Sunday, September 8, 2019
Benjamin Franklin once observed that “A man all wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.” While this quotation has been expressed in many different ways, we all understand it’s truth.
JESUS CAME TO DINNER
In our study in Luke 14 we see Jesus addressing this tendency of ours from three different perspectives. This all takes place in the leader of the Pharisees’ home at a singular event: the banquet.
THE SET UP (Luke 14:1-6)
First, to make a point the religious leaders invite Jesus to dinner, watching Him closely. They want to make a point to show that Jesus is a fraud. To do this they select a man whose limbs are painfully swollen from, possibly, heart, kidney, liver or other disease. While everyone is watching, they set this poor man in front of Jesus to see what Jesus would do.
Jesus rhetorically asks the obvious question in the minds of His hosts, heals the man and sends him on his way. In their arrogance, the religious rulers knew Jesus could heal the man and that they could not. So, they just blow by this evidence of God’s power and sit silently as Jesus demonstrates His authority to do good.
Kingdom people do not make victims of poor, sick and broken people. They always do the right thing towards them, even when it is in challenging circumstances.
THE OBSERVATION (Luke 14:7-14)
Second, as Jesus is preparing to tell the parable of the Great Banquet, He observes people competing for the prime seats at the head table. The scene must have been rather obvious–perhaps even a bit humorous–as people challenge each other’s position, edging into tight places. Imagine the scowls, the rolling eyes, and the exasperated sighs.
Jesus pauses to give practical advice that contributes to our understanding of the culture of God’s Kingdom people. Take the lower seat and the way of humility and God will lift you up. Seek to exalt yourself, Jesus says, and you will be humbled (vs. 11).
Furthermore, Jesus speaks to the man who had invited Him to dinner:
“When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”Luke 14:12-14 (NLT)
With authority Jesus instructed His host to shift his guest list to the outcasts and nobodies. The reason? Because they cannot reciprocate the favor, God will recognize his generosity.
THE GREAT BANQUET
Finally, Jesus tells a parable about a Grand Banquet. The man’s prime invitations to the dinner meet with flimsy excuses that 1) do not recognize the significance of the feast and 2) defer their energies to things they believe to be of more importance. Their refusal to join the man for his banquet enfuriates him.
Will the Pharisees hear the implication about the banquet in the kingdom of God? The advice Jesus has just given to them in verses 12-14 is based upon a generous God who seeks to fill His banquet table with anyone who desires to be there through the invitation of His Son.
Blowing past the flimsy excuses of the first invitees, the man has his servants scour the neighborhood for anyone who is hungry for a meal at his table.
“The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”Luke 14:21-24 (NLT)
THE GRAND BANQUET OF THE KING
People who know Jesus act differently than those who need to impress others of their importance. Kingdom people know they are hungry, blind, crippled, poor, homeless, burdened and broken. When Kingdom people hear the invitation, they come running to the Master’s feast!