29. Parable of the Lowest Seat at the Banquet
Jesus tells this parable of the lowest seat at the banquet in response to what he sees at a meal he has been invited to.
Context and Summary of
the Parable of the Lowest Seat at the Banquet
Jesus has been invited to eat a meal with a Pharisee on the Sabbath (which is the day when no work is supposed to be done).
At this meal, Jesus "noticed how the guests chose the places of honor." (Luke 14:7)
In response to what he observes, he tells them a parable regarding banquets.
Jesus proposes a situation: what if you sit at a place of honor, but then the host has invited a more "important" person.
The host then may request that you take a lower seat, or even the lowest one, and you would be embarrassed and disgraced in front of everyone.
For this reasons, Jesus tells them that, instead, they should assume they are the least-important person at the banquet and thus take the lowest seat.
Then, if the host decides they are more important, they will be honored in front of everyone when he tells them to take a higher seat.
Jesus thus makes his overall point: "For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." (Luke 14:11)
Jesus then speaks to the person who invited him.
He tells the Pharisee that he should give a banquet for the poor, crippled, lame, and blind, instead of his friends, family, and rich neighbors.
The reason is because his friends, family, and rich neighbors can surely pay him back; however, the poor, crippled, lame, and blind cannot pay him back.
Jesus finishes with his point: "And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:14)
Meaning of the Parable of the Lowest Seat at the Banquet
Although Jesus is using a banquet as an illustration, it is clear that he is directing his listeners to greater truths.
(The banquet is just an example of that truth being applied to life in a practical way.)
Jesus says that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, which means that people who try to make it all about themselves, saying, "Hey everyone! Look at me! Follow me! Support me!" will be humbled.
However, those who are humble, and view themselves as a servant of all, they will be exalted by God.
Jesus also makes this same point in these sections:
- Matthew 18:4, when Jesus talks about true greatness.
- Matthew 23:11-12, when Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites and explains why.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
Jesus then makes the point that giving to those who cannot repay us is a blessing, because we will instead be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
A perfect example is Jesus himself, who by being sacrificed for our sins has done something that none of us could ever repay, and he was instead rewarded by God with all power and authority (Matt. 28:19), and exalted to the highest possible position (Philippians 2:9).
Similarly, when we provide and give to those who can never repay us, we are blessed because we will instead be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
It is important to note that the suggestion Jesus gave to the Pharisee to invite the poor, cripple, lame, and blind, is not symbolic in any way.
Normally, we might give our point first and then an example of how to apply it to our lives.
Jesus is likewise giving the Pharisee an example of applying the point (which he states afterwards) to the Pharisee's life in a practical way.
Go to previous parable: 28. Barren Fig Tree
Go to next parable: 30. The Great Dinner (Feast)
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