”When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “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. 9 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. 10 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. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14.7-11
I like the words of that old country and western song by Mac Davis, “Hard to Be Humble. The first verse goes this like — “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, When you’re perfect in every way, I can’t wait to look in the mirror, Cause I get better looking each day…” (For the whole song and a good laugh visit https://youtu.be/0WTrMuZOZvM). I remember that song from my childhood and it was humorous. But in some sense, it’s about us, how we feel, think and often response to life in general.
When Jesus enters a house for dinner, Scripture tells us “he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table.” I’ve seen this happen before in school cafeterias, church chancels (the space around the altar), and business meetings. People jostle for positions of importance almost naturally. Sometimes they want to be by a particular person who they deem important, or maybe it’s a VIP who is actually at the table. We feel that by putting ourselves in the right spot, we too will feel important.
Notice in this context of this Scripture, Jesus was one of the last ones to be seated. The text tells us he noticed how the guests were “already” seated. They had already picked the place of honor. But who could be more honorable than God in the flesh, in the form of Jesus? Yet these humans, not unlike us, placed themselves in positions of importance.
Jesus tells a parable about someone being invited to a wedding feast, but not to take the place of honor. For someone more important than you might have been invited. Then how embarrassing it will be when the host asks you to move! (My interpretation.) “But take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say, “Friend, move up to a better place.” The point of Jesus’ parable was this — “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
I’ve known many great men and women who humble themselves. Dr. Todd Still, the Dean of Baylor University’s Truett Seminary is this type of person. Although he is the boss, has a position of high importance, he humbles himself. He serves others, cares for others, respects others, and is typically putting himself last. He is taking to heart the precedent of Jesus to “humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.” (James 4.10)
What are ways we can humble ourselves before the Lord and others? If we are “important” in certain circles, and all of us have influence with at least a few people, how can we serve them, putting others needs before our own and thus imitating the image of Christ? How can we be the hands and feet of Jesus to a world deeply in need of this witness?
Come to the altar of the Lord. Humble yourself. Bow before our King. Allow Jesus to be the one who guides us, leads us and girds up for his work and by his will.
“O Lord God, you are good. I am simply a keeper of the door in the house of the Lord. I simply want a seat at your table, at the end, at the foot. I am nothing compared to you. I am your servant, your person, your child. Come now, Holy Spirit, bring revival upon us now. Help us know that you are beautiful and that your ways are higher than ours. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen