We are still with Jesus at the home of one of the Pharisees. He was invited to dinner after the Sabbath service. From our reading yesterday we saw the every Pharisee eye was on Jesus during this dinner, but Jesus’ eyes were also on the Pharisees. He has been watching their behavior and is going to address some of it. I think this is one dinner NO ONE will ever forget.
The Pharisees are at the “top of the food chain” in religious, social and political circles. They are the lawyers, doctors, and the very rich. They are a puffed up bunch. And they don’t hide that fact at all. Jesus has talked about how they put on a show religiously in front of people. They LOVE to be praised. As my mom would say, “Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back!” These were the men at dinner with Jesus.
The dinner tables had reserved seating for the honored guests. Many of us do the same in our homes today. The head of the table is reserved for the most senior guest. That’s how it was at Jesus’ dinner. I wonder where they seated Jesus. I wonder if there were squabbles over who got the higher seat.
Apparently it was the host’s job to maintain the order of ranking at dinner. We often use place cards for more formal dinners so seating is easier to manage. I’m assuming the dinner we are looking at today was similar to any other affair in Jesus’ time. When the guests walked in they were to seat themselves in the places they thought they should occupy. This left everyone on the “honor system” as to where they really felt they belonged. That works when one really has a sense of rank, but falls short when one thinks too highly of themselves. The host had veto power over all the seating. He has ranked his guest in his own mind and will place them where appropriate once everyone is in attendance. Imagine the shame of being told to move because someone more worthy was supposed to be sitting where you sat. Or the joy of being told to move up because you are more valued than you think.
This is how it is in the Kingdom of God. He ranks us according to His priorities. He reserves a special place for each of us, but He is the one who chooses where that place is and what He is judging on. We are to come humbly and wait for Him to show us our place.
My husband and I were talking about this together. Neither of us feels we will be given high honors and said we would be grateful simply to be in the room. We would gladly be servants at His table, simply to be with Him. I wonder if that is the way true followers of Jesus feel. Is that how Billy Graham feels? Or does serving in such a public way bring a sense of more worth to the person? I’m thinking that a room full of TRUE servants would have every one of them trying to serve one another instead of waiting to be served.
Jesus is, was, and will forever be the most worthy and honored guest in any setting. Yet He set aside everything to become servant to all. He even set aside His robe and took up the position of the lowest servant when He washed His disciples’ feet. If I could be one tenth the servant He is I would be overjoyed! I wonder where He was placed at this dinner. We know He didn’t head for the highest seat in the room.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your servant’s heart. Thank You that You set aside everything to care for me. I DO NOT deserve it! I will take any place You have for me, even that of washing feet, in your Kingdom. I simply want to be with You. I know You count me as worthy, even when I see no worth in myself. Help me to see myself through Your eyes. Help me to focus on the things You count as valuable, not on what the world does. I want to make You proud of me but to NEVER become prideful myself. Hold my heart in Your hands and make me into what You have designed for me to be. I am Your servant. Show me where and how to serve.