Once again, Jesus’ message makes us a little uncomfortable. Did he not go a little too far when he tells us in Luke 14:25-33 "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple?”
We have all been involved in the planning of a party either as hosts or as guests. We have all experienced the initial excitement in discussing plans. But how many times do we renege or receive polite apologies when it comes time to commit? Are you or we coming to the party? Isn’t this a little how we feel in reading Luke’s gospel? How do we politely decline Jesus’ invitation to the banquet; it sounded so good in the planning stage but isn’t this a lot to ask of us right now; can I take a rain check? I’d like to but I’m not sure I have what it takes to get involved right now. I know He will understand.
After all these weeks we finally understand that Luke has a reason for speaking so directly to his audience, who while relatively affluent, was living in difficult times. Luke’s world was not a peaceful one; the Jews and early Christians faced a domination system that threatened their existence. In helping us understand Luke, David Steindl-Rast tells us that metaphor speaks to our intellect through our poetic sensibility. He suggests that reading the Bible or Gospel requires that we tune into the language of metaphor which asks that we take it seriously but not take it literally. And so it is in this reading of Luke.
Now back to Jesus’ invitation. I suppose we can ask for a rain check but in the long… and short run, we are hurting ourselves. By saying “no” to Jesus’ invitation- “maybe later” - we are denying ourselves the opportunity to experience the Kingdom of God not just later, but right now, here in the present. Living for others out of our love for God, is the only way to find joy, peace, and a repaired relationship with God and each other in this world and in the hereafter. This is at the heart of Luke’s gospel and at the heart of Christianity.
By now we’ve learned that following Jesus is more than just sitting back and listening to a beloved teacher. Jesus’ words are meant to get us to move and to give up those things that get in the way and to surrender to His will. In essence this is what it means to be transformed in His likeness and what it means to be part of the “Body of Christ.” We don’t want to miss this party