But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher;” then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you.
Read Luke 14:7-11
Don’t you just hate it when you have been invited to a great banquet and you see all of those perfectly appointed tables, except there are no place cards?
Don’t you just hate it when there are place cards and you must work the maze of tables by weaving in and out among them to find your assigned seat?
Don’t you just hate it when no one is in charge of seating, who could then direct you to your place rather than you selecting a place for yourself?
Don’t you just hate it when you have taken a seat only to learn later it has been designated for another guest at the banquet? How embarrassing!
Place cards and an attendant can address this situation so that the guest is not embarrassed or uncomfortable in having chosen a seat the host may have reserved for another. In the parable of a great wedding banquet that Jesus tells, there are no place cards and there is not an attendant!
The guest must decide for himself where he will sit. The problem is that the guest chose a place of honor at the table that the host intended for another guest. Later the host comes with the guest whose seat you are occupying and he asks you to vacate the seat in favor of this other guest. You are embarrassed because you chose a place of honor and then you are escorted to a table in the corner by the kitchen door with all of the kitchen sounds and voices.
Jesus does give wise counsel as to what such a guest should do. Jesus suggests that it is better for the guest to choose the lowest place and be invited by the host to move up higher and be honored in the presence of all who sit at that table. Jesus’ affirms, “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
As Presbyterians, who usually prefer to avoid the seats/pews at the front, this practice should not pose many problems for us, but then maybe that seating applies only to worship. When it comes to a banquet, we might opt to sit on the dais where the special guests are seated and served first or which is closest to the buffet table. If that is the case, let us remember Jesus’ teaching: “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
O Lord, we thank You for providing a place for us in God’s house and at Your table. Guard us from exalting ourselves and reveal to us the blessedness of being humble. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.