Luke Chapter Fourteen

 

v.1-2 “AND IT CAME TO PASS, AS HE WENT INTO THE HOUSE OF ONE OF THE CHIEF PHARISEES TO EAT BREAD ON THE SABBATH DAY, THAT THEY WATCHED HIM.  AND, BEHOLD, THERE WAS A CERTAIN MAN BEFORE HIM WHICH HAD THE DROPSY.”

 

            As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, Jesus is probably still in Perea, east of the Jordan in the tribal area given to Gad and the half tribe of Manessah.

He is invited to eat in the house a man who is a Pharisee and is being watched closely.  They are looking for something that they can use to accuse him before the council and Luke tells us that there was a certain man there who had an affliction called dropsy.  The commentators seem to think that this was disease that involved the accumulation of water under the skin, was generated by some other disease and was incurable.

 

v.3  AND JESUS ANSWERING SPAKE UNTO THE LAWYERS AND PHARISEES SAYING, IS IT LAWFUL TO HEAL ON THE SABBATH DAY?”

 

            Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking, knew that this confrontation had been arranged without them having to say a word and openly challenges them with his question.  This is the same question that he asked the gathering of lawyers and Pharisees in Matthew 12:10 when he healed the man with the withered hand.  He springs their trap and renders it useless.

 

v.4 “AND THEY HELD THEIR PEACE.  AND HE TOOK him, AND HEALED HIM, AND LET HIM GO.”

 

            They held their peace, they refused to answer.  If they said yes then they would put themselves in a bad light with the people surrounding them, if they said no then they compromise their tradition regarding the definition of work; work that could not under their interpretation of the Law could not be performed on the Sabbath.  Jesus healed the man and sent him on his way.

 

v.5-6 “AND ANSWERED THEM, SAYING, WHICH OF YOU SHALL HAVE AN ASS OR AN OX FALLEN INTO A PIT, AND WILL NOT STRAIGHWAY PULL HIM OUT ON THE SABBATH DAY?  AND THEY COULD NOT ANSWER HIM AGAIN TO THESE THINGS.”

 

            Jesus asks them a very simple question.  The Law required that if someone saw his neighbor’s animal in this kind of distress that he would help that neighbor with his problem.

 

Deuteronomy 22:4 “THOU SHALT NOT SEE THY BROTHER’S ASS OR HIS OX FALL DOWN BY THE WAY, AND HIDE THYSELF FROM THEM: THOU SHALT SURELY HELP HIM TO LIFT them UP AGAIN.”

 

The Law makes no qualification for this command, does not restrict this activity in any way, or prohibit it from being done on any day of the week.

 

v.7 “AND HE PUT FORTH A PARABLE TO THOSE WHICH WERE BIDDEN, WHEN HE MARKED HOW THEY CHOSE OUT THE CHIEF ROOMS [SEATS]; SAYING UNTO THEM.”

 

            Jesus now begins the presentation of the first of three parables.  He observes that these lawyers and Pharisees made sure that they received places of honor at whatever feast or gathering they attended.  They had criticized him, accused him falsely, now he provides them with some just and deserved correction to their thinking.

 

v.8-9 “WHEN THOU ART BIDDEN OF ANY man TO A WEDDING [marriage feast], SIT NOT DOWN IN THE HIGHEST ROOM [chief seat]; LEST A MORE HONORABLE MAN THAN THOU BE BIDDEN OF HIM; AND HE THAT BADE THEE AND HIM COME AND SAY TO THEE, GIVE THIS MAN PLACE; AND THOU BEGIN WITH SHAME TO TAKE THE LOWEST ROOM.”

 

            When you are invited to a wedding for marriage feast, don’t assume that you have been invited to occupy the chief rooms or seats lest you be embarrassed when the host asks you to move because he has invited other guests that are more deserving that you are.  We are to be humble and modest; something that these men and others of the same mind don’t seem to be able to do.

 

v.10 “BUT WHEN THOU ART BIDDEN, GO AND SIT DOWN IN THE LOWEST ROOM; THAT WHEN HE THAT BADE THEE COMETH, HE MAY SAY UNTO THEE, FRIEND, GO UP HIGHER: THEN SHALT THOU HAVE WORSHIP IN THE PRESENCE OF THEM THAT SIT AT MEAT WITH YOU.”

 

            In verses 8 and 9, Jesus tells us what not to do, now in verse 10 he tells us what to do.  When we are bidden to a gathering of people as a guest, don’t sit down in a place of honor, but rather sit (literally lay yourself back) in a place with the most humble of those attending and wait to be provided an invitation.  This principle was also provided to us through the “schoolmaster”:

 

Proverbs 25:6-76Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: 7For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.”

 

And then he tells us why.

 

v.1111For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

 

            Whoever exalts himself will be brought down and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.  This principle is also found in Matthew 23:12 and has literally been taught throughout the Bible, two examples:

 

Proverbs 29:23 “A MAN’S PRIDE SHALL BRING HIM LOW; BUT HONOUR SHALL UPHLED THE HUMBLE IN SPIRIT.”

 

I Peter 5:55Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”

 

v.1212Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee.”

 

            Did you ever hear somebody fuss because “we’ve had them over two or three or however many times and they’ve never invited us”?  Oh, I have, and I expect unless you are an exception to the rule of most people you have too.  Jesus is telling us that this isn’t the attitude we should have.  When we do good things for people we should not expect recompense, if we do so for the praise of men we have our reward (Matthew 6:1-2)we are to be open handed and open hearted.

 

v.13. “13But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:”

 

            Again Jesus tells us what not to do and now tells us what we should do.  When we make a feast, don’t call our rich friends, but rather those who cannot repay us, those who are in need, those who might even go hungry without our invitation.  After their return from captivity; when Nehemiah finished reading the book of Moses to the people in Jerusalem, what were his instructions to them?

 

Nehemiah 8:1010Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

 

Then Jesus makes us a promise:

 

v.1414And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

 

            Whenever we obey this instruction, God will provide the recompense, God will pay us back, God will remember our good deeds.  At the day of resurrection, the time of judgment, God will reward those who follow these instructions.

 

v.1515And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”

 

            Jesus is still in the house of the Pharisee who has invited him to a meal.  One of the Pharisee’s friends, quite likely another Pharisee or someone that was prominent either in business or in their religious circles makes a statement:  “Blessed is he….”  Commentators have debated the meaning behind this statement for years.  Many think that this person was referring to the day when those that thought Jesus would overthrow Rome and establish an earthly kingdom of God that a great feast would be in order, just as in Nehemiah 8;  others that he is speaking of the spiritual kingdom.  Due to the constant reminders that they were thinking the Messiah would restore physical Israel I tend to agree with the former thought.  Jesus uses the opportunity to teach more concerning his kingdom.

 

v.16-1716Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.”

 

            In Matthew 22 Jesus teaches the same principles using the example of a marriage feast.  The marriage feast of Christ when his bride, the church, is presented to him.  In Proverbs 9; the analogy of a feast at the house and table of Wisdom is depicted:

 

Proverbs 9:1-2, 51Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: 2She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.” “5Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.”

 

            God has indeed built his house, the church.  He has prepared the spiritual feast available to all, provided the table, the spiritual food and drink and now offers the invitation to any and all who will come and join in his spiritual feast.  Now Jesus tells us about those who will refuse.

 

v.1818And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.”

 

            The first says; God, I don’t have time to attend your feast, I’ve bought a piece of land and must go to see it.  My business is such that I just can’t find time for the spiritual things that are offered to us in this life.  Is this a valid excuse?  Of course not; it doesn’t even make sense; would we buy land sight-unseen?  Oh, in years past there were people selling land in Florida that people would buy sight-unseen and they usually would up with something they didn’t really want and couldn’t use.

 

v.1919And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.”

 

            The second man in Jesus example has another excuse related to his business.  He’s bought five yoke of oxen and needs to go test their strength and endurance so he can’t attend God’s spiritual supper.  Like many excuses that men devise; this one is pretty flimsy too.  Who would buy work animals without proving them first and who would need to prove them at supper time when most everyone else would be eating their evening meal.?

 

v.2020And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”

 

            Now we have what is probably the most flimsy of the excuses.  I’ve gotten married so I cannot come.  In terms of spiritual responsibilities and our relationship to God we would hope that our wives or husbands would be an encouragement, not a hindrance to our service to God.  Paul did speak of the fact that husbands will be tempted to place their wives ahead of God:

 

I Corinthians 7:3333But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.”

 

And while it is usually just the opposite condition, where husbands hinder their wives, wives need to be aware that they may indeed hinder their husbands in their service to God, in carrying out the responsibilities that their God-given talents require and cost both of them their souls.

 

v.2121So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.”

 

            So when those that the lord of the feast invited refused to come; he sent his servants out to sweep the streets, lanes and alleys.  Bring in anyone that you find, the poor, those that are crippled, even the blind beggars, invite everyone you see.  What was left of the Israelite nation, represented by the three who refused, would reject Jesus and he would, literally, invite every person on earth to come to his spiritual feast in their place.

 

v.22-2422And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.”

 

            The servant of the Lord reports that there is still room at God’s feast.  So he is given further instructions; go out into the highway, country roads and lanes, hedges and other places where men might be found and bring them in too.  Then he closes his lesson with this admonition:  Those originally invited will never taste of the feast provided.  In the application to the Jews, Jesus told them this:

 

Matthew 21:43Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

 

When the Jews in the city of Pisidia refused the teaching and preaching of Paul and Barnabas; Paul told them this:

 

Acts 13:4646Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”

 

When they rejected the doctrine of Jesus Christ, Paul turned to those who would listen.  And sometimes we need to quit wasting our time with the people around us who will not hear and reach out to those who will.

 

v.25-2625And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

 

            What does the word translated “hate” here really mean?  Jesus explains it this way in Matthew’s record:

 

Matthew 10:3737He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

 

            If we do not love everyone else less than God; Jesus Christ; then we cannot be his disciple.  Why?  It is in total harmony with another of the instructions that Jesus gave:

 

Matthew 6:3333But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

 

            We are to put God first.  It’s that simple.  Oh, we still have to honor our earthly obligations, raise our children properly, provide for our families, love our neighbor, work to earn our living from the bounty that God has provided through his providence but when it comes down to the real purpose for which man was created it is just as the wisest of men recorded:

 

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

 

v.2727And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

 

            Whoever does not carry his part of the load, whoever does not take up the way of the cross, bear our own cross, figuratively speaking, cannot be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Again, another way of saying the we have to put God, Jesus Christ and his church ahead of all others in our lives, especially ourselves.

 

v.2828For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

 

            Before we launch out into any endeavor on this earth, especially a business venture, we must first stop and count the cost.  We need to understand the price of success, else, unless we are extremely fortunate, we will fail.

 

v.29-3029Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.”

 

            Those that are politically minded and understand local politics might find a parallel here in the downtown Shreveport convention center and hotel project that stays in the news here constantly.  These are practical business matters that we all understand but the principle applies to our service to God as well.  Who, that has committed his life in service to God and has not counted the cost that he will bear will succeed?  Not many.  There is an old adage that when the going gets tough the tough get going.  We can paraphrase that and say as well that when the going gets tough other folks get going too, but in a different sense, they bail out, leave their commitments and in the spiritual realm lose their souls by severing their relationship with God.

 

v.31-3231Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.”

 

            Or what king goes to war without understanding what the opposing king has in terms of manpower and war making capability?  Oh, they have; even in our history.  When Japan initiated their attack against us in 1941, they did so with those in their military who were familiar with the United States and had lived here in government service telling them they were making a major mistake.  We must do the very same thing when we commit ourselves to God to make sure that we can complete this race of life as his child.

            Jesus goes further and says that if we do make this mistake then we best be petitioning God for forgiveness and peace before it is too late.  And then he repeats the admonition that he had made earlier:

 

v.3333So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

 

            We have to count the cost of being a Christian; we have to be able to bear up under the burden that may come our way when we commit ourselves to serve God.  If we don’t and we drop out, Jesus says that we are not worthy of being his disciple.

 

v.34-3534Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

 

            If we become discouraged, if we quit and leave our commitment to serve God, Jesus says we’re just like salt that has lost its flavor, we become useless for the purpose intended.  Then just like men do when salt is useless, God will cast us aside as worthless, serving no purpose, just like the tailings from an old mine that are cast aside and clutter the landscape.  This is a strong indictment; it comes from God and should warn us that we need to strengthen, perhaps even renew our commitment to serve God and walk this life as his faithful children.