Fri, 2 November 2018
(Phil.1:18-26; Ps.42:2-3,5; Lk.14:1,7-11)
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding party,
do not sit in the place of honor
in case some greater dignitary has been invited.”
At the feast of the marriage of Christ to mankind, we are the lesser party, and must act humbly before our God.
Jesus comes among us as a guest to eat a meal in our house; He humbles Himself to sit at our table. And this guest who sits in the lowest place among us is in fact the Host of the banquet of which all are invited to partake. Though the Lamb that is slaughtered for all to eat, He the sacrifice rules at the altar of our worship.
Listen carefully to what Paul says to his beloved Philippians; see how his own attitude mirrors that of the humble Christ, and how it must be imitated by us all. He says quite openly, “I long to be freed from this life and to be with Christ, for that is the far better thing.” In the choice of living or dying, he would opt for the latter, “for, to [him], ‘life’ means Christ; hence dying is so much gain.” As the psalmist sings in comparing his soul to “the hind [that] longs for the running waters”: “When shall I go and behold the face of God?” When shall he know full union with the Lord? Only in death, the dawn of perfect day. But though “strongly attracted” to death, Paul has equal attraction to life, and accepts that he must “go on living in the flesh” for the “productive toil” it means; and so he will “persevere with [his disciples], for [their] joy and [their] progress in the faith.” He will remain “with the throng” that he might lead them “in procession to the house of God… amid loud cries of joy and thanksgiving,” though he himself is already prepared to enter the festival gates.
Do you not see how this attitude is as Christ’s own? Would not the Lord Jesus have preferred to remain in the heavenly kingdom with the Father? Would this not have been better for Him by far? And yet He comes among us, and yet He remains with us. And yet He takes on flesh which is as the cross itself and bears it with all patience for our benefit. He gains nothing by sitting with us at table as a dishonored guest, but we gain life eternal as we eat the Bread He feeds us.
And so, listen to the Lord’s teaching. Pray that “when your Host approaches you He will say, ‘My friend, come up higher.’” Let His sweet words of humility and sacrifice be in your ears and in your heart – and upon your lips, lived through your body – that with Paul you will “have full confidence that now as always Christ will be exalted through” your own humility; then you will find the same “conviction that this will turn out to [your] salvation.” If here you sacrifice your life, at the wedding party of our Lord and our souls you will be given your due place of honor at table in the kingdom.
O LORD, may the humility of Jesus be proclaimed to all
who wish to see your face.
YHWH, help us to be your humble servants, coming to others as a slave, as your Son, concerned only for the welfare of your flock, even as the Apostle Paul. How shall we have the Spirit of Christ within us? How shall we set our hearts on seeking your face and helping others progress in the faith? Let us not care if we live or die, but only that your NAME goes forth.
To your House let us come, O LORD; at your table let us sit. The lowest place let us take, for this is the place we deserve. It is only by your grace we come to the table at all, and so, how can we boast of anything? Your Son is the exalted guest among us – let us give place to Him in all things.
Call us higher, dear LORD. Call us to your side. Without your call we shall be lost, scrambling blindly for adulation on this empty earth. O let us rejoice as we enter your presence!