All of us have some kind of experience giving a luncheon or dinner. Sometimes, it’s well-planned. Sometimes, it’s spur of the moment. It may be for a business purpose. It may be just for fun.
Jesus taught lessons about all sorts of things. He even taught a lesson about giving a luncheon or dinner, using a parable. I dare say the luncheon or dinner he described is different from any we have ever given.
“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 invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14, NIV)
I think it’s fair to say that the underlying lesson here is to avoid doing things for people so they will repay you. Do things for people out of a spirit of kindness and goodwill.
This wasn’t the first time Jesus taught this kind of lesson. In Luke 6:32-34, Jesus said: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.”
But the meal described in Luke 14 goes further than this lesson. It presents a luncheon or dinner that’s almost unimaginable. Just to make sure that the gift of a meal wasn’t for the purpose of being repaid, the host invited people he didn’t know. He invited people who were on no one’s luncheon list. He invited people who had perhaps never been invited to lunch or dinner.
Jesus! What would he think of next?