8 June 2013

Luke 14:7-11

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


A few verses after this parable of the seating of the wedding guests, we read of the rich man who invited his rich friends to come to a dinner party and how in the end he had to invite the people from the street because his first choice guests did not come (Luke 14:16-24). And today's passage is preceded by Christ healing on the Sabbath and challenging the Pharisees about what is right to do on a holy day (Luke 14:1-6). So Christ is turning the social mores of his day upside-down in order to describe what his kingdom values are for the gathered company.

Sadly society today still has a pecking order. The BBC recently ran a survey about social class and found there to be more than the traditional three. The boundaries between class divides are perhaps more blurred in these new categories but by labelling people there is an almost automatic response for a person to try and move out of any designation.

In this parable Christ is recognising the way some people always seem to respond to hierarchy by placing themselves at the top and then everyone watches them fall. So rather than behaving with self-importance begin at the bottom and allow others to determine what your rightful place might be. Christ reflects that when others see what the hosts have done, moving you up the seating order, they will notice the respect in which the hosts hold you.

Whilst we are encourage to love ourselves as much as we love our neighbour, in this passage we are encouraged not to value ourselves, but to let others do the valuing for then we will be respected.

To Ponder

  • Are we right to have a seating order at social gatherings today? Are there some social orders that are important to retain? How do you justify keeping some and not others?
  • Should the Church, as a national institution, do more to put itself at the top of the social order so that its voice can be heard? Why (or why not)?

Bible notes author

Margaret Sawyer

Margaret Sawyer has worked for the Methodist Connexional Team for ten years, first as connexional secretary for Women's Network and then as the Church's equality and diversity officer. She now works to support preaching and worship in her local circuit and district.