Parable of the Lowest Seat at the Banquet: Luke 14:7-14
Jesus tells this parable of the lowest seat at the banquet in response to what he sees at a meal that he has been invited to.
Jesus has been invited to eat with a Pharisee on the Sabbath. 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 the place of honor, but then discover that the host has invited a more "important" person. The host may then request that you take a lower seat, or even the lowest seat, and you would be embarrassed and disgraced in front of everyone.
For this reason, Jesus tells them that they should instead assume they are the least-important person at the banquet and 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.
As with most of his parables, Jesus is not speaking of worldly banquets, but the kingdom of God. The Heavenly Father is the host, and Jesus is speaking of humility in God's kingdom, which he clarifies by saying, "For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." (Luke 14:11)
Jesus then speaks directly to the person who invited him, telling 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 repay him, but the poor, crippled, lame, and blind cannot repay. 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)
Although Jesus is using a banquet as an illustration, it is clear that he is speaking of the kingdom of God (as he does in the Parable of the Great Feast).
says that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, which means that
people who proclaim themselves, saying, "Look at me! Follow me! Support me! Look at what I have done!" will be humbled before God.
However, those who are humble and view themselves as a servant of all, will be exalted by God as the greatest in the kingdom of God. Jesus makes this point clear in Matthew 18:4, as well as Matthew 23:11-12 saying, "The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted."
Jesus also teaches this in The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:14.
Jesus then teaches 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 (since salvation is impossible for mortals to obtain by our own strength - Matthew 19:26), and Jesus was rewarded by the Father with all power and authority (Matthew 28:19), and exalted to the highest possible position (Philippians 2:9).
Likewise, 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.
For a convenient PDF/eBook version of all Jesus' parables, download Understanding the 40 Parables of Jesus Christ. This 126 page eBook also includes supplemental information for understanding these parables.