In this life so much of our economy, politics, religion, relationships and families are based upon the motivational summary — “We all get what we deserve.” Right? Athletic teams when they are working out in the gym and they are completely drenched in sweat, will hear their coach yell, “Earn it!”
I remember when Redmond Junior High won the National Jazz Competition (this was many years ago before some of you were born), but I am sure others will remember that great moment also. The director of this jazz group became a legend because he could motivate kids to work harder than practically any other program in the nation; and they had fun in the process. We all want to teach our kids that if they want good grades they will have to earn them.
In the middle of this known life axiom, which has been around since the beginning of humanity, we see a strange parable by Jesus in which he is talking about undeserved honor. It almost sounds like a concept from another planet. When I first read Pastor Ben McCary’s sermon title, I was thinking about what goes through the mind of a war hero when they receive a medal for heroism from a grateful nation. They always sound authentically humble. It seems out of place, but it is so honest that every time it takes us back a bit in trying to understand what they have been through. This is true of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, WW2 and on and on. They will often say something like this —“the real heroes didn’t make it home and I accept this for them.” They receive the medal gratefully, but still feeling like it is an undeserved honor. For those of us who are thankful for their service we can think of no reason why they feel this way, after all, they earned it. Where is the contradiction?
Jesus dives into that issue in Luke chapter 14, (in which Pastor Ben will bring us all to a unique understand this coming weekend) where Jesus uses a wedding feast, not to destroy the idea of working hard and earning what you get in life, but to introduce the idea of grace and undeserved honor. He tells a parable of what it would be like if you were a wedding crasher, (my words not Jesus) and you sat in the seat of honor to get the best view, drink and food. What would happen when you are found out? Of course, you would be given the worst seat in the house. Because that is the way the world works… (again my words not Jesus). Don’t you invite guests to your wedding who can repay you by inviting you back to theirs? What would it feel like if a host invited the least-deserving people in the community and put them in a place of honor and treated them with the respect that the most-deserving person should be given. That would be crazy, right? (Again, my words not Jesus.) Jesus is showing us a picture of grace in the kingdom and how a hero feels receiving a medal and feeling it is because of the heroes who gave their lives so that he could be there. This single idea could change your view of the world and how you relate to people. It could take our church another step towards being a healing place of what seems like crazy love.
Don’t miss this insightful message,
Your friend for the rest of my life,
Pastor Tim White