By Brooke Holt
“Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, “Give your place to this person,” and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher.” Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’” Luke 14:7-11
There is nothing much more captivating than a great storyteller! Jesus was a great storyteller, and he frequently used stories (known as parables) to teach people about the kingdom of God. In the parable for today, Jesus describes a common scenario for people in his day. There was nothing grander in Israelite culture than a wedding feast. Close friends and family of the bride and groom loved to be included in this special celebration. What made the day even better was when they were not just guests but guests of honor.
Maybe you have had friends or are the friend who always seeks to find that place of honor. It may not be at a wedding banquet but at an important business meeting or church gathering. Humans desire to be close to those we deem powerful or important. It was clearly no different in Jesus’ day.
Jesus teaches a different way than self-exaltation. Jesus teaches about the way of God and his kingdom. In God’s kingdom, the humble are exalted, and those who seek to exalt themselves find themselves humbled. Jesus encourages his audience to choose God’s way in this world. It seems hard. Who really wants to humble themselves? Isn’t it much more fun to enjoy prestige, honor, and popularity?
It may be easier and more enjoyable to pursue success in this world, and it may look good for a season. But Jesus warns there will be a day when those who assert themselves for the places of honor will be publicly humiliated as the host redirects them to the lowest place. Jesus is telling his people that assertion of self is not the way up or forward in his kingdom. To follow Jesus and find a place in his kingdom will mean going down low, a complete humbling of self.
Jesus did not just tell stories about humility. Jesus lived it. Even though he was the Son of God, he humbled himself. Paul encourages you to follow this model of Christ: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). If the King of kings can humble himself on this earth, how much more important that his children follow in his way?
God’s kingdom does not look like this earthly kingdom in which you dwell. The question is whether you will embrace Jesus’ way to exaltation or if you will continue to seek your own.
This is a challenging call for the Christian. Yet, Jesus’ way of exaltation will lead you to that heavenly exaltation for eternity. Will it be your way or Jesus’ way today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
The Crucified Life small group Christian study is designed to reflect upon the Seven Last Words of Christ from the cross and what they mean for us today. Walk the road of Calvary with Jesus in order to grow closer to Him. The Crucified Life small group study examines human suffering as it is mirrored in Christ’s suffering on the cross and what His seven last words say to a hurting world. Find out incredible insights into these words as Jesus teaches us, even in death, how we can use our suffering and triumph over it for His glory. Begin your Crucified Life today.
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