Luke 14:12 – 14 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
In Luke 14:12 – 14 Jesus, speaking to the Pharisee who has invited Him to dinner, says that he should not only invite people to his home who can pay him back. He should invite the poor, crippled, lame and blind – those who cannot pay him back. This does not mean never invite people who can pay us back such as our relatives or our friends or rich neighbours. It means do not neglect to invite others as well. “Do not invite” in this verse can be more literally translated – do not always be inviting. Do not always be inviting people into your home who can repay you, invite you to theirs, do better for you the next time. Do not always be inviting your friends and relatives.
This text of Scripture has been preserved for us because it is for us today. Jesus is still saying this and it is not just a story about how a Pharisee was told to be more hospitable. God is telling us something here. He is probably telling us that there is a some Pharisee in us yet. He is telling us what He told that Pharisee that day. “Do not invite” is second person singular. “When you” – you, as an individual. This is not a command to a group of people. This is not a pot luck dinner at the church and “if you can’t bring something that’s OK, you come anyway”. It is a command to us as individuals. This is not about a church having a banquet for the poor, or bringing gifts for someone to deliver to a shelter or food bank. This is not about raising money in our budgets for needy people we will never meet. It is not about filling shoe boxes with gifts for people who are very far away enduring a poverty that we know will never reach us. This is about Christians being good neighbours – to their fellow believers and also to others who are near by and who we have a responsibility to get to know.
We can spiritualise the text so that it only appears to be talking about spiritual issues even though it is couched in material settings. Is Jesus talking here about those who are materially poor, physically disabled, and enduring a hard physical life, or is He talking about the spiritually poor and our work of evangelism? Answer? Yes. We can get legitimate teaching from this text about spiritual poverty and inability. But to eliminate the material and physical elements of the commandment would be to miss the point that Jesus is making. Note the commandments of Scripture to us who say we are following Jesus
Romans 12:13 – Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Galatians 2:9-10 – and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.  Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
1 Tim. 3:2 – Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
James 2:5 – Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
James 2:9 – But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
1 Peter 4:9 – Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
But all these texts are about helping fellow believers. Do we only have a responsibility to them? Does God not want us to do such things for non-Christians as well? Of course He does. We have the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and we have that second greatest commandment of all, that led to the telling of the parable of the Good Samaritan. “Love your neighbour as yourself”. Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan in answer to the question, “Who is my neighbour?” Well, who is my neighbour? Are our neighbours only those who can repay us? Are they only the people who see things the way we do? Are they only people we are comfortable with? Are they only people who believe as we do? No, they are not. They are those whose religion is wrong, who do not love their neighbours, who think Christianity is wrong, stupid, evil, or misguided. They are those who wonder about the great love of God that they hear about when their lives are so miserable. And God, in His providence, has put us next to them. He has made them our neighbours.
Verse 12 is a command. Invite the poor, crippled, lame and blind. Who are these people? They are the undesirables. They are those most people have a problem with. They are those who not a lot of people have very much time for. But you will. We will – because we remember that we too, are not important. We too are poor and crippled and blind and lame. This is us. That is the point of the parable in verses 15-24 that Jesus gives right after He says what we see Him saying here. This is where the spirituality of this teaching kicks in. We are the ones in the parable who were poor and crippled and blind and lame (verse 21).
Dear ones, is this our calling? It is. Have we been doing it? No doubt, some have. No doubt some have not. I know that in our home we have not done it very much. But the second greatest commandment is that we love our neighbour. We talk about how to win our communities to faith in Jesus Christ. We preach, do Sunday School and children’s work. We hold breakfasts and suppers. We do visitations and host concerts and schedule preaching events. We do a host of other things designed to get people in, or designed to get us telling people the Gospel. And we think that when those things are done and done well, that we are obeying the Great Commission. They are all good things to do. But there is more than those things. There is the love of neighbour, whether he ever comes to faith through us or not. Whether they ever come to faith at all or not. Each of us has a call from God to love our neighbours as ourselves. Jesus is here telling us who our neighbours are. We are called to make disciples and Jesus tells us that it is harder for a rich man to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. Look around your community. How many rich people do you see? How many rich people do you know? How many independently wealthy people are living in the apartments in our neighbourhoods? And how many people are in exquisitely fine homes who are in danger of losing them because they were more concerned with looking like they could afford them than being able to make the payments? How many of our neighbours are able to look like they are making it when in fact they are near bankruptcy’s door? We don’t know. And we don’t know because we don’t know our neighbours. Inviting the undesirables to our homes for dinner means that we know who they are. It means we take time to get to know them. It means that it will not seem strange to them when we ask them over. What neighbours has God given you? What neighbours has He given me? Is not a literal obedience to this command what Jesus expects of us? I believe it is. And I believe I have some alterations to make in how I live in my neighbourhood. There might be some reading this who do as well. The Lord who gave the commandment of this text, is the same one who will give us the ability, desire and faith to get at it. May we know the blessing of God upon us as we seek to obey Him in even this.