“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:13-14 ESV)

Here we see Jesus at a dinner party given by one of the more prominent Pharisees. It appears that this Pharisee wanted to test Him or trip Him up with a question about the Law, whether to heal a man on the Sabbath. He used some poor guy who was suffering from some form of dropsy, a painful condition in which the extremities fill up with fluid. The pharisee used this man to try to trick Jesus to force him to make an incriminating or blasphemous statement. That was a breach of the rules of hospitality: rudeness to a guest.

But Jesus turned the tables on all the Pharisees present. He healed the poor man and then shamed the rest into silence by relating a couple of parables about the true nature of hospitality and the Kingdom of God. Jesus told those Pharisees and religious Jews who thought they were so sure of their place in the kingdom that they should not be so confident or self-righteous.

God calls whom He wishes into the Kingdom, but He is not obligated to those who reject Him. The Messiah was sent to the Jews but for the most part the nation of Israel rejected Him. As the invited guests they would not come into the Kingdom, the Lord would invite the least likely, the ones who don’t deserve it. They will come into God’s kingdom.

The lesson we learn is that we must care for the sick, the poor, the lonely, and the handicapped. We must show them the love of God. We must practice hospitality in the church by welcoming outsiders, visitors and strangers, even if they aren’t wealthy or good looking or even if they are odd, sinful or smelly. We must be kind to everyone we meet. Their only contact with Jesus may be through us and we certainly do not want to disgrace His name by messing that up.