received 3 dinner invitations from church members that following week.
Seriously though, it's been said that Jesus and His disciples literally eat their way through the Gospels.
They go from place to place, house to house, one meal after another, always looking for the next invitation.
In Luke there are more references to eating, banquets, tables, sitting or reclining around tables than in any other of the Gospels.
It's at these dining situations that Jesus does much of His teaching, tells many of His parables, and hangs out with the marginalized.
For Jesus, the dinner table is a primary place for fellowship, discussion and ministry.
Folks even get converted around the table.
And as the Church of Jesus Christ, we do well to keep this in mind.
In Jesus' day, the guests at dinner would recline on couches.
The most important thing about the dinner was not the food, but the conversation...
...the time spent together.
I don't know about you, but unless I'm traveling and thus in a hurry...
...when I go out to dinner, I like it when the waiter or waitress take their time bringing the food to the table.
I always feel "ripped off," especially at the nicer restaurants--if the food comes too quickly.
The reason is that I go out to dinner with my wife or family or friends in order to talk, make up for lost time, relax, listen, learn.
I also might meet someone I don't know well for a meal.
And it is during this time at the table, where cells phones are (hopefully) turned off, there are no computers to distract or whatever where I can just focus on what is going on in the lives of the other people around the table.
The table is truly the place where we get to know one another.
It's not so much about the food...
That's one of the main reasons why the table was and is so important to Jesus.
Jesus was a "people person" to say the least!!!
I mean, He kept things well balanced.
He did enjoy His time alone with God.
We are told that Jesus would often retreat to solitary places to pray and get refreshed.
But in most instances, Jesus surrounded Himself with people.
And one of the greatest things about Jesus is that He will hang out with anybody who will have Him!!!
Jesus doesn't discriminate.
All are welcome at the table with God!!!
No one is ever pushed away, and no dinner invitation is declined.
And so here in Luke 14 we find that Jesus and His disciples are eating at the home of, of all people, a Pharisee!!!
And this isn't just any Pharisee, this guy is one of the leaders of the Pharisees.
And we find out that there are also lawyers or scribes there as well, along with a number of other prominent folk, no doubt.
And we are told that the folks at the table were "watching [Jesus] closely."
Now remember that the Pharisees and the Scribes represented the religious establishment, or the elite of Jesus' time.
The Pharisees were the ones who criticized Jesus for blasphemy because Jesus forgave sins.
The Pharisees were the ones who criticized Jesus for being unclean because he ate with "tax collectors and sinners."
They also criticized Jesus for working on the Sabbath, because He did much healing on the Sabbath and His disciples picked grain from a field.
The Scribes, Pharisees and the rest of the religious establishment were the ones who conspired to have Jesus brought up on charges and put to death.
So, Jesus is having dinner in a, kind of, hostile environment.
I don't know about you, but I'd feel pretty uncomfortable.
I'd be trying to mind all my P's and Q's.
Cause these people had invited Jesus, not because Jesus was part of the "in" crowd, they had invited Jesus to dinner in order to judge Him, find out more about His radical, rabble-rousing teachings and perhaps catch Him slipping up on one of the finer points of the law.
While sitting at the table, Jesus has noticed how the Pharisees, the Scribes, and the other socialites on the scene are looking for ways to "move up the social ladder" by kind of battling for the best seats at the table.
Again, in Jesus' day, at dinners, the guests reclined on couches, with the center couch being the place of highest honor.