After this display Jesus noticed the guests at the party were scurrying around trying sit in the place of honor. I imagine it looking like a game of musical chairs when a chair is eliminated, and everyone is running to squeeze into that one chair that designates a place of honor.
Jesus once again finds a teachable moment for the church leadership by telling a parable about humility (v. 8-11). But Jesus does not stop there; He goes on to make His point clear. Looking directly at the host of the party, the “prominent Pharisee,” Jesus says, “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.” (v. 12)
Essentially what Jesus is doing in front of all the other important people is giving the host of the party a verbal reprimand. He is saying, “Dude you have it all wrong. You invited all the wrong people today, none of us should be here.” I want to emphasize how offensive this would have been to those in attendance. The church leaders in Jesus’ day just did not get it, and Jesus was determined to make them see that the Kingdom of God is upside down. The Bible is clear when it says “the last will be first” (Matthew 20:16) and the “least of these will be greatest” in the Kingdom (Luke 9:48).
Jesus continues to offend and open the eyes of the leaders in attendance by informing the host who he should have invited. Jesus says starting in verse 13, “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.” (v. 13-14)
So, the second point that Jesus wants the Church and all of us to learn is this… Not only are people with disabilities to be embraced by the church, but people with disabilities are also to be a priority in the church.
Jesus is teaching the Church about humility and priorities. For far too long the church has had their priorities backwards. When I say “the Church” I don’t necessarily mean a specific church. I mean the Church in a more global sense. One thing that I have always loved about where I serve, First Christian Church, is that we have had some form of disability ministry for well over 35 years.
One of the reasons that Jesus wants the church to make the disability community a priority is because God has gifted people in many different ways. All the gifts that God has given are meant to “build up” the church. Without prioritizing people with disabilities we miss out on being blessed by our friends.
Ryan Wolfe is the Disability Ministry Pastor at First Christian Church in Canton, OH. Click to read Ryan’s full bio.