Thought for The Day – Monday 28th March


The Parable of the Lowest Seat at the Feast

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 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 honoured in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:7-14

Verse 1 of this chapter sets the scene for this parable. It is the Shabbat; the Friday night meal the marks the start of the Sabbath, still celebrated today in many Jewish homes. Jesus is observing the Shabbat in the home of a prominent Pharisee, and he knew, of course, that he was being watched.

Jesus’ teaching in this parable is very direct. It is a clear instruction about humility. He pulls his punches slightly by using a wedding feast as an illustration, rather than the Shabbat meal itself, but the meaning is and would have been clear.

What Jesus uses as an illustration was completely counter-cultural then and I’m guessing it would be now too.  Imagine being the mother or father of the bride at a wedding and being asked to take a seat at the back of the room!  But this is an illustration of exactly what we’re called to – to be counter-cultural.  Jesus challenges us, pushing us out of our comfort zone once again.

We are asked to do things for others, without thought of repayment; to make a gift without reward.  The parable emphasises humility and clearly asks us to move away from our need for recognition and approval.

And this stems from the very basis of our faith – that we do not need to earn God’s love or mercy or forgiveness. It is a gift.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, it is often so difficult to remember that we don’t need to earn your love.  Bring us to a deeper understanding so that, every time we stumble in our faith, we know that you are there to pick us up, however little we think we deserve it.  And may this understanding help us to reach out to others so that we can invite them to the greatest feast; to share in your love.

Action: Do something for someone today, without being asked. Make someone a cup of coffee; buy a bunch of flowers for a neighbour; send a message to someone you’re seldom in touch with.