it seems, attended a lot of banquets and wedding receptions. This, of course,
does not seem reconcilable to the pious, sober – and particularly sour –
attitude required of “real Christians.” The truth is, however, that he was
accused of only two things: blasphemy – and too much partying with the wrong
people. His reasoning was simple: the very Son of God was here – isn’t that
cause enough for celebration?
also used banquets, weddings and parties as construction material for his
parables and warnings, as we shall see today.
happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the
Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread,
they were watching Him closely. And there in front of Him was a man suffering
from dropsy. And Jesus answered and spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying,
"Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or
not?" But they kept silent. And He took hold of him and healed him,
and sent him away. And He said to them, "Which one
of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull
him out on a Sabbath day?" And they could make no reply to this.
(Luk 14:1-6 NASB)
are many good lessons in this passage; we shall mine a couple of simple things
from it while hurrying on to the party.
a little background and translation help. Dropsy is the old word for what the
doctors today call edema – a swelling of the body due to retention of fluids.
It usually signifies something wrong with the kidneys, liver or other such
organs. But is also would mean that the victim would be accorded a low social
status – because the disease would be seen as God’s judgment upon his secret
sins. Such a person in this stratified society would have been accorded a place
at the lowest, least prestigious table. Which therefore implies that Jesus was
reclining at the same table, which shows you what the Pharisees really thought
of this itinerant rabbi from Galilee.
aid our understanding of these things, we need a little background:
were placed in order of importance – those most important got a place
nearest to the kitchen, and got first pick of everything.
were more frequent in that time – as there was no refrigeration. You gave
the banquet this week; I came and stuffed myself. Next week it’s my
turn. Being paid back is a very real issue. \
no wristwatches, the exact time of the banquet was always, “when the cook
thinks it’s ready.” A servant would be sent out to gather the guests as
the time neared.
He began speaking a parable to the
invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of
honor at the table, saying to them, "When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do
not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have
been invited by him, and he who invited you both
will come and say to you, 'Give your place to this man,' and then in disgrace you proceed to
occupy the last place. "But when you are
invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited
you comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher'; then you will have
honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he
who humbles himself will be exalted."
(Luk 14:7-11 NASB)
is difficult for most of us to underestimate ourselves. Puffing ourselves up
in our own minds is a very human trait. This can lead to embarrassment when
you find out that the wonderful person the speaker is introducing is someone
else. So just what is humility?
is honesty about your self. It is not saying that you are short when you
are tall, dumb when you are smart. It is looking at yourself honestly –
and taking the facts about yourself as just that – facts. Not things to
be proud of, just facts.
you measure yourself, you must have a measuring stick. If you want to
practice humility, then consider what God expects of you as being the
measure of all things.
quick test is this: who is recommending you? If the answer is that you are so
wonderful that only you could accurately recommend you, then I recommend that
you don’t recommend. Let others praise you; let God lift you up.
might well ask, “Why does God insist on humility? It’s pretty obvious we’re no
threat to Him.”
humility you will never be pure in heart, for you will always be looking
to feed your ego. Without the pure heart, you cannot see God.
you have humility, you are among the gentle and kind spirits – and you
shall inherit the earth, as Christ says
more than the earth, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.
it is: God wants you humble so that he can bless you immensely. God is love;
love so great that Jesus humbled himself to the Cross. The example and the
challenge are before us.
He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, "When
you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or
your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return
will be your repayment. "But when you give
a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be
blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of
(Luk 14:12-14 NASB)
is a very pragmatic test of your love for Christ in this. It is still
considered socially graceful to return an invitation. In those days, it would
have been even more strongly done. The thought of inviting those who could not
repay would have been seen as a waste – unless you were sure that God would
repay you for it. The Old Testament has many injunctions and warnings on
this; so this was not a new thought.
it might have been a new practice. Consider those who come to your parties:
about those who don’t fit in your social structure? Those whose clothes
are not fashionable, whose use of English is more than quaint?
those who “just don’t fit in.” The misfits, the outcasts, the loners –
are they seen at your affairs?
yet, how about those who are a positive embarrassment? You uncle who
repeats all those war stories, for example.
others who could not repay?
often think that those who are physically poor are not in our church. But you
might look around. There are those whose lives are formed around the social
life of the church.
might think such people do not exist in our day. But they do. They’re just
quiet about it in front of the majority for whom money is not really a
problem. They exist; they just need seeking out.
reader will pardon my strange sense of humor in this, please. At our previous
church, we had a lady who lived on the pittance Social Security provided for
one who was totally disabled. She does not drive; her back is so painful that
she uses morphine regularly. Such people often count their months in terms of
the day the check arrives. It is not uncommon to be out of food for the last
few days of the month.
wife heard this from our friend, and she offered to bring over something for
dinner. Our friend politely said that this would be too much trouble. Betty
replied, “Oh, I could just bring some leftovers from ours.” That’s what she
says she said; that’s not what I and the kids heard. We heard “Leftovers From
Mars.” It’s a family tradition that such meals are now described that way.
your leftovers come from, make it a point to share them with those who have
little or none. God will repay you for it.
one of those who were reclining at the table
with Him heard this, he said to Him, "Blessed is everyone who will eat
bread in the kingdom of God!" But He said to him, "A
man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who
had been invited, 'Come; for everything is ready now.' "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one
said to him, 'I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at
it; please consider me excused.' "Another one
said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please
consider me excused.' "Another one said, 'I
have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.' "And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the
household became angry and said to his slave, 'Go out at once into the streets
and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and
lame.' "And the slave said, 'Master, what
you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' "And the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the
highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. 'For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall
taste of my dinner.'"
(Luk 14:15-24 NASB)
rather good at excuses; I suspect it’s all the practice we have. Look at the
ones given to Christ for the wedding supper of the Lamb:
is the press of ordinary business. Hey, I have a job to put beans on the
table. I don’t have time to help out.
of us have good jobs indeed. Jobs that pay for new toys! I can’t get to
church this weekend, I’m testing out the Hummer in the desert.
it comes down to great reasoning: I can’t go – I’m too busy taking care
of my lovely new wife.
of these things are necessarily evil. Some of them are recommended in the
Scripture. But any and all can get in the way of your walk with Jesus Christ.
The good is often the enemy of the best.
you now take a close look at the Master’s orders to his slave in this passage?
We usually see the parable as applying to those with excuses, but it also gives
us an insight on what Christ expects his servants to do, explicitly in terms of
we are to invite the obvious guests. We are not to overlook those who
grew up in the church and left. Round them up, by all means.
those who don’t look like such likely candidates. The poor – those who
have never seen the riches of Christ. The crippled – those whose lives
have been marred by horror (e.g. incest). The blind – even the hypocrites
are to be called to see. The lame – those who are broken in spirit,
having given up. Call them all.
that isn’t enough, go out and get the enemies of God – the criminals such
as the highwayman or the hedge robber. Bring the Good News to them too.
what purpose? To fill the house of God, to fill the wedding supper of the
lamb. Those who were invited first and have rejected God will not be there –
this refers to the Jews who did not receive Christ. But it seems a logical
extension that those born in the church may receive the same treatment – if
they reject Him. It is not ours to make that decision; it is ours to make his
appeal to them.