While I’m waiting for my flight at the departure gate, I observe how the gatekeeper calls passengers to proceed for boarding according to their seating group. I watch all the important people go first: Business class /First Class, Gold flyers, and so on. Finally, they get to zone 4, zone 3, zone 2 , zone 1 , and I get to board the plane. On the way to my seat in economy class, I pass through first class where I see people already seated, beginning to enjoy the comfort of their seats and beverages. Some of them frowning as if blaming me for delaying the plane’s departure. Can you imagine how embarrassed I would be if I tried to sit in an empty first-class seat, only to be told in no uncertain terms that I did not qualify in the Business class.
Jesus envisioned a similar situation, one that fits his own cultural background. Suppose, he said, you attend a wedding feast and sit in a seat at the head table. How will you feel when you are unceremoniously booted from your seat of honour? To be safe, Jesus advised, “take the lowest place at the foot of the table” (14:10). Then, you might very well be promoted to a better seat. What point was Jesus trying to make? He summed it up in verse 11: “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Jesus was thinking of more than a wedding here. He was using the wedding analogy to communicate something about the kingdom of God.
You could hear Jesus’ statement as a word of rebuke, especially if you tend to seek your own position and glory. Yet, you could also hear this as a word of invitation to a better and freer way of living. Jesus brought forth into the world something called the “Upside-Down Kingdom.” It is a Kingdom that says, “Do you want to be exalted, you must humble yourself. If you want to live, you must die. If you want to be the greatest, you must become the least.” It would be an ‘upside down’ kingdom, one in which the “first class flyers” would be sent to “economy class” while the lowly would be lifted up.
The manor of humility was a path that Jesus walked for 33 years while living on this planet. As his children, he calls us to follow His example.
“…so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him”. (John 13:4,5)
Prayer Lord, I fall in humility and gratitude before You. What love was expressed by the holy Son of God, profaned, and broken like a common thief for the sins of others. May I remember this love as I fall in humility before You. Amen.