1 June 2012

Luke 14:1-11

"For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." (v. 11)


The Gospel of Luke provides a distinct insight into the life of Jesus. Unlike Matthew who provides his readers with the detailed genealogy and culture-rich history of Jesus' life, Luke draws us into Jesus' conversations and you'd be forgiven for thinking that his attention to detail in his accounts read more like a well-constructed legal brief. The encounters recorded in Luke 14 continue in that vein and in today's passage Jesus draws yet another valuable life lesson while observing the seating arrangements at a Sabbath meal. This time, it was a lesson on humility.

Is it embarrassing to have to move seats? 'Not really', you might say, or 'depends on the reason'. Here, Jesus was not knocking the awareness of others which motivates someone to give up their seat on the bus or train for someone who is less able to stand. Nor was Jesus getting at the goodwill of a person who agrees to swap seats so that a couple or family can sit together as they travel. No, Jesus was tackling the thorny issue of pride; pride which honours itself, expects to be honoured (and probably honoured first), with little or no regard for others; pride which precedes that falling feeling (also known as humiliation). Did the rush for the best seat at the dinner table spark off an attitude check? Maybe, but Jesus turned it into a parable to show that humility is better than humiliation.

The writer of Proverbs 16:18 says that "pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall". The apostle Paul, writing much later, picked up on the same issue, and in Romans 12:3 he says, "[Do not] think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith God has assigned". Like Jesus, Paul's commitment to a healthy self-esteem and appropriate self-confidence is clear - think highly of yourself, but not higher than yourself.

To Ponder

How do you demonstrate humility when you are in a familiar environment?

How do you demonstrate humility when you are in an unfamiliar environment?

Think of someone who demonstrates humility well. What can you learn from them?

Bible notes author

The Revd Katei Kirby

The Revd Katei Kirby is currently heading up the Belonging Together project in the Connexional Team. This initiative celebrates the Methodist Church's ethnic diversity, and seeks to embed this at all levels of the Church's life and ministry of the Church.