Have you ever played the parlour game, “What three people would you like to have for dinner?”
It can be a good way to get to know people. If you could invite any three people, living or dead, to your home for a meal, who would they be and why? In my experience some of the more popular choices, in no particular order are Ghandi, Nelson Mandella, Mother Theresa, a president or some other head of state, Bono and Jesus. Every once in a while some smart-ass will throw in the name of a tyrant like Hilter or Attila the Hun but you can usually tell that they’re doing it just to be different and the game usually ends at that point.
I’m most fascinated by the people who name Jesus. When questioned on it they will usually say that they want to hear first hand if he really did say the things that the bible records that he said. They have just enough bible knowledge to know that systematic theology and the narrative itself don’t always line up and the only what to clear up the confusion is to go right to the source.
Makes sense right?
Unfortunately all we have is the bible to tell us what Jesus said and did. If it doesn’t line up with the way you’ve been taught to interpret it, which do you think is wrong? Over they years many church leaders have attempted to add some traditions on to the teaching but at the end of the day traditions are not scripture. They may add a level of clarity or comfort and even reverence but if you take the traditions away you haven’t really lost anything.
I think if you had Jesus over for dinner, that’s what he’d tell you. In fact, he already did;
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” [Luke 10:25-37]