How to Throw a Kingdom of God PartyDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.”
Today’s reflection picks up where yesterday’s left off. As you may recall, Jesus was dining in the home of a leading Pharisee. Noticing that other guests were seeking the most honorable seats at the table, he exhorted those present to seek humility rather than personal exaltation. Then he added, “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet...don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” (14:12-13).
What would motivate the Pharisees to do such a countercultural thing? In verse 14, Jesus notes that when people are resurrected, God will reward those who invited disadvantaged people to their feasts. So, one might choose to open one’s home to people who cannot reciprocate out of a desire for eschatological blessings. It’s likely that Jesus understood that this might inspire the Pharisees, who believed in the future resurrection, to be more generous and hospitable.
But, as we read the Gospels, we realize that the kind of behavior Jesus commends in this text is part and parcel of the kingdom of God. We who are citizens of the kingdom through faith in Christ are to act in countercultural ways, not only so we can receive future rewards, but also because that’s how we honor our King and live out the values of his kingdom. Thus, we are motivated by a desire to obey God, to worship him in our daily lives, and to love others in his name.
Jesus invites us to open our homes, our hearts, our lives to all people, especially those who don’t have the means to repay us. As we do, we demonstrate the presence of the kingdom of God and we enjoy a foretaste of the future when all people will share in the great banquet of the Messiah.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever been the recipient of the kind of hospitality Jesus encourages? If so, when? Have you ever extended this sort of hospitality to others? When? What would help you to open your home and heart more generously to those who cannot repay you?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for this strong word of encouragement. I admit that when I invite someone to lunch or host a dinner, I tend to think only of my friends. Forgive me for not seeing with the eyes of your kingdom. Help me to be hospitable to those whom I might easily overlook, those who would not be able to reciprocate.
Lord, you are asking me to do what, in fact, you have done with me. You have invited me into your party, not because I am worthy and not because I can repay you, but out of sheer grace. Thank you for this invitation. Help me to imitate you as I extend your grace to others. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: If you’d like a deeper understanding of the kingdom of God, let me refer you to my blog series: What Was the Message of Jesus?