The Book of Luke, Jesus Teaches at the House of the Pharisee - Lesson 178
We are in the 14th chapter of Luke where we find the Lord Jesus Christ teaching at a Sabbath dinner at the home of one of the chief Pharisees.
He has already healed a man from the disease of dropsy to the outward dismay but inward delight of the Pharisees for the healing took place on the Sabbath.
He then has identified a situation where he has observed the guests of the Sabbath dinner jockeying for the best position at the dinner tables.
He then has taught them about the need to engage in the doing for others so that no self benefit is possible.
He has told them to change the normal guest list from those who could benefit them to a guest list consisting of the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind.
In others words they are so engrossed in the worldly way of giving where recompense for that giving is always expected, that he challenges them to only host those who can not possibly repay them, the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind.
It is interesting to see how Jesus Christ offers to them, what they would consider extreme.
Who ever heard of such a thing as to invite such a group.
But this challenge is given to wake up their thinking and to train them in kingdom giving for kingdom giving is giving as God gives.
Kingdom giving is grace giving where there is no consideration for being paid back in this life.
It is giving in God’s name, it is giving for God with the expectation of recompense in God’s kingdom, not in this life.
When we study the Gospels we should remember that Jesus Christ always teaches with eternity in mind.
He expects those who are his to trust him, which is eternal, instead of trusting themselves, which is temporal.
Jockeying for position is done because trusting in God is not done.
But one thing you can be sure of is that God wants you to be in a position to trust him and that is why Jesus Christ says to step out in faith and serve those who cannot serve you.
So not being able to receive recompense from those you serve will leave you only to trust God for recompense.
It is amazing how we are so reluctant to put ourselves in a position where there is none to trust but God.
We work diligently, perhaps even a lifetime, to provide security for ourselves so we do not have to trust God, but the best place for us to be is doing God’s will where trust in Him is always required.
I used to have my children jump into my arms from a ledge or high place to show them that I would catch them.
I wanted them to learn to trust me.
I have done this with my granddaughters also.
Sometime in these beginning lessons on trust my granddaughter begged me to get closer to her for she feared that I could not catch her at such a distance.
That is what we fear also.
Can God catch us if we have to jump such a distance?
Our lack of faith keeps that distance down to a minimum but God wants you to trust him for a great distance.
He wants you to trust him to catch you from any ledge and from any distance.
So we are to get on the ledge for God and know that God will catch us regardless of the height or the distance.
Some of the hardest times but greatest times of learning in this ministry was when we had no where to go except God.
There were times when our backs were up against the wall but God delivered us.
That kind of trust is expected by God every day regardless of the prosperity He brings and we must always acknowledge that any prosperity we receive is because of God’s blessing upon this ministry.
So that is where Jesus Christ is coming from when he tells them to invite the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind.
So our study today proceeds in this same vein with Jesus Christ continuing to teach at this same Sabbath dinner.
But at this juncture his teaching is interrupted by an outburst from one of the diners.
Luke 14:15-24, And 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. 16Then 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. 18And 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. 19And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21So 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. 22And 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.
Now this outburst came from one of them that sat at meat.
It almost seems to be an attempt by this one to break the ice that was forming at the dinner because of the admonitions of Christ to the guests and to the host.
This saying seems to be given here because the kingdom giving that Christ was proposing here on earth was far beyond this crowd.
This man’s outburst diverted the mind to the Messianic dinner in the kingdom which was of common knowledge at this time.
This saying was often said by the Jew.
As Christians we think of this dinner as the marriage supper of the lamb but the Jews thought of it as the Messiah’s dinner which would happen when the kingdom came to Israel.
Why did the man speak this at this time?
No doubt there was much tension at this dinner.
Christ had reproved first the guests and then the master of the house with hard and personal sayings.
So perhaps this was a diversion tactic to change the subject to something more acceptable to the guests and the host.
It was an attempt to concentrate upon the kingdom instead of concentrating upon the behavior of the guests and the host.
It tended toward a desire to be so heavenly minded as to be no earthly good.
There seems to be a frustration expressed in this outburst in that the good rules of humility and love which Christ had given were far beyond anything that they could do on this earth so this man longs for the kingdom of God when these and other good laws will triumph.
He therefore pronounces them blessed who shall have a place in that kingdom and therefore endorses what Jesus said regarding the receiving of rewards for being a grace giver for God.
I suppose that there was a chorus of Amen’s to this man’s outburst for no doubt all the guests and the host expected to take part in the Messianic dinner in the kingdom for they were good devout Jews were they not?
This is what Jesus Christ challenges by relating a story of a certain man who made a great supper.
He brings this to their attention to show them that their great confidence in being at the dinner is wishful thinking and not based upon a firm foundation.
So who are those that will enjoy that great privilege of being at the kingdom supper?
The Jews thought that they had a monopoly on the guest list but Jesus Christ is about to show them that they will generally fail to be at the dinner for they will fail to receive the Messiah that is now before them.
The Pharisees were concerned with their position, not only at the dinner table of their host, but also the table of the kingdom of God.
Their whole system of religion was based on jockeying for position not only in Israel but jockeying for position in the kingdom.
We see this most clearly in the example concerning the disciples given in:
Matthew 18:1-3: At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
So this kind of preaching by Jesus Christ is a bombshell to all at the Sabbath dinner for Jesus Christ exposes their ambition as the exact opposite of what is required for entry into the kingdom of God.
Instead of pride in one’s accomplishments it is humility that elevates a man or woman in the kingdom.
Ambition to be in the kingdom of God is not the ticket that God requires, for ambition does not come from a humble heart.
The ironic thing about this man’s statement is that he spoke from the vantage point of one who would be sitting at the table in the kingdom and I imagine there was not one at the Sabbath meal who didn’t think as he thought.
No doubt they all thought that if anyone were to be in the kingdom it would be all those at this Sabbath meal.
They were all jockeying for a position at a kingdom banquet in which they were not even going to be a partaker.
So Jesus speaks a word of warning to this man and those like him in verses 16‑24.
He tells of a certain man who plans a great feast, and who sends out invitations, well in advance, to all those guests He desires to attend.
In a day without clocks, the date of the banquet was announced long before, but the exact time only was announced the very day.
We would conclude that God is the host, that the feast is the kingdom of God, and that the invitation would be the covenant promises to Israel, along with the pronouncements of the prophets, including John the Baptist.
The invited guests are the people of Israel, the Jews.
We would assume that all the invited guests implied by their deeds and words that they were going to be a part of God’s promised kingdom.
It is only when the announcement is made that the feast is ready that the invited guests start pouring out excuses.
The first two excuses have to do with material things - and each are pretty lame excuses.
One man excuses himself to look at land he has just purchased, which apparently he had not inspected before the purchase.
What kind of fool buys a piece of land first, and then goes to check it?
I guess like the foolish people from up north who bought Avalon Beach property expecting to find views of white sand beaches.
Another excuses himself to “try out” his oxen, which he bought untested.
If you have already bought ten oxen, what is the use of testing them after you have already bought them?
When we buy something new, we are almost always preoccupied by it.
Preoccupation with the things of the world is a common excuse for not following Jesus Christ.
A third has to stay at home with his wife, whom he has just married.
He intends to put his family first before the Lord while we know from our study in Luke that the best thing we can do for our family is that they are not first in our lives, but that the Lord is first.
These excuse makers condemn themselves; their excuses are only a cloak hiding the fact that they do not want to come.
Someone has said "Back of every excuse is a lack of desire."
Also the saying is “You do what you want to do!”
There is no rational reason why someone would not want to be part of this feast; they just don't want to.
These invited Israelites whom God invited and who appeared to be planning on participation in the kingdom of God, failed to accept the invitation when it actually arrived.
They had other, better, more important things, to do.
In response, God now offers the blessings of participation in His kingdom to those who would not have been considered acceptable guests, the very ones (the poor, crippled, blind, and lame (verse 21) whom God has told His host to consider inviting to a feast (verse 13).
But not just the rejected, lower, classes of Israel are invited, but even those unsuitable people along the by‑ways are compelled to come.
God will not take “no” for an answer from them.
It is not that they have chosen to be a part of God’s kingdom, but that God has chosen to make them a part of that kingdom.
It is God’s sovereign purpose that succeeds, not some superior wisdom on the part of the Gentiles.
So there never is a basis for pride on the part of those chosen.
This explains to Gentiles how it is that the blessings of the Jews can be experienced by the Gentiles, and how the majority of the Jews can fail to grasp what God is doing or to accept it.
They assumed that they had a place at the “table,” that is in the kingdom of God, and their only concern was which place that would be.
They were concerned with their position in the kingdom, while it never occurred to them to be concerned with their possession of the kingdom.
I think about young inexperienced ballplayers who think about what a hero they will be when they catch a line drive before they even have possession of the ball.
These Jews were not great “sinners” in any outward way like the tax gatherers and the prostitutes were, they were very religious people, and in fact leaders of their religion.
They had no doubt about their salvation, but they were wrong.
The last section of our passage is a solemn warning to the Jews that they will miss out of that which they presumed they had.
24For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
So this is the explanation why the Gentiles have been privileged to enter into the blessings which God promised His chosen people, Israel.
God is going to have a supper and if those bidden, those of Israel will not come he will compel those of the highways and the byways to come.
The Gentiles are those who are compelled to come, from the highways and byways.
They are, as it were, the “bums” along the roadway, the downtrodden, the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind.
Not many wise, not many noble!
The reason why the Jews lost out on the kingdom of God was because they rejected God’s clear invitation, in the person of Jesus Christ, the King of Israel.
Christ is still the key to your salvation.
The only way men get to sit at the banquet table, is by receiving Jesus Christ as the Son of God, God’s King and God’s Savior.
In the Gospels, God is declaring to you an invitation to “come to dinner at His house,” as it were, to become a member of His kingdom, to sit as His table forever, forgiven of your sins, righteous in His sight through the work of Christ, and free to enjoy intimate fellowship with Him.
The “good news” of the gospel is that God wants you to enjoy fellowship with Him, in His kingdom, forever.
To accept His Son at His invitation is to obtain the right to enter in.
To reject His Son, or even to put off a decision to accept Him, is the cause for being condemned to eternal separation from Him and His kingdom.