When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 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 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.”
Jesus finds the most ordinary things to use as examples for us in His lessons. In this parable He points out how our vying for a good position at a dinner party is like our mad scramble for success in life. We often get so wrapped up in what we are doing that we lose sight of why we do it at all.
The quest for honor and position even affected the disciples. In Mark 10:37 we hear James and John ask “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” Jesus replies that the honor is not His to grant, but God’s and gently chides them about their concern for ranking within the kingdom. He tells them all that He came not be served but instead to serve others and if they want to follow Him, they must do the same.
Jesus calls us to serve each other, sharing God’s gifts and His love with all our brothers and sisters, regardless of their position or ours. The concern for who comes before another or who rates higher have no place in the life Jesus promises us. We are all God’s children, and no other title we crave could possibly surpass that!
Gracious God, we are sometimes vain and selfish, looking for our own glory instead of reflecting Yours. Help us to be humble servants, working for the good of all Your children. Amen.