JESUS TEACHES ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
(Welcoming All People)
This week’s lesson, Luke 14:7-24, includes parables that highlight Jesus’ values of fairness, humility and hospitality. These parables illustrate how attitudes of superiority based on social status are barriers not only to good human relations, but also to the creation of good manners and empowering the lives of the poor and marginal in society. This lesson teaches how hospitality is a social imperative for justice and building community, based on the values of the kingdom of God. The value of social hospitality requires humility, spirituality and solidarity that recognize the inherent values of all persons. Living without social barriers requires humility that gives persons a right estimate of themselves. Jesus taught His disciples lessons in kingdom etiquette that focused on humility and respect for the boundaries of others.
The parables in Luke 14 convey in narrative form the teaching of Jesus’ sermon in the synagogue, recorded in Luke 4:18. Luke documented what is considered to have been Jesus’ inaugural sermon in the synagogue – in which Jesus announced His prophetic mission of hospitality and preaching to the poor, the brokenhearted, prisoners and the blind and bruised of society.
Jesus was often at meals with others. The meals were not only occasions for food and fellowship, but were times for building genuine community with others. Jesus saw the meal as an occasion for sacredness, affirming the goodness of life and an opportunity to affirm the dignity and spirit of others. Jesus warned against using these occasions for one’s own private advantage. As hosts of others, humility and hospitality were essential for honoring and recognizing the worth and dignity of others.
The teaching of Jesus against discriminatory hospitality practices are reintroduced in the parable of the great banquet. The guest list of the host was reversed to include unfavorable people, strangers and outsiders – because the priorities of the invited elite got in the way of their attendance at the banquet. The host and invited guests had a relationship that warranted recognition in the form of a banquet celebration. The host was a wealthy person who employed methods of social stratification to determine his guest list.
The parable that Jesus inserted into His teaching to the disciples contrasted the social banquet of the elite with the true blessing of being a guest at the Lord’s Table in the eschatological banquet. The Lord’s eschatological or kingdom banquet will not be empty of guests. The seats at all tables will be filled with those whom society has abandoned.
Jesus’ teaching regarding humility and hospitality challenges us to evaluate our social priorities and goals. Exposure of our true priorities might reveal that they are aligned with God’s kingdom and works of mercy and compassion. The excuses we offer for non-participation in social ministries that honor God’s kingdom reveal the activities and commitments we hold in greater esteem. The Lord’s banquet table has been set for all to come without barriers of sin, social ostracism, social status or rank. All are welcome to the table of the Lord. The kingdom banquet of communal love and justice invites “the huddled masses, the tired, and the poor” to a future where all exclusionary and discriminatory social practices are eliminated. A ministry to the homeless and disenfranchised in our society is a gift to those whom Jesus invites to His own table of love and sacrifice, forgiveness and compassion.
Edna M. Thompson
Siloam Youth Sunday School Teacher