February 26 |Luke 14:1-24

festival-938253_960_720.jpgHere we get a series parables in which there is a whole host of ideas, but all seem to come back to one central theme, a theme that that been running through this entire Gospel: This kingdom of God thing is for everybody, but not just everybody; in particular it’s for the poor, the oppressed, the down-trodden, and the dismissed. It’s at this point (14 chapters in) that it’s important to remember that while this is indeed the Kingdom of God, the degree of focus on the poor, oppressed and down-trodden is Luke’s Jesus. Every Gospel does something a little different with who Jesus is. All four Gospels deal with a Jesus bringing the outsiders in, but perhaps none do so at the depth and frequency of Luke’s Jesus. And furthermore what Luke’s Jesus does is bring in the outsiders almost at the expense of the insiders.

Remember Jesus’ first public act in Luke is when he preached in the temple in chapter four. There he read from the prophet Isaiah about bringing good news to the poor, releasing the captives, giving sight to the blind and letting the oppressed go free. This was all fine and dandy with the people until he later explains what he means by this by sighting gentiles and outsiders of Israel’s past as examples of the focus of this work. When the people inside the temple realize that he is not talking about them, they get so angry with him that they try to throw him off a cliff. Les t’s that again: They get so angry with him that they try to throw him off a cliff! This is a polarizing Jesus.

Luke’s Jesus is, has been, and will continue to challenge the insular nature of this religious institution. If we are going to take an honest “Look at Luke”, we must do the same. We must step back, look at this Jesus and examine the degree to which our own religious institutions are serving  my or our needs above the needs of those living on the margins and in the shadows.

“For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner” (14:24) should give us great pause and cause great alarm. Are we so comfortable in our religious institutions and churches that we don’t even recognize our need to be with Jesus anymore?  By this mean I mean is Jesus having a banquet, and we’re so bored with it that we’re not even sure we’re going to come? If so, be careful.

The good news, though, also comes right before this. The slave says, “Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” There is still room. Beloved, it’s a big table. It’s a really, really big table. There’s still room.

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