We want to be associated with the rich, powerful and famous for through them we gain a foothold in their world and are elevated among our peers.
The ‘Great Banquet’ of Luke 14 expresses the betrayal felt by a host as each guest despises his invitation. Then, in a surprising turn, the host invites not the next best but those at the other end of the scale –
bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.
Perplexed, I re-read the chapter for clues. This parable was given in the context of a banquet.
12 Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’
There is the same phrase! Here, Jesus gives a reason for inviting outcasts – a reward in heaven. This reveals the Lord’s value system often declared by Jesus –
Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last. (Luke 13:30)
To surrender the race for the top, receiving those the Lord sends us is a sacrifice of love, doubly so to receive those who will disadvantage us before those we care about.