The Book of Luke, Jockeying For Position - Lesson 176
The word jockey can be a noun or a verb The word Jockey as a verb means to move by skillful maneuvering or to manipulate cleverly or trickily, or to trick or to cheat, or to aim at an advantage by skillful maneuvering, or to seek an advantage by trickery.
Luke 14:7-11, And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, 8When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9And 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. 10But 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 thee. 11For whosoever exalteth (to elevate) himself shall be abased (to depress); and he that humbleth (to depress) himself shall be exalted.
His bubble is burst!
Reminds us of the leaven which produces only bubbles.
The setting of this passage is in the house of one of the chief Pharisees and the teaching of this passage takes place upon the Sabbath day.
Jesus Christ has just healed the man with dropsy to the heart delight of those who are plotting his end.
They suppose He has played into their hands and his distain for their Sabbath rules and regulations are now officially noted and without doubt be reported to the authorities in Jerusalem.
However our Lord Jesus Christ is not deterred for we find Him continuing to minister by speaking the truth to all at the Sabbath dinner.
His address concerns the matter of the pride of life.
It concerns the world system that the devil has firmly fixed in place concerning the jockeying for position that men of the world naturally and normally display in their drive for power and honor.
You can be sure that things that are normal in this world are not normal in the next.
There will be no jockeying for position in God’s kingdom for in God’s kingdom all promotion is of the Lord.
Any honor that is bestowed is from the Lord and not self produced honor.
You can be sure that the proverb 27:1 that says: 2Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips will be the norm.
But jockeying for position in this world is so normal as to convince most anyone that it is an absolute and a fully righteous act.
Jockeying for position is what everybody does and if you do not do so you will not get anywhere, is the common and accepted thinking.
If you do not look out for yourself who will?
Did you jockey for position on your way to church today?
Did you try to get ahead of the driver in front of you so you could get through the church doors on time?
Did you take advantage of every second of that yellow light as you got through the intersection just by a whisker before the light turned red while possibly worrying others approaching the same intersection?
Did you jockey for position in your selection of a pew to sit in today?
It is interesting that people jockey for position in the church so as to get the pews in the back rather than the pews in the front.
But when the call to eat goes forth the best position is in the front of the line but in the church service the best position is in the back of the church.
How about our jockeying for position when we use our position or authority to get favor from someone instead of getting the same as everyone else gets and in a similar time that they do.
Perhaps we know someone who can get us ahead of others and we use that knowledge for our own advancement.
Perhaps we call upon friends or relatives in positions of authority for favors which will only benefit ourselves but in effect put others further back in line.
I remember a story that my mother-in-law (don’t tell her I told you) told about a day in the supermarket when she had her heart set on buying a loaf of rye bread but none was to be found.
Until that is when she eyed another lady who had 5 loafs in her cart.
Five loaves can you imagine? Why would anybody need five loaves of rye bread?
She told of the thought that went through her mind of how she needed to jockey for a position that would allow her to take one of those five loaves without the other lady seeing her.
After all the lady had five loaves and she had none!
But upon further consideration, and the fact that the lady was a lot bigger than she was, she gave up her jockeying and went home without that rye.
But you see how the heart moves toward doing things for one’s own advantage.
Now the Lord is very clear as to what will happen to the person who does these things, the person who puts himself in the front
of the line.
The world says that it is good to look out for yourself and such looking out will bring immediate reward but the Lord says that the ultimate result will not be good.
This reveals a principle which believers must have cemented in their hearts if they are to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
Since the world knows nothing of life everlasting its systems are only meant for operation within this life.
The world cares nothing about ultimate results for it does not believe in ultimate results.
But the Christian is to operate with regard to ultimate results.
This is looking at things from an eternal perspective and God so ordains that this is done by faith.
So Jesus Christ says: For whosoever exalteth (elevates himself) himself shall be abased (be depressed, be put down) ; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Now that word “shall” speaks of ultimate results.
It speaks of eternity’s values in view.
So Jesus Christ puts forth a parable, a real life illustration set along side a Biblical truth in order to give an example.
Jesus didn't tell fanciful stories with morals.
He took real-life situations familiar to all of us, and used them to illustrate God's truth.
He was there awaiting the serving of the Sabbath meal and took note that many there were not only Pharisees but they were also jockeys.
If you ever watch a horse race, many times good jockeys hang back from the front until they see the right opening and then they quickly dash to the front and the finish line, out maneuvering all in front.
Jockeying is looking for situations that will advantage you and then doing something about it to your benefit even if what you do steps on others.
This is what the Lord marked as they went about strategically placing themselves so as to be in the best places; that is, the places of most honor.
In Jesus' day, the seating arrangement at a dinner showed a genuine "pecking order."
The most honored person sat in a particular seat, the next most honored person in another seat, and so on down the line.
Some accounts about dinner customs of Jesus day relate an order of seating where couches of three were arranged in the shape of a “U” around a low table.
The central position at the bottom of the “U” was the place of highest honor with the place on the left the second highest and the place on the right the third highest honor.
All other couches would be arranged in an orderly manner indicating a decreasing level of honor and importance.
It was kind of like playing musical chairs.
In the game of musical chairs you do not just merrily go around the chairs but you look for advantage, you listen very carefully to the music and where you think it will stop.
You jockey for position.
You quickly go around the back and the sides of the chairs and then slow down so that most of the time you will be in the front of the chairs.
And so what Jesus observed was games that the Pharisees were playing among themselves where personal advantage was the goal.
But the Lord Jesus, by his response, gave them warning that one day that advantage will collapse and a great fall will take place.
He likened that fall to being demoted from a high position to a low position.
8When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9And 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.
In other words when you take the high place there is only one way to move and that is down.
But when you take the low place the only way to move is to move up.
If one takes the most honored seat for himself, he may be asked to be removed if the host would rather have someone else sit there.
How humiliating it would be, in front of all the rest, to be unseated in such a manner!
This is a perfect picture of a person trying to advance himself by self-promotion and politicking, instead of being humble and letting God do the advancement.
By this instruction Jesus is telling us that we are not to play the self-promotion games.
We are to do our work as unto the Lord and let God raise us up.
Psalm 75:6-7, For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
Those who want to be conformed to the image of Christ are to take the lower place and let God be the mover.
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 thee.
When we are at the lower place, we aren't there just to be noticed so we can go up higher.
Nor are we to be miserable there, and let everyone know by our facial expressions that we really don't belong there.
Neither are we to fight to be in the lower place so as to appear humble.
If someone humbles them self in order to serve us we are not to try to out humble them either by refusing their service.
If someone opens the door for you say thank you and proceed through the door.
We also may choose the low place, and act meek and humble, so that others may notice how humble we are.
This is a subtle form of spiritual pride and is another proof of the deceitfulness of the heart.
Christians thru outward or subtle pride in seeking their own honor, will even give credit to the Lord for bringing them to a place of honor but in their heart they know it was by their own scheming.
A man named George MacDonald said: In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably - or succeed more miserably.
The Apostle Paul wrote the Philippians in Phil. 2:3-11, Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Christ provides the pattern of humility to which to be conformed.
So in following Christ we are to feel privilege even in the lower place because there are those who are not even invited to the wedding and who have no place.
To truly humble yourself is to get your eyes off yourself, and to start living an “others-centered” life.
An others centered life rejoices when others are honored.
In God’s economy only those who have such humility of spirit will be lifted up, will be exalted.
And if you are called up higher, then you can go up and honor will come your way from those you join at the higher table for you will then be recognized as worthy of honor for the host has decided that and not you yourself.
This is how verse 10 reads in the Amplified Bible. But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when your host comes in, he may say to you, Friend, go up higher! Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit [at table] with you.
And then our Lord wraps up his message in this pithy comment in verse 11.
For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
So again we are faced with God’s ways.
The ways of our Lord and His kingdom are not man’s ways.
We are told here that the way up is down.
To try to “work up” is to risk being “put down.”
Those who wish to be honored must be humble and seek the lowly place.
Those who strive to attain the place of honor will be humiliated.
When we seek to take honor to ourselves, we will always be humbled - if not on earth, then for all of eternity.
The promise of exaltation for the humble and humiliation for the proud is one which is ultimately fulfilled in eternity.
And faith is the agent whereby that is believed and that belief will be an operating force in this life.
Jesus had the right to teach on this subject, because He fulfilled it perfectly.
He is the ultimate example of someone who deserved the highest seat, but took the lowest seat, and was "moved up" to the highest seat by God the Father.