Rev. Slopsema is pastor of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Walker, Michigan.

Then said he also to them that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee.

But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:

And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

Luke 14:12-14

Someone had invited Jesus to a feast.

Jesus proceeded to give instructions to the host concerning whom he ought to have invited.

Some may question Jesus’ sense of propriety. Who, after all, takes it upon himself to tell the host who should be invited to his own party?

But if we pay close attention to Jesus’ instruction, we will learn some very important principles concerning whom we should invite into our homes and those with whom we ought to associate.

We will also conclude that Jesus’ instruction to his host was not unseemly at all, but very appropriate.


When thou makest a dinner or supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.

Jesus speaks here of a dinner or a supper. He also makes reference to a feast. Dinner was the first meal of the day, eaten either in the forenoon or at noon. Supper was the main meal of the day eaten at sundown, at the end of the workday. A feast was a meal to which guests were invited and at which was to be found music, wine, and merriment. These feasts could be held either at dinner time or supper time. Sometimes they even lasted for several days.

Someone had also invited Jesus to a feast.

Jesus told his host that to such occasions he ought not to invite his friends, his brothers, his relatives, or his rich neighbors. Rather he ought to invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. Bear in mind that the maimed, lame, and blind were almost always relegated to terrible poverty in Jesus’ day. These are they who should be invited to feasts and meals.

Now we must not construe Jesus to mean that we can not invite to our homes our friends, our brothers, our relatives, or rich neighbors. From the rest of Jesus’ instruction it becomes apparent that Jesus would have us avoid inviting others to our homes with a view to being repaid by our guests. Rather, we must make it our practice to invite those who have nothing to return to us for our hospitality.

For notice that Jesus instructed His host not to invite friends, his brothers, his relatives, or his rich neighbors, lest they also invite the host and a recompense be made.

It was common in Jesus’ day to invite to banquets only those who could pay back the host with a return invitation. The host would invite his friends, his brothers, or his relatives so they would invite him back, and he could have a good time. Or he might invite even his rich neighbor. What prestige this would give him should his rich neighbor give a return invitation.

And this is what Jesus was condemning.

We may not invite others to our homes or to various social events we sponsor with a view to getting something in return. This is exactly what we do if we invite merely our friends, our brothers, our relatives, or rich neighbor.

Rather, when we make a feast, we are to invite the poor, the maimed, lame, and the blind; for they can not recompense us.

Certainly the poor that Jesus described can not advance us socially. In fact, by inviting these kinds to our homes and social events we may well find that others no longer invite us to their homes. Neither are the poor Jesus described able to repay us with a return invitation. They are able only to receive, and have nothing with which to pay back. These are the kinds of people, said Jesus, we are to invite to our homes and banquets.

Perhaps we can take the liberty to extend this principle to other situations in which we come into contact with people.

Children at school should not associate just with those who are fun to be with and that are popular. They should make it a practice to play also with those who for a number of reasons (usually sinful and selfish) have been cast off.

Their parents should also follow the same practice in their social visiting. They should make it a practice to visit with those who for various reason do not always fit into the mainstream of the church, and tend for that reason to be shunned in the church. Also the widows and singles should be included in our social life.

After church we ought not to socialize only with our friends, but also with strangers and visitors. There are times when visitors ought even to be invited to our homes.

All this requires that we give to those who have little or nothing to pay back.

This is what Jesus requires of us.


The reason for this instruction is to be found in God’s law.

Jesus pointed in that direction when he said that those who call to their feasts the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind shall be recompensed in the resurrection of the just, or righteous.

The righteous are those who keep the law of God.

Now those who call to their feasts the poor and needy shall be recompensed in the resurrection of the righteous exactly because they have walked in the righteousness of the law.

The heart of Gods law is to show mercy to those in need.

God made this very clear through the prophet Hosea. To Judah God said, “I desired mercy and not sacrifice.” (Hosea 6:6) By this the Lord meant that even though His law required sacrifices of Judah, without mercy to those in need, all of Judah’s sacrifices were nothing.

Jesus Himself quoted Hosea when the Pharisees criticized Him for eating with publicans and sinners. Jesus told the Pharisees that they ought to learn what Hosea meant, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” (Matt. 9:13)

And now Jesus has shown us one way to demonstrate this mercy of the law.

We are to invite to our banquets and give help to the, poor, the maimed, and the needy, who have nothing to pay back.

This is true righteousness and delightful to the Lord.

Let those who neglect the needy learn what Hosea meant: “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.”

God will have us show this mercy to those in need exactly because He has shown mercy to us when we were poor, maimed, lame and blind, with nothing to pay back.

How desperate is our situation by nature. We are spiritually bankrupt before God, blinded by sin, unable to walk in the paths of God, headed for certain destruction.

Yet God loved us from all eternity and showed mercy to us. In Christ He has paid up all our spiritual debts, has given us eyes to see and the strength to walk in His ways. We even have an invitation to the marriage feast to be celebrated throughout the endless ages of eternity.

And we have nothing with which we can pay God back! We can only receive His blessings!

God will now have us show this same love and mercy to others in need. “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

The power to show this mercy to those in need is God’s mercy to us in Christ.

Those who invite to their feasts the poor and needy shall be blessed.

This means they shall be happy.

Those who invite only their friends, their rich neighbors, and those who will pay them back think they will be happy.

But Jesus says those who invite the needy and those who have nothing to repay will be happy.

For they shall be recompensed (paid back) at the resurrection of the just.

When Christ shall return again on the clouds of heaven, there will be a general resurrection, both of the righteous and the wicked. The righteous will be raised to eternal life and glory, whereas the wicked will be raised to the eternal torments of hell.

Those who show mercy to the needy and those who had nothing to repay shall be repaid and rewarded in this glorious resurrection of the righteous.

And what a great reward that will be!

For theirs will be the joy of eternal bliss and glory in Jesus Christ.

Not so those who wickedly and selfishly sought only those who could pay them something back and showed no mercy to the needy. The only reward they have is that which their friends and rich neighbors paid them for their hospitality. Small and of little significance that reward will be when the righteous inherit eternal life and they perish eternally!

Let us then keep our eye single to this reward of the righteous.

It is not a reward of merit, but of grace.

It is set before us, not to earn, but as an incentive for us to show mercy to others, even as God has shown mercy to us.