The meal is one of the most common occurrences for all people, regardless of culture. Meals often reflect social values, and this was true in Jesus’ day. He used the meal as commonly practiced to contrast with principles related to the kingdom of God. Notice Jesus’ teaching in Luke 14:7-24.
- Practice Humility (Lk. 14:7-11).
In the first century, one’s location at the meal was an indication of their relative rank among the other guests. This would be similar to reserving the head of the table for a guest of importance today or the assigned seating at a wedding feast (husband and wife, parents, bridal party, family, other guests). Jesus noticed the guests’ propensity to choose the seats of honor, and he tells them to practice humility. Choose the lower seat, and let the seating attendant move you up. The Kingdom of God is characterized by those who practice humility, knowing that God will elevate his followers in the last day.
- Practice Grace (Lk. 14:12-14).
The meal was a common time to show hospitality, and often this was directed to family and neighbors. Jesus calls upon kingdom citizens to show compassion and justice to those in need. Kindness should not be shown to those who earn it or have the ability to pay you back. It should not be carried out in selfishness, in order to receive something back. Just as God gives his grace to those who cannot repay it, so should his people to others.
- Practice Priorities (Lk. 14:15-22).
Jesus tells of a parable of some who spurned the invitation to a banquet because they had more pressing matters to garner their attention. Invitations were then given to those less respectable members of the community who would see the banquet as a matter of utmost importance. Others along the way were compelled to come to the banquet. The Kingdom of God is reserved for those who earnestly seek it and treat it as the most important matter in their life. No other priority should ever take its place.
– Biblical Meditations, The Broadmoor Bulletin, 8/28/11