Friday, May 22, 2015

partying with the poorest

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.
Luke 14:13-14

Jesus calls us to help those in the most difficult situations. We must care for the needy. He wants us to party with the poor, give extravagantly so that the physically infirm and the ones who beg among us can be part of our lives. All the groups Jesus mentioned were on the thinnest margin of social survival. They never feasted. And Jesus told those around him to reverse that trend. To invite blind beggars, poor widows, handicapped homeless people into their lives and celebrate with them knowing God would reward such extravagance in eternity was to motivate them.

Why does Jesus not instruct those here to heal these people? Just earlier in Luke 10 at least 70 of His disciples were commissioned to do so. And they reported back to Him that they were able to preach the kingdom, cast out demons, and do His work. Other gospels record they duplicated nearly every aspect of Jesus' ministry. Yet here people are told to care for the poor in their poverty, to give to the needy in their need, to invest their time and money with the sick, the lame, and the blind.

The difference is the setting and the people being addressed. Jesus spoke these words to His host at a dinner... a pharisee had invited him to dine with other religious leaders... a very rare invitation in Jesus' ministry. He was more than likely in a well furnished home surrounded by socially conscious religious elitists (see Luke 14:7 to get the scene set in your mind). He is offering to these men a way out of their arrogance to show their repentance. 

Their religion was consumed with social standing. He wanted them to have God's heart for all people. It involved dissolving all thoughts of holier-than-thou elitism. It was a messy, happy mingling with the lowest poor in order to show that this Pharisees had truly found God's heart. Repentance humiliates my pride so that others may be satisfied with the actions of Jesus living in me.

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