The Bare Soul - March 22, 2009
A Seat at God's Banquet

Luke 14:13-14 - "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."

The context of Jesus' admonition in this passage is in direct response to how he observed the dinner guests choosing their seat at the meal they had all been invited to share in the house of a Pharisee. Just as they selfishly chose their seats in context of their own self-importance (Luke 14:7-11), Jesus also reprimanded them on who they would potentially invite others to break bread in the verses following. While sharing a meal is an important aspect of our societal life today, of even greater importance was it in first century Palestine. Not only WHAT you ate defined who you were (deemed "clean" foods according to the Torah), but of truly greater importance was WHO you ate with, as Jesus alluded. Proverbs 17:1 states: Better is a dry morsel in quietness than a house full of feasting with strife.  As Solomon points out, it is far better to have very little to eat with a small gathering in quietness rather than indulging oneself in the midst of contention. In this passage in Luke, Jesus emphatically points out that the Pharisees likewise have things backwards in their understanding. Not only should they humbly accept a lower station when invited as a guest into someone else's home, but when giving a banquet of their own, to not reciprocate by inviting those who had already done so in like manner. Instead, Jesus makes the distinction to invite those who cannot repay for in so doing the benevolent host would be rewarded in the life to come.

Probably one of the most beautiful descriptions of a banquet in all of scripture is one short verse in the Song of Solomon. In chapter two, verse four the bride of Solomon states: "He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love." What a glorious description of the bridegroom's love for his bride as he seals their marriage bonds by this magnificent love feast! While the sustenance of the feast is not discussed in this verse, the emphasis on Solomon's banner or tribute of love is heralded over his bride. Just as Jesus implied in Luke, the main importance was not in the food but in how one treated the guests they had invited. While Solomon's banquet is an extreme example of the type of love and camaraderie to be shown to those invited to a banquet, in God's eyes it should not be an understatement of intention to invite those whom you truly love and want to bless to share in a meal. Jude the brother of the Lord Jesus stated in Jude 12 that certainly feasting should be done with great care and affection for one another as he used the term "love feasts" to describe how the church came together to fellowship and to share a meal. (And how, in addition, others had used these opportunities to work mischief in the midst of the church.)

For most of us in today's world, the best that we can hope for regarding "love feasts" are an occasional "pot bless" (or "pot luck" if you prefer) at our respective churches or social gatherings. While many of us don't set banquets before the poor and unfortunate in our respective communities, there are other ways to give of our time, our money, and ultimately ourselves by providing "banquets of love" to those who cannot repay. In so doing, as Jesus stated, we are storing up dividends for ourselves on that glorious day of resurrection for the righteous. In Luke14:13, Jesus mentions those who are immobile twice -- the crippled and the lame. Jesus made numerous mentions regarding those who could not walk in the four Gospels. Many believe that the Lord has a special place in His heart for those who are immobile, because it is such a powerful metaphor for all of us before we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. We were all crippled by sin and immobile to do anything to save ourselves from the impending destruction that we all deserve. Yet, by the saving Grace of His Love, we are all made to walk again in newness of life by the life He gave to us. While much of the Body of Christ in today's world lacks the power to say "Rise up and walk", we still have the wonderful opportunity to help organizations that are representing the love of God upon this earth. While the Free Wheelchair Mission is a Christ-centered organization, countless recipients of wheelchairs are not Christian. Containers full of wheelchairs arrive regularly in areas of China or Tibet or the Middle East where the name of Jesus Christ is forbidden to be spoken. Yet, the caring hearts of those who work and/or volunteer for FWCM are fulfilling Christ's admonition by giving these a seat at this "banquet of love" of God's grace -- all for those who have no way to repay. I have talked to some who regularly give to FWCM. They give for this very reason -- that there is no way that those who receive a wheelchair will ever know the person who made their mobility possible. Those that give just know that Jesus commanded us all to provide seats of honor at God's "love feasts" for those who will never know anything other than someone far away loved them with the love of God.

Please consider donating to the Free Wheelchair Mission and fulfilling Jesus' commission to love those who are the weak and despised, those who are dirty and unlovable, yet those that He loves and desires to bring close to Him through the love and generosity of someone like yourself. May the Lord Jesus bless you as you extend life and dignity to another in a far away place!

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Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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