When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!
“Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
(Luke 14:7-11, New Living Translation)
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God ... began to wash the disciples’ feet.
(John 13:3, 5, English Standard Version)
Today’s Reading: Luke 14
I crashed a wedding once.
Technically speaking, it wasn’t completely out of line, since I tagged along with friends who were invited. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to keep a low profile.
The wedding was beautiful, but the reception dinner was exquisite. Each table, covered with crisp white linens and set with fresh green salads, hinted at an elaborate feast to come. One lone table stood in the center of the room. Reserved for the bridal party, it was set apart from the rest by towering centerpieces and candlelight. When we struggled to find enough empty seats, I grew worried that there wouldn’t be a place for me at all. “What if we just sit here?” I joked, motioning to the seats of honor.
Can you imagine if I had taken my place there? Picture the look on the face of the bride, groom and, most importantly, the mother of the bride upon finding an uninvited stranger sitting in their place of honor.
In Luke 14, Jesus watched those invited to the house of a prominent Pharisee jockey for the most impressive seats at the table. They all wanted to be first. It’s possible that many believed they deserved the best seat in the house.
Instead of praising them for seeking their own interest, Jesus painted a picture of the ultimate glory of humility. Jesus consistently proclaimed a kingdom much different than the one that those waiting on the Messiah expected: one where “the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16, ESV).
From His birth in a lowly manger to His death on a criminal’s cross, Jesus demonstrated this “inverted” kingdom. At His last supper, Jesus chose not to be served but to serve (see Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45), washing the feet of each of His disciples — even the one who would betray Him.
In both His words and actions, Jesus called His disciples to live out and enjoy the benefits of His “upside-down” kingdom. And He calls you today to do the same.
Jesus, thank You for demonstrating a life of humility, from birth to death. Like the Pharisees and the disciples, I also strive for “places of honor.” Remind me that the ways of Your kingdom are different from the world’s ways. I don’t have to elevate myself because You’ve already given me a place of honor at Your table. As I wait with patience this Advent season, help me to also “wait on” others, placing them above myself, not for attention but as an act of love and obedience to You.
Tracy Pierson lives and works with the inner city ministry of Cru® in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She shepherds ministry leaders, artists and community leaders to work toward unity and the good of the city. She has only ever crashed one wedding — and one Halloween party.
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