So they were him watching carefully (Luke 14: 1 – 14). Not it would seem as a means of learning and hopeful anticipation of any notable manifestation of the kingdom of God; rather waiting to find out how he might incriminate himself further after his outburst against that ‘fox’ Herod. Was it a watching and waiting to see him fall rather than be raised up?
After another Sabbath healing at the synagogue which left the religious with nothing to say, we find Jesus has accepted an invitation to eat at the home of a leading religious leader, along with a group of his colleagues. The opportunity was being offered for networking; or, was it a means of trying to control and contain both Jesus and his message through bringing him into their fold. Was he supposed to be grateful for the invitation?
The purpose of networking is to nurture a relationship of reciprocal benefit. It is a something for something relationship that seeks to scratch your back now so that you will scratch my back later. It is a relationship based on what I can get rather than what I might be able to offer. This may be acceptable in the way the world works but is this how Jesus indicates the kingdom of God works?
Was Jesus left to linger at the back of the room without being shown any honour on behalf of his Father’s calling while watching the movers and shakers, whose inconsistencies seem to have subverted his sense of honour, take the best seats by way assumption based on entitlement, expectation and ambition. But is this how honour is to be assigned? By status? Position? Privilege? Wealth? Education?
But what of sacrifice?
They may have been watching him, but so also was he watching them!
What Jesus appears to have seen is a network of quietist religious sameness whose members were competing, within a culture of homogenous exclusivity, for the honour of the best seats. Wherein then is honour to be found?
Perhaps, the host should have known better. According to Luke, Jesus had already set out his stall in frustration against the religio-political leadership and in despair for Jerusalem. If nothing then we find here a consistency of Jesus in his sense of call, purpose and life. The kingdom of God was not to be characterised by the dishonour of homogeneous exclusivity but rather by the honour of diverse inclusivity. Here, those who had nothing to offer ‘the network’ were given an equal, if not higher, place than those with a sense of expectation, entitlement and anticipation who will, in turn, be removed to their seat of humiliation at the back of the room.
The network of God is never a relationship of repayment and reward; it is only ever a relationship of grace and generosity which brings resurrection for the righteous.
So in this week to come
- What networks do I belong to and why?
- How can church function as an ‘honouring’ network?
- Whom do I honour and why?
- What homogeneous exclusivity can I challenge?
- What diverse inclusivity can I promote?
Lord, have mercy…