Jesus is speaking to a gathering at a prominent Pharisee’s home when He shares a parable that ends with:
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. Luke 14:13-14
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus would make a particular point to invite those who are the outcasts of society to the home of one who is the most prosperous? This amazing passage is captured by Luke and printed in red letters in my Bible — the very words of Jesus. Please pause and let that sink in.
Will Be Blessed
The NIV Application Commentary authors seem to be captivated by this passage as well. I love their thoughts here:
Though those invited cannot repay, God will reward such care in the resurrection to come (1 Cor. 4:5). Again, the promise of reward is expressed in the passive voice (“will be blessed”), which means that God gives the response. He commends those who reach out to the needy and minister to them, often in quiet ministries that no one ever sees. True righteousness does not look for a payback but is offered free of charge, graciously, just as God in Christ has forgiven us free of charge (Eph. 4:32; 5:2). NIVAC Note
Some Context for the Passage
Let’s zoom out just a bit and see if we can discern why Jesus choose this as the appropriate parable. If it helps, here’s a post I wrote a few years ago surrounding this passage: Jesus and the Pharisees.
The first words of chapter 14 provide the setting, and it’s anything but ordinary. First of all, it’s on the Sabbath, and secondly, it involves a prominent Pharisee. Crazy. Luke makes a special note that Jesus was being carefully watched, so what does Jesus do? He heals someone as they watch — dumbfounded.
One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way. Luke 14:1-4
As I dwell on the section today, I’m struck by the scene in which the parable is presented. To begin with, this is in the home of a significant Pharisee. In today’s terms, that probably would look like a large house that would require an access code to get past a gate at the end of a long driveway.
How did Jesus get invited to the party?
There’s an incredible lesson to be learned from this alone. Not only did Jesus get invited, but He turned around and healed someone on the Sabbath, and they didn’t kick him out. The man who was healed was one of the main characters in his parable. He was unable to work because of some sickness, but Jesus was able to heal him and send him on his way. Surely the Pharisees and all those gathered had never witnessed a miracle such as this!
Jesus then looked around and addressed the way they invited the guests and how they seated them in places of honor in the form of a parable. These were intelligent men. They understood what was going on. Read the following verse:
When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Luke 14:15
Yes! Blessed is the one invited to the feast!
Jesus drives home the point that those invited are not people who look like they should be in attendance. Those who are too busy, proud, successful, or too important won’t be at the banquet.
It seems that Jesus prefers the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. Perhaps there’s something to learn from His example.
Not my words. His.
NIVAC Note. Wilkins, Michael J.. NIVAC Bundle 6: Gospels, Acts (The NIV Application Commentary). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.