Turn in your Bible to Luke 14:7-24. Jesus, in this passage, is at a party, and He makes some comments about the etiquette of the guests and the host at the party. By the time He finishes this encounter, He has turned the party image into a discussion about the establishment of God's kingdom. As we look at the passage, I want you to see three parts to it. Jesus here speaks about humility, He speaks about generosity, and He speaks about the invitation list to God's final party.

I. Jesus Calls His Disciples to Humility

The first thing I want you to see is the humility that Jesus speaks of in verses 7 to 11. While He's at this party He's noticing how people are positioning themselves to be in the most important seats. Most of us have been to a gathering where there was a certain person we really wanted to talk to. There were important people who were going to be there, and they’re the ones that we want to see, and we position ourselves in the room to make sure that we get to see those people. Jesus was observing something like this among the guests at the party. Look at verse 7: “He told a parable to those who were invited when He noticed how they chose the places of honor.” Notice how He ends His words to them in verse 11: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” This is an important statement of Jesus about the need to cultivate habits of humility.

It's interesting that the passage doesn't say, "Jesus is too holy ever to go to a party.” Jesus is found at parties all the time in the gospels, but even when He's at parties He's thinking about what is most important. He's exhorting these people who are trying to position themselves to be humble instead. Why? Well, in part, because pride is something that can keep you from the party at the end that God is going to throw.

He's also saying this because His disciples are characterized by humility. I love what J.C. Ryle says about this passage. He calls humility the "queen of the Christian graces" that distinguishes Christians from other people. He also remarks that humility ultimately springs from a right knowledge of ourselves and of God, because we know ourselves to be sinners unworthy of God's mercy. Jesus in this passage reminds us of this. At the end it is clear that one of the points that He is making is that, whereas the religious people of Israel have rejected Him, the Gentiles will receive Him. Our attitude to being at the party must simply be, “How in the world did I get on this guest list? I'm among the crippled and the lame and the blind and the poor!” That's the attitude of the true believer.

II. Jesus Calls His Disciples to Generosity

Having addressed the guests who were jockeying for position, Jesus now speaks to the host of the party. Look at verse 12: “He said also to the man who invited Him, ‘When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbors. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.’” Now Jesus has said something very provocative at this dinner party. He turns to the host and He begins to critique his guest list! Can you imagine what that did to the conversation? Jesus is saying to this man who has invited Him to this very nice dinner party, “Next time you give a dinner party, don't invite the wealthy and prominent. Invite some smelly outcasts.”

Jesus is not saying this to tell us that we can't ever have friends and family on our party lists but to emphasize the importance of His disciples taking care of those who are poor and overlooked by everybody else. He spotted in this host's attitude something that was self-serving. His guest list indicated that he wanted to get status and or some reciprocal invitations to good parties.

Jesus is saying to His disciples, “You ought not to look at people and ask, ‘What can I get out of them?’ but ‘What is my opportunity to give in this situation that couldn't be given back to me?’” Notice how He says, “You invite them,” verse 12, “in order to be repaid, but when you give a feast, invite those who cannot repay you.” It's an exhortation for Jesus' disciples to care for the poor and those who cannot repay them. Jesus is indicating here the kind of unselfish concern and generous care that His followers will show to those who are disadvantaged.

III. Jesus Calls His Disciples to the Party

That rather awkward exhortation at the dinner party apparently leads someone to break the silence with these words in verse 15: “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” That statement is true, but it seems to be attempting to downplay the radical thing Jesus has just said about the crippled and the lame and the blind and the poor. It's almost as if Jesus replies, “It may surprise you who's there and who's not there at the party at the end of time.”

In verses 16 to 24 Jesus begins to describe a typical circumstance for an invitation to some kind of banquet. In Two invitations would have been sent out for parties, one for advance notice and one on the day of the party, which was delivered personally. In this story all of the people that had been given the original invitations start making excuses as to why they can't come. None of the excuses are for doing bad things. They’re good things, but they’re excuses for not coming to the party.

What is Jesus saying here? In part He's speaking to the Jewish people of His own time who thought, “Those people that are crippled, lame, blind, and poor, clearly God's judgment is on them. The kind of people that are going to be at the party at the kingdom at the end, they’re righteous Jewish citizens, well-respected in their community, many of them wealthy.” But Jesus says, “Actually the invitation list is going to have none of them. It's going to be the crippled, the poor, the lame, and the blind.” Notice how He says this in such a dramatic way: “I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my banquet.”

Jesus is also saying that over-concern with this world can keep us from the party. Those who are invited missed the party because they cared about their own business more than the party that God is going to throw in His kingdom. And the people that ended up being there didn't deserve to have an invitation to the party, but they cared more about God's party than anything else.

Jesus is giving a solemn warning to all of us. In this passage, as it speaks of humility and generosity, it's very apparent to me that this is uniquely applicable to us. And Jesus’ message is, “Don't miss the real party.” That's a timely message for us, don't you think?