Pentecost 15
September 16, 2001
Luke 14:12-14
"Look Who's Coming to Dinner?"

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And he said to him also that had bidden him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor rich neighbors; lest haply they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee.   But when thou makest a feast, bid the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; because they have not wherewith to recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed in the resurrection of the just.

INTRODUCTION:  Most people invite friends and associates to dinner. They are people we enjoy, or people with whom we want to develop closer relations. Often we invite people because they first invited us, and we return the courtesy. The more prominent and more important the guests are the more honor they bring to us. In our parable for this morning Jesus teaches we should do the opposite - invite the humble, the unimportant, the poor who can not return the favor. This calls for a reversal of the usual attitude that most people have.  Jesus this morning shows us what it takes to invite the poor and lowly. Well then, what does it take to invite the poor and lowly?

1.   First, it takes Humility - to invite those who can bring us no advantage. This is the same thing Paul says in Romans 12:16 -  “Be of the same mind one toward another. Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to things that are lowly. Be not wise in your own conceits.”  And again, he tells us "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man He humbled Himself. And became obedient to death - even death on a cross!  (Philippians 2:6-7) 

Jesus Himself tells us in the Gospel of Matthew when He says: "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-29)

The point? In our world today, so often, people associated only with those who can return the favor, who can return grace for grace. When we show hospitality to those who have no advantage over us we are demonstrating and experiencing the compassion of Christ.

Jesus took our burden of sin to Himself. He did not wait until we were good enough or deserving of His mercy. To the contrary. He took our sin to Himself. He became our substitute. He exchanged our sin for His righteousness and then took our sin to the cross on a day called Good Friday. And then, on Easter Sunday we were brought to new heights because Jesus Christ rose from the dead to give us salvation and life. It is this message of salvation and the hope of life eternal, which has in fact changed us to be the men and women, boys and girls of faith. And in this sure and certain hope we live our lives expressing true hospitality and humility.

TRANSITION:  In mercy and humility we practice hospitality. We also express ourselves as we are motivated by grace.

2.   True hospitality also includes Grace - to invite people either because they are unworthy or cannot help us. We get nothing out of it. It is pure grace - love to the undeserving. Compare this with our situation and the heavenly banquet. Christ invites us - dirty, poor, naked - without any merit or worthiness on our part. In love He includes us to be in His presence at His table in the Kingdom. This is all God's undeserved mercy and love… GRACE God's riches at Christ's expense.

CONCLUSION:  What does it take to invite the poor and lowly? It takes humility and grace. As the Savior has graced us with these qualities and virtues may we, as God's children express ourselves by doing the same in faith, hope, and love. IN JESUS' NAME  AMEN

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Pentecost 15 (Series C) Sermon from 1998