Jesus’ parable in Luke 14:12-14 says:
“Then Jesus said to him who invited Him, ‘When you have a dinner or supper, do not ask your friends, or your brothers, or relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back and you are repaid but when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.’”
In the verses that precede this, Jesus said that when going to a feast, one should sit at the least important seat until the head of the supper sees you as someone he likes and invites you to a higher place.
There is one school of thought that says that until Jesus had been resurrected after dying on the cross, He was still teaching both grace and the Law and this parable just seems too hard to obey. Imagine having a feast and not inviting any your relatives, your siblings, your friends, the rich, or the people that you know. But instead, for you to go out into the streets inviting the poor, the sick, the maimed, the homeless and all those sorts of people that you do not know and who cannot repay you.
Jesus is very big on mercy and compassion. If we were to see this parable in its true light, this is a parable reflecting what Jesus Christ did for us. We were poor, we were blind, we were lost in sin when He came and died for us.
We have been invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb. We have been invited into a relationship with the King of Kings and truly there is nothing we can do in return. We have been invited into a lovely relationship with the Creator of the universe. Sometimes, we look at a parable like this and we say that this is all too hard. We talk to ourselves: “If I ignored my friends and just invited strangers, what type of party would that be? I would be a laughing stock and would be looked upon as weird by those who know me. Besides these other strangers would see themselves as a charity case and would be insulted by such a thing. What on earth would I have in common with the outcasts of society? I would be uncomfortable and so would they be. No, it’s best to dismiss the whole idea.”
I can tell you, three to four times I have sat with homeless people and I felt the actual Spirit of Jesus at the table. I would say something and Jesus seemed to respond through the homeless person. I would comment, He would comment. One conversation went for about half an hour. They were memorable moments. People say all the time, “Would you like to meet Jesus on earth?” I really believe I have in the form of someone else.
I have sat with Christians in churches for many years but I have never had Jesus speak through anyone for ten minutes. I have mixed with the homeless, perhaps a hundred times and Jesus, I am convinced, spoke through them four times.
On many occasions, Jesus spoke through me to other people for ten minutes or even more, with the gift of prophecy. Sometimes on these occasions, I just let the Holy Spirit use my vocal chords to speak Hi words to a complete strange. (The words came from my mouth, but were not formed in my mind.)
My experience with homeless people has been tremendous when it comes to fellowshipping with Jesus. Why is it so hard for us to genuinely consider this request of Jesus? Imagine having a twenty first birthday party and going down to a homeless shelter, inviting five of them to your gathering, giving respect and honor to them by showing them a good time.
I think it would be rather difficult for a homeless person to agree to have a wardrobe makeover and general clean-up so as to go to a party with you. You would need to first gain his trust and respect, for him to agree to all the fuss. But if he felt that you really cared for him and he allowed you to tidy him up, he would be thrilled with the result. Maybe he could be convinced that God views his spirit and wants to do an even greater work there!
Do you know any homeless people personally? Do you know any sick or maimed people? Do you know anyone in a wheel-chair? Do you know any poor people—those who could not afford to give you twenty dollars or even ten dollars towards the cost of a party? Don’t just dismiss the concept. Jesus would be overjoyed if you really did show His kind of love to His needy people. That is what we are supposed to be doing, isn’t it?
Jesus is telling us to show compassion and mercy in this life. Give to people who cannot afford to give back to you; give freely and see how you will be blessed. Jesus gave His twelve disciples and incredible mandate in Matthew 10:8. He then finished this by adding “Freely you have received freely give.”
It’s amazing to discover how passionate some homeless people are about Jesus. There are only a few times in my life that someone I do not know came up and gave me money. At one time, a homeless person gave me fifty dollars! I have concluded that the homeless and the poor hear God’s voice very clearly! Quite often, the more desperate you are, the more you depend on God. The more you suffer hardship, the deeper your relationship can be with God.
Whereas, those who feel satisfied with their life, give no thought to the Savior. But the more grateful we are for our own salvation, the more we feel compelled to reach others less fortunate. He who been forgiven much will love much. At one time the religious people were hostile toward a sinful woman who was weeping and washing the feet of Jesus with expensive fragrant oil and then wiping His feet with her hair. Jesus answered their scorn: “Therefore I say to you, her sins which are many are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
Please do not shrug off this parable: this is God’s heart cry! You can find homeless people at a soup kitchen. You can find them through the Salvation Army. There are poor people in your church. There is a single mother sitting on your church pew who is having a rough time. There are men and women in your congregation who have too much of the week left - too much of a fortnight left - too much time before the next pay check. They have too many days left without money to buy the essentials. There are people in your church who are poor - invite them round for dinner.
You do not need to have a big party and invite a whole lot of strange poor and sick people. Just invite one. No one jumps into the deep end of the pool and starts to swim straight away. People gradually get into a stream and go out into the deep end when they feel safe enough to swim. Just start to invite one or two to your parties. You might find it very interesting. I have spent time on the streets. I spent six months in a homeless hostel, officially homeless. You would be surprised how beautiful some homeless people are.
Do not be scared of inviting them into your house. Do not be scared of loving the poor. You cannot be infected by a homeless person. The spirit of homelessness is not going to rub off on you. You are not going to lose your prosperity by having a poor person in your house. Go on, I encourage you. Take Jesus at His word. Take the challenge. Reach out with mercy and compassion and touch the broken-hearted today.