The Parable of the Guests
When Jesus noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, He told them a parable: “When you are invited to a wedding banquet, do not sit in the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited. Then the host who invited both of you will come and tell you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ And in humiliation, you will have to take the last place.…
Sit not down.—Literally, recline not.
Lest a more honourable man than thou . . .—The words imply that the common practice was for the guests to seat themselves; then, as in the parable of the wedding garment (Matthew 22:11), the host came in “to see the guests.”
a more honourable man than thou] Php 2:3, “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
Art bidden – Are invited.
To a wedding – A wedding was commonly attended with a feast or banquet.
The highest room – The seat at the table nearest the head.
A more honourable man – A more aged man, or a man of higher rank. It is to be remarked that our Saviour did not consider the courtesies of life to be beneath his notice. His chief design here was, no doubt, to reprove the pride and ambition of the Pharisees; but, in doing it, he teaches us that religion does not violate the courtesies of life. It does not teach us to be rude, forward, pert, assuming, and despising the proprieties of refined social contact. It teaches humility and kindness, and a desire to make all happy, and a willingness to occupy our appropriate situation and rank in life; and this is true “politeness,” for true politeness is a desire to make all others happy, and a readiness to do whatever is necessary to make them so. They have utterly mistaken the nature of religion who suppose that because they are professed Christians, they must be rude and uncivil, and violate all the distinctions in society. The example and precepts of Jesus Christ were utterly unlike such conduct. He teaches us to be kind, and to treat people according to their rank and character. Compare Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17.
Jesus had before denounced a woe against the Pharisees for loving the uppermost seats in the synagogues, Luke 11:43, and told us, Matthew 23:6, that they loved the uppermost rooms at feasts, and possibly he might at this feast see something of it. He therefore applies his discourse by pressing upon them humility, and showing them the danger of pride, which though it be a vice seated in the heart, yet by such little things discovereth itself in the outward conversation. He tells them, that God is such an enemy to pride, that he ordinarily so ordereth it in the government of the world, that usually self-exalting people are by one means or other abused, and brought to shame and contempt, and those that are low in their own eyes are exalted; and if it doth not so fall out here, yet this will be what will at the last day befall them, in the day of God’s righteous judgment.