>Just ran across an interesting connection between Luke 14 and Deuteronomy
As you can see there is a long tradition in Jewish law (and ethics) to firmly defend the right of the individual. The Chief Rabbi of Great Britain has a great letter on the topic (http://www.chiefrabbi.org/thoughts/massei5768.pdf).
It is interesting to note that, as the Rabbi says, in the Jewish State the society was there to serve the individual. This in itself is a fruitful source for much contemplation not only in the present and always explosive political scene in Israel, but also in understanding some of the more “selfish” acts of various disciples and followers of Jesus.
Specifically I see an interesting connection between the list of “excuses” that the various people invited to the banquet (in Jesus’ parable) and the legal reasons for not serving the military in a “non-obligatory war” (i.e. a war that is not for self-defense – I like that term!). What are they? Buying new property, planting a vineyard, marriage, and fear. All of these apparently are justifiable reasons for not joining the army.
What are the reasons people give for not coming to the banquet? Buying a field, buying five yoke of oxen, and marriage!
It seems we can infer that the Law was used for more than war, it was also used for all sorts of social engagements and expectations. Within the legal framework of Judaism those reasons (new property, marriage) were perfectly acceptable reasons for absenteeism.
Jesus is pretty clear that this is not acceptable though. Is he going against the Law? Certainly the Pharisees more than once accused him of being a law-breaker.
Before we draw too many broad conclusions, it is important to remember that Jesus is talking about The Great Banquet, the Coming of the Kingdom of God. It seems that he is pointing out to the Pharisees (and us) that we can get so tangled up in the rules that we would rather miss an invitation by God if it clashed with a previous event in our agenda. “One moment God, can you postpone the Second Coming to next Weds? I will have some time then.”
Does this not happen all the time, here and now? Do I not turn away from God and His Banquet to tend to my vineyards?
The most crucial point here is the turning. Turning away from abundance towards scarcity, turning away from magnanimity towards parsimony, from charity towards…what? Fear.
The end result is that we seem to choose the limited management of something we control in lieu of the unlimited participation in the Kingdom which is out of our control.
Why is that?