Read: Luke 14:1-24
Ministry: Inviting People with Intellectual Disabilities to the Banquet
Missionaries: Mike, Michelle and Evan
Jesus isn’t a safe person to invite for dinner. One Pharisee found that out the hard way.
Good dinner guests compliment the host and avoid controversial topics (religion and politics). Jesus isn’t a good dinner guest. Even before entering the house, things get awkward. Mosaic Law was clear about people with skin diseases; they’re unclean and untouchable (Leviticus 13). So when a disabled man appeared “suffering from abnormal swelling of his body,” everyone was nervous.
Jesus broke the silence with religion and politics, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” More silence. Then Jesus does the unthinkable. He wraps his arms around this unclean, disabled man and heals him. Has Jesus just defiled himself? I’m sure the host was thinking, “What was I thinking inviting Jesus to dinner?” Jesus asks more awkward questions with more awkward silence as everyone shuffles inside.
While the guests start jockeying for the best seats, Jesus tells them a parable about a bunch of self-righteous people jockeying for the best seats and then turns to the host and criticizes his pathetic choice of guests. Controversy, defilement and insults. This dinner is a train-wreck.
Next, Jesus launches into another equally insulting parable about a great banquet. The respectable invited guests had better things to do. So, the host instructed his servants to hit the streets to round up the poor and disabled and “compel them to come.”
The parable symbolizes “the feast in the kingdom of God,” the end goal of the Great Commission (i.e. people from every tribe, tongue and nation gathered at Jesus’ Marriage Banquet). Though everyone is invited, the poor, disabled and others on the margins get special invitations. And, we (Jesus’ servants) are commissioned to “compel them to come.”
Since Jesus asked awkward questions, I will too. But, they are equally awkward for me as well. Who is seated around our church’s tables? Mostly respectable members of the community? If so, I’m not sure Jesus would be a safe guest around that table.
In Southeast Asia, we are building an inclusive community that welcomes people with intellectual disabilities and their families to Jesus’ table. Most of the families we are currently connecting with are not suffering from poverty. So, I’m challenged to find ways of including the poor as well.
Pray: Please pray for God to send out more servants specifically to invite the poor, the disabled and others on the margins to the Great Banquet.