“Lose your kickball scrimmage?” Dad asked. Jason buckled his seatbelt.
“No. It’s Adrian again.”
“The boy who uses a wheelchair?” Dad grinned. “He’s funny.”
“Dad! Should you say that about someone who can’t walk?”
“Why not? He wears a T-shirt that says ‘A Wheelchair Is How I Roll.'” Dad put the car in reverse. “He must have a great sense of humor.”
“I don’t know why he wants to play with us anyway.” Jason shoved his dirty sneakers into his duffle bag. “Don’t they have Special Olympics for kids like him? He should just play with his own kind of kids.”
Dad put the car in gear. “Grab the Bible out of the glove compartment, Jason. I want to show you something.” Jason sighed. “You don’t have to read me a Bible verse about being nice, Dad. I didn’t do anything mean to Adrian.” “Just turn to 2 Samuel 9.” He waited for Jason to read the passage. “Well?”
“I get it,” Jason said. “King David asks if there’s anyone left in his friend Jonathan’s family and learns Jonathan has a son named Mephibosheth who’s lame. So David finds him and tells him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness…and you shall eat bread at my table continually.'”
“King David didn’t ignore Mephibosheth or make him sit a separate table for people with disabilities,” Dad said. “David included him. That story is a picture of what Jesus does for us. He died so we could be included at His table, even though we’re sinners. And He wants us to include others.”
Jason twitched his eyebrows the way he always did when he was thinking. “But how can we include Adrian? You have to run in kickball. He can’t run.”
“That’s your puzzle to solve,” Dad said.
The next afternoon on the kickball diamond, Jason assigned positions to his team’s players.
“Who’s pitching?” someone asked.
Someone on the sideline caught Jason’s eye. Adrian.
“Wait.” Jason jogged over to where Adrian sat. “Can you pitch? You just have to roll the ball to the kicker.”
Adrian’s face lit up, and he patted his chair. “I’m an expert at rolling. I’d love to pitch!”
Do you include everyone you can in games and other activities, even if it takes some extra effort to include someone with a special need? We all have a need for Jesus. If He hadn’t died for us, we could never be included in His reward in heaven. How can you show others His kindness by including them?
Imagine this scene, if you will. A husband comes home from work on a Friday night. As he drives into the driveway, he sees that there is a rented tent in the backyard. Under the tent are tables and chairs for about forty people. A bandstand and dance floor are assembled in one corner of the tent. Paper lanterns are hanging all around. None of this was there when the husband left for work that morning. Seeing all these preparations and having them come as a surprise, what do you think the husband might think?
His first reaction might be one of panic: “Good Lord! It’s our anniversary and somehow I’ve forgotten! Judging by the preparations, it might must be a big one!” If he does some quick math and realizes that it isn’t their 20th, 30th or 40th, he might continue thinking, “I guess all this must be for another party that I forgot about.”
Imagine he walks into the backyard and sees his wife furiously basting a dozen chickens and discovering a pile of choice steaks in a nearby cooler. What might he think then? Probably, “This one’s going to cost me a bundle!”
Then suppose his wife looks up, smiles sweetly and asks, “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” Now his guess might be: “Relatives, longtime friends, neighbours and business associates.” but before he can answer, she continues” I’ve invited twenty homeless men from the local homeless shelter, a family of refugees and all the residents of a group home. Don’t worry, dear, you won’t know a soul. And best of all, not a single one is likely to ever pay us back!”
Given that situation, how do you think the husband might react? Don’t you think he might think his dear wife was behaving a bit oddly?
Yet, God bless her, she would be literally following the words of Jesus in the passage from Luke’s Gospel: “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
In the passage we heard from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus seems to be changing all the usual rules of behaviour. He is suggesting that the rule of life is “love, not law.” The Pharisees were more concerned with keeping the law and society’s customs.
As a church and as Christians, we want to be sure that we have not erected social barriers that keep some people from joining us at the Lord’s Table. People should feel comfortable around the Lord’s Table even if they don’t speak the majority’s language and are not native born; come from a different economic status; are divorced, gay or single parents; are not as well educated; aren’t descended from those who originally built the church; are unemployed, handicapped, etc. Jesus broke through the barriers society and religion have built.
All of us have certain religious rules that we live by. One of them might be that whenever possible we attend church on Sunday. It’s a good rule to keep, but there is a danger that in keeping that rule we might feel superior to other people who seldom (if ever) attend church. We are in trouble if we use the rules to justify ourselves and feel more righteous than others. In the Christian life, we need to love our neighbours and put their interests ahead of following rules.
Guests at ancient dining tables chose their places carefully. The most honoured guests (those highest on the social ladder) sat close to the host, while the less honoured sat farther away. Jesus gave this teaching not only to exhort humanity but to discourage social ladder-climbing. He says that being humble is more important that being esteemed.
Jesus reinforced the definition of unconditional love: giving to people who have absolutely no ability to pay back what is owed. How does our viewpoint change when we hang out with the outcast, the friendless and the downtrodden? It is here among the lowly that we embrace our own lowliness, explore our own disabilities and find a sense of humility. When we interact with marginalized people we can’t be the same.
Being at the back of the line brings with it an assumption that we will have to eat the crumbs and the leftovers after everyone else has eaten the good stuff. In God’s kingdom, there is no limit to the good stuff. The concept of limited resources doesn’t apply to God. He is boundless. No one can outgive God. Any kind deed or blessing that we bestow on someone else in Jesus’ name and for His sake will be repaid by God in abundance. God loves to reward His faithful people.
When Jesus calls us to act humbly, we can be sure that He wants our humility to be genuine. Genuine humility has its roots in the realization that we are sinners who need forgiveness. Genuine thankfulness has its roots in the realization that God has forgiven our sins.
Those neglected by our society not only need our material gifts, they also need the dignity that comes with being acknowledged; they need the gift of our friendship-and we need theirs as well. Together with them, we will experience the God Jesus has revealed to us, who loves us, not because we are distinguished or esteemed in our world, but because God has chosen to love us- rich and poor, haves and have-nots.
If we invite the less fortunate, we might enter into new relationships. Not only would the poor be cared for, but we would discover the Christ who identifies most clearly with them. In addition, we might serve Christ and not know it, because He might be disguised as a poor person.
Benevolence is serving someone who can’t serve us back. Because they can’t repay us. we will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. On that day, Jesus will reward us. It’s a win-win deal. While He is working through us here on earth, we will be blessed. When we see Jesus face to face, we will be blessed again for what we did.
Jesus said these radical words as He sat at a meal given by a Pharisee. Real love is radical. Love is giving to meet the needs of others without expecting anything in return. To put it another way, someone once said that true love means caring for someone else more than you care about yourself. That’s how much Jesus loved us. He loved us so much that He gave His life for us.
Jesus is not telling us to be lazy. He is telling us to use our talents as best we can. They are gifts from God. They will not only benefit us, but they can be used for the well-being of others. We have to consider our reasons for doing what we do. As Christians we try to share the gifts of life we have not to stand out, but so that others can stand up with us, enjoy life and celebrate the God who has blessed us.
When we live by God’s rules, we don’t help others to get something back. We help others to help them. We do something good because it’s good. We give others a blessing because Jesus taught us to do that. When we live by God’s rules, we start from a different place and end up in a different place. When we live by God’s rules, we don’t calculate what we can get, but what we can give.
God’s economy is contrary to the world’s economy. The world emphasizes getting ahead and becoming prominent. God tells us that if we want to be great, we have to be humble. If we want self-fulfillment, we should seek the fulfillment of others. We want to find happiness and joy in the right place or the right person. That person is God. As we come to know and walk with Him, we will find something that is better than happiness, and that something is joy. We will find joy in all our circumstances-both good and bad.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p.1415)
- “Let’s Roll.” R etrieved from email@example.com
- Larsen, B. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 26: Luke (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1983; pp. 225-226)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN” Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, 22nd Sunday, -C-.” Retrieved form firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pete Briscoe, “Experiencing Life Today-May 19, 2015.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- Jennifer Benson Schuldt, “Radical Love.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Pastor Greg Laurie, “The Divine Paradox.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- Alex Gondola, Jr.< “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” Retrieved form www.sermonsuite.com
- Richard Niell Donovan, “Exegesis for Luke 14:1,7-14.” Retrieved from www.lectionary.org