Luke 14 – Can’t Take Jesus Anywhere

Luke 14 Bible with Theo Orange 70 Percent Dark Chocolate

Today’s Chocolate: Theo Orange 70% Dark Chocolate

Today’s PassageLuke 14

I’m a post behind again. Looks like today it’s Hamburger Book, ’cause we’re playin’ catch-up. First up is Luke 14!

For a guy with a contentious relationship with the Pharisees, Jesus sure gets invited to their houses a lot. Today’s chapter opens with him having a meal on the Sabbath with a prominent Pharisee and his peers, and to be honest, it’s as if Jesus is playing a game with himself to see how provocative he can be without actually getting kicked out of the house.

It starts out unassumingly enough. A man with dropsy (a condition in which fluid accumulates in the body, causing swelling) suddenly shows up at the dinner, finding Jesus and apparently hoping for healing. Jesus asks, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” (3) and heals the man. The Pharisees can’t argue with his point: it’s certainly good to help a person in need on the Sabbath. Jesus proceeds to give advice on how to win friends and influence people when you’re at a luncheon or dinner party, culminating with the deliberately borderline-outrageous statement that God will shower you with favor if you throw parties for broke, homeless, and disabled people who have no means to repay you.

Cue awkward silence. In what I imagine is an attempt to smooth out the weirdness, one of the guests comments, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (15). I’m also inclined to suspect that his remark is code for “It’s good to be Jewish.” After all, who else would break bread in the kingdom of God? Certainly not anyone who’s not among God’s Chosen People!

Those are the vibes I’m picking up off this guy, and considering the parable Jesus proceeds to tell, he appears to be picking up those same vibes. In this parable, a man invites a bunch of dinner guests, but none of them can be bothered to attend, making excuses about tending to their property or home life. Spurned thus, the host sends out his servant to gather society’s outcasts, not only “the poor and crippled and blind and lame” (21), but also roadside randos, whom the man hasn’t even met before. As for the previously-invited guests? The man vows, “I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner” (24). That’s cold, son!

The folks in the parable, obsessed with their land and oxen and new wives, take the dinner invitation for granted. They’re decent folks, the middle class, property owners. Yet the party host invites precisely the people who Jesus said can’t do anything in return for him! They’re the destitute of society, even people outside society, whoever the man’s servants can find out on random roads and among the countryside’s hedges. They’re the last people you’d expect to see at a dinner party, but they’re there. And I’m pretty sure everyone at the Pharisee’s dinner party can pick up on the implication: the host is God, the turning-down-for-what guys are the religious who’s-whos of Judea, and the Actual Guests are social rejects and non-Jews.

Unsurprisingly, the next scene takes place with Jesus outside.

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