September 17th – It’s Party Time

These last couple of days or so we’ve been glancing at how much the subject of eating and drinking, of parties and banquets and dinners, feature in the ministry of Jesus. In just one chapter in the New Testament, Luke Chapter 14, we have a variety of experiences of dining out.
In one of these Jesus was made to feel acutely unwelcome. This was not an isolated case, for in an earlier incident Jesus remarked on how cold was the welcome he received in a Pharisee’s house – you can read it all in the Second part of Luke Chapter 7 where a disreputable girl kissed his feet in a welcome of genuine love and respect and gratitude. This display of devotion shocked everyone, except Jesus, who defended her.
Well, here in Chapter 14 Jesus was again under critical scrutiny. How can you enjoy a meal together when you know you are on trial? Jesus shocked everyone by doing something considered to be work, on the Sabbath. The next thing he said insulted all the guests who had scrambled to get the best seats at the table. He told them to choose the lowliest places, and perhaps later be promoted rather than grab a higher place and then be asked to step down. Hardly polite conversation – more what the Americans call ‘party pooping’. He then told off his host for being too class-conscious in preparing his guest list! Not exactly the best way to make any party go with a swing: why,I can still feel the embarrassed atmosphere from 2000 years ago.
Then, to crown the lot, he told the story of guests invited to the greatest of all banquets, that of God’s Kingdom, and instead of responding, ‘Yes, thank you’ and joyfully attending, they all began to make excuses. One said ‘I’m involved in a property deal, excuse me’. Another said ‘I’ve just got a new ten ox-powered vehicle and need to try it out’. Another said, ‘But I’m married now’ (strange – but marriage is the end of religion for many a man!). Even more strangely that, in almost 2000 years, the excuses have hardly altered.
You could never describe Jesus as a popular party guest. He was too honest for that. Listen, to one verse from the same chapter, Luke Chapter 14, where he speaks of the excuse makers:
“I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.” Luke 14:24
Point to ponder:
No wonder one of the most popular hymns contains the words: “Just as I am … I come”.
A Prayer:
Almighty Father, who cares even for each sparrow, look in mercy on your bruised and hurting children this day: those whose loneliness is unrelieved; those whose sickness finds no cure; those whose hope is gone; those whose hearts are broken, and those whose greatest need is to be loved into life, forgiven and filled with joy: For Jesus sake.
Now read Luke Chapter 14.

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