Spring is in the air, and the wedding bells are starting to ring. My family and I are really looking forward to a friend’s wedding in a few month’s time. We have RSVP’d and started thinking about presents and outfits and so on.
Jesus tells a story about a wedding reception in Luke 14:7-11. In those days, the bride and groom didn’t draw up a careful seating plan to avoid awkward Great-Uncle Angus having to sit next to miserable Cousin Margaret. Instead, people raced into the banquet hall and grabbed the best seat they could, as near to the top table as possible.
Jesus suggested a different tactic. ‘Sit at the back,’ He said, ‘Then you will get a pleasant surprise when you are called to a better seat, and everyone will respect you.’ If you start in last place, you will be called to the front sooner or later. This is a wise observation that resonates with our culture. Remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare? Who won the race eventually? More recently, Bruce Springsteen sang about, ‘Waiting for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last.’ So many popular novels and films are based on ‘rags to riches’ storylines, whether fact or fiction.
However the greatest example of this starting-in-last-place principle is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He was so humble: a poor carpenter, a homeless Rabbi, an innocent prisoner, a submissive victim who was ‘obedient unto death, even death on a cross.’ Why did He take the lowest, worst place? Because He loved a lost world of sinners, and died to ‘take away the sin of the world.’ [ref]
Where is Jesus now? He is alive from the dead, in heaven on God’s throne. He has been exalted ‘far above all’ by His Father. He has gone from the lowest place to pole position in the universe.
We can experience God’s forgiveness when we trust in Him. This is the only way to the top table in God’s kingdom. We get to know the riches of God’s grace when we humbly repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a personal application of the rags to riches transformation: God ‘lifts the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes.’ [ref]