2 September 2007

Luke 14: 7-14

"For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted... when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind". (v.11, 13)


Quite a lot of the teaching of Jesus is set in the context of a meal. In this passage he gives advice for both guests and hosts. 

Verses 8 -11 are sound common sense. We would not sit at the top table at a wedding reception without carefully checking the seating plan first. Jesus was speaking to people who were very concerned about their status, who would jostle with others for the position of honour at a meal. 

Luke describes this as a parable, which means that the teaching is more than just good advice but an expression of the values of God's Kingdom. Verse 11 was a challenge to those who had a high opinion of themselves. It also echoes the words of Mary's song in Luke 1:52, "He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly". 

The advice of Jesus to hosts ran counter to the social norm of his day, which was only to invite those of a similar status to yourself to a meal, expecting that they would invite you back. The radical advice of Jesus, again expressing the values of God's Kingdom, is that the people to invite are those who cannot reciprocate, the very people you might wish to avoid.

To Ponder

Can you think of anyone who shows the sort of humility expressed in this teaching?

Are there people on the margins of society to whom you should offer hospitality? How would you go about doing this?

Bible notes author

The Revd Richard Bielby

Richard is a supernumerary Methodist presbyter in Stockton on Tees. He is a part-time prison chaplain and also serves as a voluntary chaplain at Durham Cathedral.