Luke 14 v 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 honoured in the presence of all your fellow guests.”
We are not sure if Jesus taught the following three parables at the same occasion as that mentioned in chapter 14 vs 1-6. But it makes no difference because the flow of thought continues. The unrelational attitude of the Pharisees to the man healed from dropsy is again reflected firstly in the attitudes of the guests invited to a feast, and then secondly to the hosts who are giving the feast.
Notice the attitude of the guests in v 7. Jesus was observing how for some people the chief satisfaction of going to a wedding feast, was to parade their own self-importance. They imagined that who they were and what they did was tremendously important and therefore everybody ought to see it. They had no thought of the bridal couple, nor the intention of the host, but rather were filled with their own ego. In other words they were entirely unable to enjoy the feast as a gracious gift given to them, quite apart from their own importance by the host.
We still often see evidence of this in our modern society when at important events – events of state, or other important times, guests are seated according to rank and honour. Think of royal banquets, coronations, royal weddings or big corporate functions. The focus of such a guest is entirely on himself so he does not enter into the event at all.
This is, of course, a reference to that fundamental humility that is required of all those who wish one day to be at the Heavenly Banquet. We cannot be saved if we hang on to notions of our own self-importance. It is grace that invites us to the feast. We do not get there because we are important or distinguished in any way.
How embarrassing it would be if the host came to someone like that and said in effect, “This seat has been reserved for someone more important than you. Please move to the other seat!” It would be a shameful loss of face for anyone living in that eastern society.
Just so, says Jesus, for all people. If we do not accept the invitation to salvation as an act of God’s grace, there will come a day when we will be humiliated before all. Remember chapter 13 v 27?
Just as the Pharisees could not think of the man with dropsy, except in relation to their law, so some people cannot think of anyone or anything else, even the grace of God, except in relation to how important they think they are. The words of v 11 are solemn indeed, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
How often have you not seen this ugly human trait in people around you?
Let’s be careful it does not develop in us. It is grace, always and only, God’s grace.