One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent pharisee ... (Luke 14:1)After speaking of seeing oneself humbly previous to this statement - figuratively as he spoke of choosing ones place at the table - Jesus speaks further of ones dealings.
Jesus again speaks figuratively regarding hosting luncheons and dinners, as there is a broader application. Yes, certainly this includes how one would host meals for guests. But it isn't limited to this.
Audience and context
We must remember the audience and context of his statement: Jesus is speaking to those sitting around him at a pharisee's house. He is speaking of how the pharisees conduct themselves within their immediate followings.
We can know this not only because of where Jesus was sitting when he said this. But also the fact that most common people during Jesus' time did not have the wealth or ability to host banquets. The pharisees, however, were typically well-off, as they received stipends from the temple and their lodgings were taken care of. They were, in other words, well-paid.
Jesus is thus instructing those at the table who will hear from him that they should be sharing this wealth with those who are less in a position to eat a nice lunch or dinner.
While Jesus certainly did teach at temples, and was accepted as a rabbi by many (even Nicodemous - another pharisee - called Jesus "rabbi" in John 3:2) Jesus did not accept a professional position in a temple and be paid a salary or any other type of compensation. Jesus was not, in other words, a professional preacher.
Jesus also railed against the aspect of professional preachers:
"Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” (Luke 20:47)The last part of this statement reflects on the fact that when the man of a household would die, the temple would seize the property in order to support the pharisees' compensation.
Jesus also discussed this as he spoke of being the real shepherd:
"The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep." (John 10:12-13)
The 'hired hand'
The "hired hand" is distinguished from the shepherd because the "hired hand" is being paid for his efforts. Thus their focus is being paid, not in serving the Supreme Being or saving their followers.
This is not only the setup of the ecclesiastical Jewish temples of Jesus' day. It is also how most of today's ecclesiastical sectarian institutions are set up. The reverend or priest or pope is paid for their service. The service is not voluntary. They are in effect, "hired hands."
When a person is paid to be a preacher, they are receiving their reward already. This is not the same as serving the Supreme Being. When a person serves the Supreme Being, they do not expect or request any payment in return for their service. They are focused upon pleasing God.
And service to the Supreme Being is the central means to returning to the spiritual realm at the time of death:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)This question of whether a person is fit to enter heaven - the spiritual realm - is confirmed in Jesus' statement in Luke 14 above, as Jesus speaks of the "resurrection of the righteous." What is this?
Meaning of resurrection
The word "resurrection" is translated from the Greek word ἀνάστασις (anastasis) - which means, "a raising up" or "rising" as well as "rising from the dead" according to the lexicon.
This means that someone will be "rising" at the time of the death of the gross physical body. Who will be rising? If you have ever seen a dead body, you can know that the body certainly doesn't rise. It just lays there and begins to decompose. Such a dead body becomes lifeless - and the personality that was exhibited when the body was alive is now gone.
Who is that personality? Each of us portrays a distinct personality. We are each persons - exhibited by our distinct personalities.
In a dead body just after it dies, every part of the body - every organ including the brain - and every cell in the body - and every molecule that makes up each cell - will still be there. No material particle is missing. What has changed then? The only thing that has changed is the fact that the person - the personality - has left the body.
How has the person or personality left the body? It has "risen" up from the body, leaving the body behind.
Such a notion is confirmed by science. To date, millions of people have experienced death followed by their body being revived - called clinical death. In many of these - when the person remembers the event - they describe rising up from the body and looking down at the body from the ceiling. Some have accurately described doctors and hospital staff performing emergency efforts to revive the body - even though their body's eyes were closed, face covered, and brain and vital signs all showing no life within the body.
We can only conclude - confirmed here by Jesus with the word ἀνάστασις (anastasis) or "resurrection" - that each of us will leave our physical body at the time of death. We will each "rise" - "resurrect" - from our bodies at the time of death.
Yet Jesus also adds another element to this rising from the physical body at the time of death - described by the word δίκαιος (dikaios) - translated to "righteous."
Here is Thayer's Lexicon's definition of this Greek word:
"righteous, observing divine laws - in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God - of those who seem to themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves in their virtues, whether real or imagined - innocent, faultless, guiltless."Elsewhere, Jesus describes this type of resurrection:
"At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." (Matt. 22:30)Jesus is thus describing the person who "resurrects" or "rises" - leaves the physical body - cannot be applied to physical laws such as marriage. The person (the self, the soul) - has a spiritual composition. This is compared to "the angels of heaven."
Thus we can understand that Jesus is speaking of the moment of death, when the person - the spiritual self - rises from the gross physical body.
Jesus then discussions the element of judgement. Each of us will be judged at the time of death for our activities within this lifetime:
"Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."This means the time of death - when we rise - or resurrect - from the gross physical body, we will be repaid for our activities that have remained unpaid during our lifetime.
Jesus mentioned this elsewhere:
"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." (Matt. 6:1)
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." (Matt. 6:2)
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." (Matt. 6:5)We can thus see from Jesus' statements that one may be rewarded - receive consequences - in this lifetime, or receive those consequences after the death of the body.
The difference lies with where our activities are geared towards: What our motivations are. They may be geared towards self-centeredness or towards service to God. For someone who is focused upon gaining self-centered rewards from the material world - they will be rewarded here, in this life or the next life, from the material world in one physical body or another.
But for those whose focus is upon pleasing the Supreme Being, their reward will be within the spiritual realm. This is also confirmed by Jesus:
"Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward." (Matt. 10:41)
"Truly I tell you, no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life." (Luke 18:29-30)Thus we can see that Jesus clearly states that what we do will have consequences in this lifetime or following our leaving our physical body ("resurrection") at the time of death.
We thus each have choices to make.