Saturday, January 14, 2006

Humility - Luke 14:7-14

Inspiration

(7) Noting how guests selected the honored places at the table, Jesus told them this parable: (8) “Do not take the place of honor when someone invites you to a feast, 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.’ Humiliated, you will then be forced to take the least important place. (10) Instead, when you are invited, select the place of least honor, so that when your host comes in, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then, in the presence of all the other guests, you will be honored. (11) For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be put forward.”

(12) 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 neighbors; if you do, they may repay you by inviting you back. (13) Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. (14) In this way, you will be blessed for although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:7-14 TNIV ~ Teaching on humility)

Question

What would be the setting and arrangement of a typical banquet at this time in this culture?

What seats were considered the highest, which were considered the lowest and why?

Connection

Luke 14:10 – “Friend, move up to a better place.”
“Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men; it is better for him to say to you, ‘Come up here,’ than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman.” (Proverbs 25:6-7 NIV)
Observation

Times and culture change, but human nature changes not!

Investigation

“Luke’s gospel has more meal-time scenes than all the others.” (Tom Wright, Luke for Everyone, Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, 174; cited hereafter as Wright)

“At banquets the basic item of furniture was the couch for three, the ‘triclinium.’ A number of ‘triclinia’ were arranged in a U-shape. Guests reclined on their left elbows. The place of highest honor was the central position on the couch at the base of the U. The second and third places were those on the left of the principal man (i.e. – reclining behind him) and on his right (i.e. – reclining with the head on his bosom). After this there seems to have ranked the couch to the left, its most honorable occupant being in the middle, with the next couches behind and before him as on the first. The third couch, with a similar arrangement of its occupants, would be on the right of the first, the fourth to the left of the second, and so on.” (Morris, 231)

“Precedence depended on the rank and distinction of the guests of this time; after AD 300 it depended upon age. The most important guests arrived late for banquets.” (Marshall, 581)

“. . . ‘banquet.’ Lit. ‘to wedding celebrations,’ but ‘gamos,’ especially in the plural (as here), can also be used in a generic sense. The formal order of places would not have been restricted to wedding celebrations.” (Fitzmyer, 2:1046)

“Elsewhere Jesus warned his disciples about seeking positions within the kingdom of God (22:24-27; Mk.10:35-45), and also criticized the Pharisees for their religious pride (11:43; 20:45-47).” (Marshall, 581)

[vs.7] “ . . . ‘meal’ (14:16,17,24; 20:46), is used here for the main meal of the day, held in the late afternoon.” (Marshall, 583)

“Luke’s fourfold list of the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind (vs.13) is no surprise to the reader; we have known since Mary’s song (1:46-55) and Jesus’ inaugural sermon (4:16-30) that these were kingdom people.” (Willimon, 177)

[vs.14] “As in 11:37-38, ‘ariston’ refers to a noonday meal . . . whereas ‘deipnon’ refers to a main meal, taken toward the evening.”(Fitzmyer, 2:1047)

“Hospitality, then, is not having each other over on Friday evenings but welcoming those who are in no position to host us in return. Nor does the text speak of sending food to anyone; rather, the host and the guest sit at the table together. . . . In the Christian community no one is a ‘project.’ Do you suppose Jesus was serious about opening up church halls and homes in this way?” (Willimon, 178)

“Godet points out that, in following Jesus’ advice, ‘we run no other risk than that of being exalted.’” (Morris, 232)

Petition

God in heaven, you have seated me at your table. I do not deserve this honored place. So, in the name of Jesus, may I show others the goodness and grace you have given me. Amen.