I love the complexity of Jesus. One minute he’s feasting with “tax collectors and sinners” and on the receiving end of the Pharisees’ scorn (Luke 5:29-30), the next minute he’s “[dining] at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees” (Luke 14:1). It seems that Jesus is an equal-opportunity eater.
Nevertheless, it’s at this table that Jesus made a profound statement meant to pierce the Pharisee’s heart – one that should continue to pierce our hearts some 2,000 years later. After telling a short story about the embarrassment of being kicked out of the wrong seat at a wedding feast, Jesus punctuates the parable with the following statement: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (v. 11).
According to the gospel narratives, the Pharisees loved to be seen, celebrated, and exalted (see Matthew 6:5, 16). But according to Jesus, this was a fast-track to humiliation; walking in humility, however, was the sure path to exaltation.
What a timely word for us in a day in age in which everyone seems to be scrambling to build their own platform. “Look at me! Pay attention to me! Follow me! Smash that ‘Like’ button and subscribe to me!” This is the self-exalting soundtrack of our day.
May we be people who increasingly choose humility over self-exaltation, who more consistently choose the way of Jesus, who “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” and “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:7-8).