"... do not take the place of honor ..." (Luke 14:8-10)

"When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this person your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests." (Luke 14:8-10)

Why is Jesus saying this?

Jesus has sat down to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee and noticed that people selected the seats of honor:
When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: (Luke 14:7)
Is Jesus teaching about how to attend a wedding or how to sit down at a table? Is Jesus teaching them about wedding table manners?

Is Jesus teaching about table manners?

Jesus is not teaching table manners. And he is not teaching about how to respond to a wedding invitation.

Rather, Jesus' symbolic parable or analogy and his observation at the table represents a more important issue: How important do we see ourselves with respect to others. Do we think we are the most important person in the room? Do we think that we are the smartest person around?

Not wanting to take the place of honor means not seeing ourselves as the most important person. It is about respecting others, and accepting that others are important - and sometimes more deserving than we are.

This also relates to how we see ourselves in relation to the Supreme Being. Does God exist in order to serve me? Is His role to wait around until we pray to Him to ask Him to do something for us or our family? In other words, do we think God is our servant?

In other words, Jesus is suggesting that none of us are the center of the universe. The world does not revolve around me.

This relates directly to the symbolism that Jesus is using. Where one chooses to sit is symbolic to how we see ourselves in relation to not only others, but to the Supreme Being. A person who approaches with confidence - being judgmental and feeling important and significant, is equivalent to "those who exalt themselves" according to Jesus.

And the consequence for this consciousness is very clear according to Jesus: "For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled."

But those who see themselves humbly will receive another consequence: "those who humble themselves will be exalted."

Of significance here is one who feels superior enough to judge the Supreme Being and His representative: Feeling the mind powerful enough to be able to judge God and determine whether God exists, or whether God is fair and so forth.

Who are we to judge?

It seems that everyone has an opinion, and most of us think our opinion is the right one and anyone who disagrees is wrong. We think that we are so cognizant that we can see everything and that we are thus the most capable person to render a judgment.

This is also seen among materialistic scientists who feel their tiny minds are powerful enough to determine how the universe was created. Some have speculatively concluded that the universe comes from a random explosion without a source. This type of confidence only comes from someone unaware of their own insignificance.

Consider, for example, a bacteria living within the intestines of a human. Do those bacteria have the where-for-all to judge what their host is composed of? Do the bacteria have any idea what the human does or even that there is a living organism hosting its existence?

What if we saw such a bacteria make a judgment about its host - its universe - and conclude there was no life outside of its section of intestine? We would laugh at such ignorance, wouldn't we?

Is this about humility?

Yes, Jesus is referring to humility, but he is not referring to false humility.

He is not speaking of appearing humble or making a show of humility. Rather, Jesus is speaking of consciousness.

As such, a person who speaks softly and appears humble may still be feeling very significant and important. This is often paraphrased with "looks can be deceiving."

The false identity of the body

Most of us see ourselves and others in relation to what type of body we are wearing and what position our physical body is in at the moment. This, however, is circumstantial: it is false identification.

This is because we are not these physical bodies. Scientifically speaking, our physical bodies are vehicles we occupy temporarily. They are like clothing that we are wearing. Our physical body might be compared to an astronaut's spacesuit. Or even the space capsule itself. These are both coverings over the astronaut that allow the astronaut the ability to go into outer space.

In the same way, these physical bodies allow us to enter into and engage within the physical universe. Without the physical body, we cannot engage physically.

We can know this scientifically because the physical body is always changing. Just as we might change our clothes, the body is constantly recycling atoms and molecules. So the body we had when we were a child is not the same body we have on now.

The constant entity - our person or personality - is composed of spirit. We have a body and identity made of spirit, which cannot be seen by the physical senses. It is of another dimension. Jesus confirmed this:
"The spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing." (John 6:63)
This dimension of spirit is the world of consciousness. In the physical realm, one can deceive others with false humility. But within the dimension of the spirit - the spiritual realm - our consciousness is inseparable from our spiritual self.

Is the soul innately humble?

In our pure state, our spiritual self is by nature humble and loving. But because we chose to reject our relationship with the Supreme Being, we have become separated from our spiritual nature. Our spiritual nature has become covered up by self-centeredness.

It is like having a bucket of mud thrown onto the windshield of our car. With mud covering the windshield, we cannot see out of or into the car.

When a person begins the path towards reviving our relationship with the Supreme Being - and reconnects with Him through prayer and through the glorification of His Holy Names - that 'mud' of self-centeredness covering us gradually clears up, allowing us to begin to see ourselves more and more. This allows us to regain our natural love and humility - our natural consciousness as we begin to see our position as God's humble loving servant.

As one's loving service relationship with the Supreme Being increases, this understanding of our actual (humble) position will naturally carry over into the rest of our lives. We will begin to see our brothers and sisters as they are - not as their temporary bodies but as spirit-persons - and see ourselves in a humble light as we see all of our faults.

This is the consciousness Jesus is speaking of here as he speaks figuratively regarding choosing ones seat. As we choose our seat at the table of the spiritual realm, we should realize all of our faults. We should realize how fallen we are and how our positions are completely dependent upon the mercy of the Supreme Being.