Luke 14:1–24. Talk Over Lunch.
Key Notes: Seven healings on Sabbath. Sit with the poor. How can we refuse the invitation? We cannot be His disciples.
One would think that after the severe warnings of Luke 12 and 13, that Jesus would stop interacting with his opponents. But He continued to preach the Good News to them as well as to warn of the bad news. The four episodes in this lesson all happened on a single Sabbath at a Pharisee's house.
14:1–6 At the entrance to a Pharisee's house where he was going to dinner on Sabbath, there stood a man with enough edema (water in the tissues) to be obvious to the crowd. It was most likely a kidney disease. Jesus repeated the question He had asked before (Lk.6:6): Is it lawful to heal on Sabbath or not? The experts did not answer. He healed the man, and turned an application question to them: if your son or an ox fell in the well would you not pull him out on Sabbath? There is an analogy between the man drowning in his own fluid and the ox drowning in the well. It is similar to the analogy of the crippled woman bound by Satan for‘ years, and the untying of the donkey on Sabbath (Lk.13:11–16). The experts could not reply.
Jesus healed seven times on the Sabbath: (Lk.4:35,38; Lk.6:6; Lk.13:13; Lk14:4; Jn.5:9; Jn.9:14). The only other breach of Sabbath was the disciples eating grain in a field. (Lk.6:1–5). These repeated Sabbath healings beg to be explained: Jesus is obviously trying to tell the Pharisees something because few actions would catch their attention quite as dramatically.
Isaiah 58 is a criticism of Israel's Sabbath observances and fasting. In this passage God demands fairness to workers (58:3), freeing the oppressed (58:6), feeding the hungry (58:7), housing the homeless and clothing the naked (58:7), rather than formal religious exercises. Jesus did not refer to this passage directly, but His overall criticism of the Pharisees was similar. Lk.11:42
We may well ask ourselves if we are part of a helping and healing ministry on Sunday, or any other day.
14:7–11 Inside the Pharisee's house Jesus observed the guests shuffling for the best seat --to the right of the host. He did not chide them for that, but diplomatically pointed out that at a wedding feast, they should take the lowest place at the other end of the table. Then He told them that God abases those who are proud and elevates those who are humble.
He was not there to teach them etiquette, although protocol is very important at weddings and formal parties even today. He was there to teach them, and us, that our actions and thoughts have an influence on how God treats us. If we think too highly of ourselves, God will put us down.
"If we judge ourselves truly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world." (ICor.11:31,32)
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (Jm.4:6)
14:12–14. Then He advised the Pharisee who invited Him, not to invite his peers--kinfolk and rich friends--but the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind. That would be rewarded at the resurrection of the just. [Note that there are two resurrections: Jn.5:29; Dan.12:2; Rev.20:5,6,11–12.] But Jesus' primary message is that we should take care of, even give preference to, the poor of our land. Our motive in serving is not to receive a temporal reward but to receive God's commendation.
14:15–24 Finally, Jesus responded to a guest who was looking forward to celebrating in the Kingdom of God. He told the story of a man who made a great banquet, invited many, all of whom consented, but then found that the guests were more interested in their recent acquisitions than in his dinner. The host ordered his servant to invite the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind from the streets of the city. When the servant reported that there was still room, the host ordered the servant outside the city into the country roads to fill up the banquet hall. The final word was that none of the original guests would taste the Banquet.
The first invitation was probably to the religious elite; the second then to the common people of Israel; the last was to the Gentiles, those outside the city. The order to "compel them to come in" was used by Augustine to justify persecuting those who resisted the Gospel, and led eventually to the Inquisition. Urging is not forcing, but we do not even urge people.
Most of the excuses given today for not accepting God's invitations are also reasons for not going to church on Sunday:
they are hypocrites and bigots;
my parents made me go as a child and my wool suit was itchy;
it is my only day to fish, play golf or rest in the cabin.
I have intellectual doubts.
I hope it isn't true because I would have to change my life-style.
All three messages center on the judgment day, when God will ask the crucial questions:
•Do you put yourself first? Pride will lead to humiliation in the Kingdom.
•Do you love only your friends? Selfishness gets no reward in the Kingdom.
•Do you refuse God's invitation? Worldliness results in being excluded from the Kingdom.
14:25–33 Jesus was followed by a great crowd and He turned to warn them of the cost of discipleship. He said "you cannot" three times.
1). If you do not hate your family, you cannot be my disciple. (14:26) This sounds radical, but family solidarity is the greatest obstacle to becoming a follower of Jesus. In Jewish, Moslem, Hindu, communist or secular society, pulling away to become a believer invites rejection, abuse, even death. You have to turn your back on your family and culture.
2). If you do not bear the cross, you cannot be a disciple. (14:27) The cross is, at least, giving up the old nature to death so that the new life of the Spirit can take hold and grow.
3).Count the cost. If you do not renounce all that you have, you cannot be My disciple. 14:33
So how can we accept God's invitation? The cost is too great! What a dilemma! But read the next lesson.