“When one of those who reclined at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, ‘The one who will eat bread in the kingdom of God is blessed.” (Matthew 14:15)
A leading Pharisee, obviously well respected, a leader, invited Jesus to a meal. Jesus went. He noticed at the table how the invitees seemed to “jockey for position,” so He used a parable to teach them to practice humility. “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted,” He said. (Mark 14:11)
One invitee responded, “The one who will eat bread in the kingdom of God is blessed.” (verse 15) True enough, but not far enough. His response also built on some assumptions. In fact, the assumption all around the room was that all of them were already members of the kingdom of God by virtue of their heritage and were just awaiting the arrival of the Messiah. Jesus pierced their perceptions and saw in their hearts their need to learn the truth about blessings, especially the truth that it is more important to bless than be blessed.
Jesus told the parable of a man who gave a banquet and invited many. Without exception, all those invited began to make excuses. There were three types of excuses offered. First was the “investment excuse.” These folks had some estate or property or monetary issues that they needed to make their priority, so they excused themselves. Second was the “work excuse.” These had work priorities and couldn’t come. Third was the “responsibility excuse.” These had family responsibilities (“I just got married!”) and couldn’t come.
Enraged, the banquet giver told his servant to go out and bring in the poor, maimed, lame, and blind. That done there was still room, so the servant was told to go to the highways and lanes (where robbers and thieves abide) and bring them in. The banquet giver decreed that all those previously invited would not get a bite of his banquet.
Jesus then addressed the Pharisee host and advised him to not just give banquets for friends and family would could return the favor but also give banquets for the poor, maimed, lame, and blind who could not return the favor. Jesus told him that he would be blessed for this and repaid at the resurrection.
The Christ-way is to bless others, whether they cannot or will not bless you in return.
Lord, Help us today to practice blessing others, regardless of the personal outcome to us. Amen.