We know that Jesus himself hosted a Passover dinner to which only his close friends were invited, so the point of this story cannot be to rewrite our invitation lists, nor to complicate our seating arrangements with self-serving motivations.
Something else is going on in this story, and the above phrase gives us a hint to what it is: “they were watching him closely.” This story is one of a long series of events in the gospels demonstrating the conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day, leading up to his crucifixion by the Romans.
Nevertheless, there is a practical, straightforward lesson here, too: it is a good thing for us to broaden our social circles, to include someone who is a loner, or maybe a local Muslim into our coffee klatches and lunches. It is not only good for them-it is good for us.
Lord of all people, open my eyes to the riches of others. Amen. — GHN