YOU WANT TO IMPRESS?
Lord, we love to hear Your advice.
Read LUKE 14:1–11
Jesus at a Pharisee’s House
14 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.
5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child[a] or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.
7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 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. 10 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 honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
a Luke 14:5 Some manuscripts donkey
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.” (Augustine of Hippo, 354–430)
Here we see another miraculous healing on the Sabbath. This is a favorite theme of the Gospel writers: they record seven such stories in total. Most would think that such miracles would endear this man to everyone, yet the scribes and Pharisees only grow more convinced that Jesus is a threat who must be stopped. I like the way Jesus doesn’t actually answer their questions, but questions their answers (Luke 5:21–23; 20:2–7, 20–26) – and in such a penetrating way that they have no response.
Jesus understands that their determination to hold on to reassuring religious regulations is rooted in pride, so he uncorks a striking parable about the danger of pride and the necessity of humility. His parable advises people not to rush for the best places at a feast but rather the lowest. When people choose the place of honor they will inevitably be humiliated, but when people voluntarily choose the lowest place they will be honored publicly by being invited to an upgrade. The conclusion is familiar – “all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (11). What goes up must come down.
We live in a world where people are similarly eager to elevate their social status, perhaps by driving the right car, or having the enviable job, being seen with the important people, or even simply dressing as if in a fashion show. We are too quick to exalt ourselves, but according to Jesus this is inadvisable. Instead, he encourages us to find a way to serve, thereby humbling ourselves, allowing him to decide if he wants to give us a wider platform.
Who are you trying to impress? Service is always more important in God’s kingdom than status or recognition.
Lord, Your people recognize the spiritual peril of self aggrandizement at the expense of others. Keep us in our lane.