Jesus loved to party!

Let’s be honest, Christians aren’t known for their partying. Whether it’s legalistic condemnation of card-playing and dancing or abstaining from all forms of alcohol (many times for good reasons), there is a perception that Christians can’t and don’t have any fun.

A recent discussion on the life of Jesus, however, highlighted for me just how contrary this stereotype is. Jesus didn’t shy away from a good party. You could even say parties are a major part of the gospel.
You see, the bulk of Luke 14-15 is set within the context or has the theme of parties:
  • Lessons at a dinner party - 14:1-14
  • Parable of the party - 14:15-24
  • Party over finding one lost sheep - 15:1-7
  • Party at finding one lost coin - 15:8-10
  • Party at the return of a son - 15:11-32
Jesus went to parties. Jesus talked about parties. Jesus loved to party!

One friend describes this section of Luke as lessons on “party etiquette.” The question isn’t if Christians should party. Jesus assumes partying. It’s how we party that matters.

And so Jesus talks about being a good party guest - one who doesn’t make excuses, or take the limelight, or get bitter when others seem to be having more fun. To be a good guest means just being at the party is good enough. Party attendance is a gift, not a right. The best party, according to Jesus’ party etiquette, is the gathering of the humble (notice: no talk of dancing, cards, or drinking!).

Jesus also talks about being a good party host. Parties aren’t for developing, maintaining, or improving one’s social status (sorry housewife reality TV shows!). Even Jesus knew the traps of social competition (e.g. “I did this for you, now you have to do this for me”). Jesus redefines a good party. Who is there still matters, but who is there is not who we’d expect. Hosts are to invite the stranger, the outcast, the poor, the sick, the lost. Being a good party host is more than being the life of the party - it’s about throwing a party that offers life.

It’s safe to say, Jesus loved to party. Again, we don't ask should we party, but how we party. The question, then, is this:

What’s your party etiquette?


Anonymous said...

In the NT class I took we watched a clip from the movie "Jesus". It came out in 1999 and shows a casual, even playful side to Jesus. The Jesus who loved to party as you say in your post. The question to the class that followed the clip was, "How many of you have ever thought of Jesus in this way..." that he might have been something other than somber and serious. It was surprising that not many hands went up. The words, "suffering servant" don't lend to thoughts of good times and parties. Thanks Dave, for the reminder. My guess is, Jesus had a hearty laugh!
Jean Bergen

David Warkentin said...

Good to hear from you Jean! Yes, it's definitely not our default position to consider these aspects of Jesus' life. I like "hearty laugh."

Anonymous said...

Luke 15 does mention dancing.

John Hawkins Totnes said...

The four gospels (less than 65,000 words in total) hav had more influence on the world than any other texts. Much of them as you have pointed out are about parties- also humour, resting and giving gifts. Jesus was a bloke people liked to be with. He was fun and still is.

Cindy Noonan said...

Hi David,
I found this gem you wrote when I googled Jesus and parties. Thanks for the rich teaching on many levels. I'm incorporating it into my small group "party."

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