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Home arrow Daniel arrow Luke 14:1-24: Dining with Jesus
Luke 14:1-24: Dining with Jesus Print E-mail
Sunday, 14 July 2013

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The Kingdom of God is not always what we expecct.  When we think of Kingdoms, we normally imagine some fairy-tale Kingdom with large castles and the King seated on a throne surrounded by loyal servants.  But the Kingdom of God is not like that.  Perhaps we think about earthly Kingdoms, where men have political control over a large area through their military might.  Yet, the Kingdom of God is not like that either.  In fact, no other Kingdom can compare to God’s Kingdom.  Because of this, people often miss the Kingdom.

How would you like to share a meal with Jesus?  What would you fix for appetizers and the main course?  How much cleaning would you do before He arrived?  What do you think the conversation would be about?  Would you have questions for Him or would you let Him take the lead?  For us, this seems sort of silly or absurd.  Yet, when Jesus lived on the earth, He regularly went to have meals in peoples’ home.  He was willing to eat with tax collectors and sinners (Luke 5:29ff).  He ate at Martha’s house (Luke 10:38ff).  He even shared meals with Pharisees and others who sought to do Him harm (Luke 7:36, 11:37ff, and our passage this morning).  What would it be like to share a meal with Christ?

In Luke 14:1-24, Luke tells us about one particular meal that Jesus had at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees.  At this one dinner party, Jesus heals a man, instructs the guests and the host, and tells a parable about the Messianic banquet that is yet to come.  He took advantage of every opportunity to minister to others, whether through miraculous healing or teaching on the Kingdom.  So then, what can we learn from this particular dinner party?

Compassion, not tradition, will lead to obedience (v. 1-6)

This particular meal took place on a Sabbath and it seems that the whole thing was possibly a setup for Jesus.  Look at verse 1.  The Pharisees were still waiting for Him to mess up.  They had their eyes on Him and quickly, perhaps intentionally, a situation did arise.  Look at verse 2.  What will Jesus do in this situation?  Will He heal the man?  Look at verses 3-6.  Luke writes that Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, even when they did not apparently say anything.  Thus, it seems that perhaps the meal and the situation was a setup.  Either way, Jesus knew what was going on.  He knew that they disapproved of Him healing on the Sabbath and He knew that they were watching Him.  But that did not keep Him from acting because He knew that they were wrong.  He asks them about healing on the Sabbath and their silence is telling.  They could not answer Him without either agreeing with Him or showing their lack of compassion, so they just stay quiet.  Jesus goes on to heal the man and once again rebuke them for valuing their tradition over the man’s well-being.

You might be thinking to yourself at this point: ‘Haven’t you already preached this story?  Why does Luke repeat such a similar story?’  First, I think he does it because it is historical.  Luke wants to give his readers a true account of what Jesus did and there were times when He taught the same things in various settings, as is the case here.  Second, Luke includes this story again because it highlights an important lesson: tradition and ritual should not keep us from being compassionate.  The Pharisees missed this repeatedly.  It is important for us to not make the same mistake.  What is it that gets in the way of your compassion?  What keeps you from showing mercy to those in need like Jesus?  Maybe you have some family traditions that keep you from reaching out.  Maybe we as a Church have some religious traditions that keep us from ministering as we should.  We must be willing to examine those and to choose compassion.

Humility, not pride, will lead to exaltation (v. 7-14)

After the healing of the man, Jesus goes on to address the guests and the host in particular.  He begins with the guests.  Look at verses 7-10.  Apparently as Jesus was watching the invited guests take their seats, He noticed that some were doing all they could to be seated in a place of honor.  Typically the guests would sit in a ‘U’ shape, with the host sitting in the center.  The closer you were to the host, the more honored you were.  Thus, people would do what they could to secure a seat of honor.  Yet, at times, other people would show up and the hose would have to ask someone to leave their seat to make room for those who arrived.  Such a situation would be very shameful to the one who had to move.  So Jesus tells them that it is better to be the guest who gets invited closer than the guest who gets shamed.

He draws the application of the parable in verse 11.  Look at that with me.  With this last verse, it is clear that Jesus is not just talking about seating arrangements.  No, He simply took this opportunity of people scrambling for honor to teach them an important lesson about humility.  Instead of exalting ourselves, we should strive to be humble.  Pride and arrogance in this life will lead to humility in the next, while humility in this life will lead to exaltation in the next.  Seen in this manner, the question becomes: when do you want to be exalted, in this life or in the one to come?  Do you want the favor of men or the favor of God?  Of course, most of us feel like we are doing a good job battling against our pride, and by God’s grace, I pray that we are.  Yet, how often do we silently think to ourselves: ‘I deserve better than this?’  In those times, we need to remember this parable and we need to remember who we were without Christ.  A person who truly believes in amazing grace will know what they deserve and will welcome humility in this life.  May we live like that, knowing that a future exaltation is coming.

Jesus teaches a similar lesson to the host.  Look at verses 12-14.  Once again Jesus uses the occasion as a teaching opportunity.  Instead of inviting just the people who can invite you in return and pay you back, Jesus tells the man to invite those who cannot repay: the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.  Again, this involves humility.  We must serve without expecting service in return.  We must give without expecting repayment.  At least, without expecting repayment in this life.  Jesus tells us to wait for our future repayment at the resurrection of the just.  Jesus is once again telling us to be rich toward God, to use our money and resources to serve the needy in this life, believing in the blessing to come, which leads to our final lesson.

Acceptance, not excuses, will lead to blessing (v. 15-24)

At this point in the meal, Jesus has offended about everyone in the room.  Yet, someone speaks up and at least states agreement with the future blessing to come.  Look at verse 15.  It’s almost as if the guy wants to clear the tension.  In light of what Jesus goes on to say, it seems the man is resting in the promise that Israel will be invited to that coming feast.  They are God’s people and so they will feast at His table.  ‘We can all agree on that,’ he seems to be saying.

So Jesus responds with a final parable.  Look at verses 16-23.  In those days when a man gives a feast, he sends out an original invitation to know who will be attending, like an RSVP.  Then, when the feast is ready, he sends a second invitation to those who were waiting to let them know that it is time for them to come.  Jesus’ parable tells the story of man who did this, but when he sent out the second invitation, people made excuses for why they could not come.  It’s bad enough that they give excuses in the first place (this would have been a serious insult to the host).  Yet, when you actually look at the excuses you see just how bad the situation really is.  The first guy wants to go and see a field that he has already bought.  That’s like saying: ‘Yeah, I bought this field outside of town and I want to go and stare it, so I can’t come to the feast even though I already told you that I would be there.’  Pretty lame. 

The second excuse is not much better.  Who goes and examines animals after they had already purchased them.  That’s like saying, ‘Yeah, I bought this used-car and I have not driven yet at all, so I want to drive it around while the feast is going on.’  Pretty lame again.  The last excuse seems to have more substance.  The guy just got married and he cannot make it.  But what exactly is keeping him from coming?  Why not just bring the wife to the feast?  It must be the classic blaming of the spouse to get out of an obligation, like: ‘Dude, my wife is at home, so I can’t come to the feast and I cannot bring her with me cause she’s not really in to feasts and having a good time.’  Still lame.

So what does the host do?  He tells his servant to go invite others, anyone left in the city that has not been invited.  After they come in and there is still room, he has his servant go outside the city and invite those who never got invited, you know the poor and crippled and blind and lame.  Where have we heard that list before?  It seems this host invites all those that Jesus told his host to invite.  He keeps inviting until his house is filled.

Jesus applies the parable in verse 24.  Those who were originally invited did not make it to the feast.  They made excuses and refused to come, so they were left out.  Instead, others were brought in who did accept the invitation.  Again, Jesus is not just talking about proper etiquette for dinner parties.  Notice again what He says in verse 24.  He is talking about who will be attending His banquet, the one He will serve at the end of days, the wedding supper of the Lamb.  And who will attend that banquet?  It will not be those who make excuses.  It will not be those religious leaders who could not get over their traditions and rituals.  It will not be those who keep making excuses for not following Jesus.  Only those who accept the invitation will enjoy the feast.  All the others will be refused.  This parable teaches us the absolute necessity of inviting all to believe in Jesus.  Although many will continue to make excuses, others will come.  We must go to the highways and the hedges and compel people to come in.  This is why we support missionaries in hard places.  It is why we labor in short-term missions.  It is why we have evangelistic Bible studies and go to the park.  We are called to invite and compel others to come.

It is easy to imagine Jesus leaving the meal at this point, whether it was over or not.  Many may have shook their heads at this crazy teacher, laughing off His call to compassion and humility.  But these were not laughing matters to Jesus.  He came to show the broken and needy compassion.  He came to heal us, not just from physical ailments, but from spiritual death.  And in order to do that, He was willing to humble Himself by taking on flesh and dying on the cross in our place.  His future banquet was paid for in blood.  But the Father did not leave Him in the grave.  Three days later He rose victorious over the grave.  And Paul tells us in Philippians that following His humiliation and death, the Father has now highly exalted him and bestowed on him he name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (2:9-11).  In the same way, Jesus promises future exaltation to all of those who humbly confess their sins and believe in Him today.  The compassionate One calls us to compassion.  The humble Savior calls us to humility.  May we accept His invitation.  Amen. 

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 August 2013 )

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