Those Who Chose the Best Places
An article specially designed for parents to read with their children
SOME persons always want the best things for themselves, and they will take these things before anyone else can get them. Have you noticed this? I have.
For example, at a meal I have seen a big dish being passed. It was filled with delicious pieces of cake. As the dish came around, each person carefully looked over the pieces to make sure that he took the biggest one. Do you think it is right to do that?
There is something else that I have seen happen. A father and mother have taken their children with them to visit a friend. When they came into the friend’s house, the children hurried to get the most comfortable chairs. Is this right? Should they take the best seats?
When the Great Teacher was on earth something like that happened. He was invited to a big meal at the house of an important Pharisee. There were many guests invited. As the guests came in for the meal, Jesus noticed that they would choose the best places near the head of the table. They wanted places of honor. Would you like to hear what Jesus said to them?
He told them a story. It contained good advice for those guests, and it has some good advice for us today.
Jesus said: ‘Someone may invite you to a big wedding feast. When you go, do not pick the most honored place to sit. For someone more important than you may also have been invited. Then the one putting on the feast may come over to you and say, “Let this man have your place.” You will then feel shame as all the others present watch you go to the lowest place.’
Jesus wanted to show those guests, who had been choosing the best places, the right thing to do. So he went on to say to them:
‘When you are invited to a wedding feast go and sit down at the lowest place. Then the one who has invited you may come and say, “Friend, we have a better place than this for you!” You will then have honor in front of all the others as you move up to the better place.’—Luke 14:1-11.
Did you get the point of Jesus’ story? Let’s take an example, and see if you did. Let’s say that we were going to have dinner at someone’s house. Would you pick the most comfortable chair when you were ready to sit down? Or would you leave the best place for someone else? What do you think Jesus would want you to do?
Take another example. Imagine that you are getting on a crowded bus. Should you hurry to get a seat, and let an old person stand? Would Jesus want you to do that?
Someone may say that it does not make any difference to Jesus what we do. But do you believe that? When Jesus was at that big meal at the home of the Pharisee, he watched what seats people were choosing. And don’t you think that he is just as interested in what we do today? Now that Jesus is in heaven he certainly is in a better position to watch us.
Does it bring peace and good feelings between persons when each one tries to get the best place? Or, rather, do they get into an argument and become angry with one another? What do you think?
Sometimes this happens when children go for a car ride together. As soon as the car door is opened, they rush to get the best seats, the ones near the window. And right away there is an argument. They become angry with one another because they each want the best place.
This can also happen when children go out to play a game of ball. Before they even get started playing they may have an argument over who is going to be first. Isn’t it too bad that these things happen?
Wanting to be first can cause a lot of trouble. It even caused trouble among Jesus’ apostles. Did you know that? Let me tell you about it.
One day the brothers James and John came up to Jesus. These apostles were close friends of Jesus. So they said to him: ‘We want you to do us a favor.’
‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked.
They said to him: ‘Let us sit down next to you in your kingdom, one of us at your right hand and the other at your left hand.’ These brothers wanted first places in the Kingdom. They wanted honored seats.
But how do you think the other ten apostles felt when they found out what James and John had asked? They were angry! And so Jesus had to give them all some good advice.
Jesus told them that the rulers of the nations want to appear big and important. They want a high position, and to have everyone obey them. But Jesus explained to his followers that they should not be that way. Rather, Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of all.” Think of that!—Mark 10:35-45.
Do you know what a slave does? He serves other persons, rather than let others serve him. He takes the lowest place, not the first place. He acts as the least important one, not the most important. And remember that Jesus said that the one who wants to be first should act like a slave toward others.
Now what do you think that means for us? Would a slave argue with his master over who is going to get the best seat? Or would he argue about who is going to eat first? What do you think? Jesus showed that a slave always puts his master before himself. Isn’t that the way we should do too?—Luke 17:7-10.
Yes, it is the Christian way to put others ahead of ourselves. This is what the Great Teacher did. And if we follow his example we will be pleasing to God.