Luke 14:10, 13-14 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, Friend, go up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. . . . But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
The spirit of the world says: God helps those who help themselves. While we know this is not what God’s word says, yet the thought is often attractive, and we often focus on what we can do, unfortunately this is almost always leading us in the wrong direction, for almost always it leads us to trust in ourselves rather than to trust in God, so what do we hear in the text?
Do it yourself – honor and treasure? Do we humble ourselves, so that we might be lifted up by others – perhaps, but aren’t we more likely to put others down so as to lift ourselves up? That’s the way of the world – its not enough just to grumble, but if you can be clever in putting down others – the world will think well of you. Is that really the honor you want, is that the kind of person you desire to be – and if so, how does this square with being a child of God?
Do it yourself treasure, if you through a party, whom do you invite – the popular people, that way they will invite you back – after all the thing that matters is who you are seen with. Do we first ask what will we get, before we decide what we should give? That is the way of the world, it is not God’s way, who gives freely and to all – are we walking in God’s way, or the way of the world – that will tell us whose child we really are.
Feeling safe – caught by surprise – frightened – there was a time before this past week, when a child might fill a bag full of air, and pop it – we would be startled, but not afraid, how did the fear so quickly come into our lives?
We had a mighty fortress – but it was one of our own making, and we have learned that we were not as safe as we thought we were, and just as the building came tumbling down, so has our fortress, do we think that bombing the hell out of someone will make us safe again? We are frightened, and it is like being the emperor in the story of the emperor’s new clothes, for its one thing to be naked, its quite another thing for the world to see us naked.
But there is a mighty fortress – God has always been a mighty fortress, the problem is that we have wandered away from him – that’s how we got caught by surprise. Its then we remember that the gospel is not the story about what we can do for ourselves, but what God has done for us. Salvation – God’s gift of treasure and honor. The treasure – that’s the forgiveness of sins, peace and eternal life which are ours in Jesus Christ. The honor – that’s God adopting us in baptism to be his children, to give us his name, and to share with us his glory. But remember as good as that is, it misses the point – for the gospel is not about us, but about what God has done for us:
Christ – who humbled himself:
Philippians 2:6-8 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
Christ – who invites us to the feast:
1 Corinthians 10:16-17 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
Worship – returning thanks to God, and giving him the honor he has earned. That is one of the reasons why we gather – and yet, when we look at the bigger picture, even here, God is doing more for us, than we could ever hope of doing for him. This is our glorious God, he is as the psalm says:
Psalm 46:1-2 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;