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Did Jesus really say that?

May 16, 2012

“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.’”  Luke 14:12-14

Verses like that above always trouble me.  Did Jesus really say that?  Am I really supposed to invite the poor, crippled, lame and blind to dinner at my home and not my friends and relatives?  As a Bible-believing Christian what am I supposed to do with that?  What did Jesus really mean?  There are several possible answers.

We could say, since this was spoken at the home of a Pharisee, that it doesn’t apply to us.  We all know we are not like those nasty self-righteous Pharisees who needed to hear that kind of rebuke.  We, on the other hand, kind and loving Christians that we are, don’t need that message.  Because Jesus “knows our hearts” we don’t need such stern measures.

Or we might get theological.  We can analyze the passage using our Biblical scholarship skills.  We could say “Well you see, in those days they saw such infirmities as signs of God’s judgment and uncleanness so what Jesus was really saying is that we are all sinners, not just those poor people, so that we shouldn’t make such distinctions.  We should say with humility, as we sit down with our friends and relatives, that we are just like those others.”

Or perhaps Jesus was giving us a principle to follow, not an exact command.  What He really meant was that we should be kind and caring to the downtrodden.  We don’t actually have to invite them to dinner but we need an attitude of love and compassion for them.

Or does He actually want us to do it?  Does He expect us, His disciples, to be so personal and loving in our interactions with those in need that we are transformational in society?  Does it make us “liberal” or “emergent” if we see this passage as instructive, as if He is asking us to significantly modify our lives, and not as verses to be interpreted and studied?

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From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. Hi Tom,
    I agree, it is difficult sometimes to figure out where we stand relative to the words of Jesus. My best conclusion is that He will always give the way as it should be while He at the same time understands that, because of the weaknesses in man, we will often not go that way. An example is when the people of Israel wanted a king and Samuel was reluctant because he knew that was not God’s way yet God allowed it because He, God, knew it was the way man would go but that it would all achieve His objectives in the end. In the short term, it did produce a King in David who was the forerunner of the King of Kings that is to come. It has to do with the prescience of God where all things that will be were already known to Him before the foundation of the world. We accept that He knows before it happens that the next hair on our head will fall, and the next sparrow will fall, then we accept that He knew what would happen after Saul and onward to the First Advent and onward to the Second and further. The thing to come to grips with is the question of our free will in the face of God’s foreknowledge, or with Election and free choice. Sometimes I have that clear I my mind but then it eludes me again. Jessop.

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