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Sunday, September 24, 2017

posted Sep 25, 2017, 12:11 AM by Site Administrator



Luke 14:1-24

Key Verse 14:23


"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.


First, "He who humbles himself will be exalted" (1-14). On a Sabbath, Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee. The foods were well prepared. But he was being carefully watched. Moreover, right in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy – whole bodily swelling. Jesus could not enjoy the meal any longer, because he was set up. It was the Sabbath, and these Pharisees wanted to see how Jesus would respond when he saw a man with dropsy right in front of him. Now Jesus realized what’s going on. How did Jesus respond? Look at verse 3. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" Jesus did not withdraw only because of their trap; instead, he chose a frontal breakthrough. He challenged them whether it was lawful to heal or not. Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not? This was a good question. The Jews knew that it was prohibited in the Bible. So, they should have said, "No." But instead, at this question, they remained silent, showing that, when they thought about this carefully, they were not so sure.


       At this, taking hold of the man, Jesus healed him and sent him away. Then he asked them, "If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?" It’s a common sense. And they had nothing to say. Their challenge was theological - Is it lawful to  heal on the Sabbath? At this, Jesus did not come up with many Bible verses or with divine theological understanding; rather, he came up with common sense. When we think about this episode, we see that we must not be just religious people, but real people who love God and struggle to serve Him wholeheartedly.


It was the prominent Pharisee’s house where the meal was served. All the guests were VIPs. But when these VIPs gathered together, they were behaving strangely. They competitively picked up the places of honor at the table. They were prestigious people; maybe, many of them had Doctoral degree; some of them were synagogue rulers; others were rich people. So, they should have behaved in a noble way as prestigious people. But they were not noble at all, struggling to have the places of honor among themselves. Their desire for greatness was acceptable; we all have this desire. But the problem was that they were great in their own eyes, thinking that they deserved such places of honor; at that time, they were not great at all, but very silly; think about these middle aged or aged people struggling to have the places of honor among themselves - do they look great? No, they are silly.


When Jesus noticed this, he gave them a parable. Jesus says, "8When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited." The reason this person takes the place of honor is because he has certain qualification, and thereby, he thinks that he deserves it. Maybe, he is the most honorable person there, so no one says anything about him taking that seat. But the problem is that one who is more distinguished than him is invited also. So, later, when that person comes, the owner of the house comes to him and says to him, "Give this man your seat." Then, in front of everyone, this person will be humiliated; not only so, when he looks for a seat, all the honorable seats are already taken that he has to take the least important place or even on the floor. This may happen to anyone who thinks that he deserves the place of honor. So, when you are invited to a feast or dinner or any other meeting, don't take the place of honor, even if you are great. Instead, when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."


I take this lesson very realistically; I think about how humiliated I will be, if what Jesus says happens to me. So, when I am invited to dinner or meeting, I never try to take any place of honor; instead, I take the least important seat, or from the beginning, just sit on the floor. There I feel very comfortable and secure because I know that I have no lower place to go. Then, usually, someone comes to me and invites me to sit on the chair appropriate for me.


When we think about what Jesus says in this passage carefully, we can see that ultimately, Jesus encourages us to be great, to be recognized and honored, taking the places of honor; he wants us to be exalted. So, don't be lazy; don't be losers; instead, seek greatness, struggle to achieve something great, working hard and using every flying minute very effectively. But the question is: How should we be exalted? One thing you must remember is: Never exalt yourself. Even if you are great, even if you have done great things, still don't exalt yourself. Let's say you have done great things - serving 20 Bible studies every week, establishing many disciples. You are really great. Everyone recognizes it. But the minute you claim your greatness, the minute you demand some special treatment, your greatness is gone, and no one considers you great; you look simply silly, just like those prestigious people who were busy to secure the places of honor at the banquet table. Never exalt yourself even when you are great. Instead, even after doing great things, even after achieving great things - establishing many great disciples, getting PhDs in your area, or becoming the CEOs of big companies, or gaining great wealth in the world, you still willingly and happily occupy lowly positions in God and serve others humbly. Then, people will see how great you really are, and they will honor you greatly. God never leaves such real great people unnoticed; instead, at the right time, God exalts such great people highly, doing great things with them. Their greatness is indeed God's glory. Let's say that you are the CEO of Google. But on Sundays, you put on a cap, and serve others as a parking controller at the church! Isn't it glory to God? "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted." How cool it is to be exalted highly in full view of everyone. Pursue true greatness in Jesus Christ.


After this, Jesus turned to the host, and taught him a lesson. Look at verses 12 through 14. Let’s read this verse together: 


12Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."


       Birds with the same feathers gather together. Rich people form their own league; when they have a cocktail party, they invite the people of similar social class; of course, no ticket is given to poor people, because these rich people think that, if any unqualified person attends their party, their social status will be damaged. But Jesus teaches differently. He encourages us to invite those who cannot repay us, who cannot invite us back to their parties - the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. The terms he uses here - the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind - are not ordinary terms, but a spiritual language; he is not only talking about some dinner or luncheon, but about spiritual life. Giving a luncheon or dinner, or giving a feast is a charitable work that you spend your time, energy and money for others. His point is that, if our charitable activity is appreciated and paid back fully, then, we will not have any reward in heaven; but if our charitable work is not appreciated and repaid fully, then, our heavenly Father will repay us at the resurrection of the righteous. So, don't use your time, energy and money for those who can repay you, but for those who cannot - the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.


       On the campus, we see so many poor people who live with nothing to hold on – no future hope, no meaning or direction of life, or no purpose. There are many blind people also who cannot see the reality of the spiritual world; they cannot see the beauty of God, and of heaven, as a result, they only are concerned about here and now – their life purpose is to pay the bills faithfully by the means of establishing a good career; even though they are going to hell, they don’t know where they are going; sometimes, we feel frustrated, and we feel like shouting at their ears, "Can’t you see this?" The lame and crippled are defective people; many people due to their broken family problem, have become crippled in their character; some people because of their sinful life, are crooked, corrupted, and simply, they are not sound or healthy any more. Jesus wants us to take care of them, treat them, heal them and make them healthy so that they can function as sound human beings. It is really not easy to serve them, because, due to their blindness, crippled heart or spiritual poverty, they do not repay us; despite our love for them, they don't appreciate what we do for them; they don't appreciate how much we sacrifice our own precious time and money to serve them; instead, they sometimes, rebel against us or blame us, and even some of them attack us. When our love is not appreciated, when they remain indifferent to us continually, we are so discouraged and we have deep pains in us. We cry out to God for help, "Lord, how long?" But when we come to this passage, we are so encouraged, because this is exactly the very way Jesus wants us to live our life here on earth, giving a luncheon or dinner to those who cannot repay us, so that we can be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. When you live this kind of life pouring out your time and energy and money for those who cannot repay you, then, you will be repaid by God at the resurrection of the righteous – Jesus will give you the crown of righteous, and say to you, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Then, shocked, you will ask him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?" Then, he will reply, 40"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matt 25:34-40) So, instead of seeking high social status by trying to enter prestigious people's league, serve those people who cannot repay you - such people are really great in God. God will reward you greatly.


       Second, "So that my house will be full" (15-24). Look at verse 15. At Jesus’ message, one of the Pharisees said to him, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God." He sounded very spiritual. But he missed the whole point of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus wanted them to hear his message, repent and turn to God. But instead, this man came up with some spiritual expressions, as if he was already spiritual. Jesus taught the word of God to him hoping that he would accept his message and be changed, but after Bible study, this man was saying, "Yeah, those sinful people must hear this message." So, Jesus gave them another parable to show them where they were standing – these people who were talking about the kingdom of God, who talked about theology were actually rejecting the invitation to the banquet in the kingdom of God by giving their hearts to something else in this life.


       A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. These guests were prestigious people, so they were invited to this banquet several months or even years ago. Then, at the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell them, "Come, for everything is now ready." All kinds of delicious foods were ready; beautiful music was ready, and many people in the house were going to sing, "Hallelujah" written by Handel – they practiced a lot; others prepared very fun but heart-moving drama; exciting dance festival was prepared very well. Now, everything was ready; the banquet was ready. The servant came to them, and said, "Come, for everything is now ready."


       How did the people who had been invited respond? Look at verses 18 through 20. Let’s read these verses together:


18"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' 19"Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.' 20"Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.'


       Shocking! The owner of the house and all his servants had worked hard for several months to prepare this banquet; even if it was very costly and required a lot of practice and hard work, they had done everything wholeheartedly in the hope to see the banquet going very well, people enjoying it very much. But these pre-invited people refused to come! It was really shocking. All of them had understandable excuses, and didn’t come to the banquet.


Nonetheless to say, this banquet Jesus talks about is the heavenly banquet God has prepared for those who are coming back to him. People love parties, especially, well prepared parties. Some people even live for parties – during Weekdays, they work hard, so that, Friday evening, or Saturday night, they can enjoy parties. Then, how great it must be when the party is prepared by God! How awesome it must be when it is held in heaven! Jesus, the Son of God, knowing his Father’s plan, worked hard to prepare it, even through his death on the cross. What beautiful songs the angels must have prepared, memorizing and practicing them day and night! All kinds of special effects and shows are well prepared not by tricks as humans do, but by the power of God. All kinds of food, which are good for taste, and for health, and for smell, have been prepared. Then, God sends out his servants to invite people. "Come, for everything is now ready." Revelation 19:9 reads: "Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God.""


Throughout human history, it is God who has been inviting people to the kingdom of God. But what is people’s response? They turn down his invitation with lame excuses. Jesus mentions about three major excuses people make – The first, "I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me." This man’s heart was on his business and money, so he excused himself. The second, "I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me." He just purchased a 12 cylinder Porche sports car, and he could not wait a minute to try it. His heart was on his hobby, pleasures and excitement. So he excused himself. The third, "I just got married, so I can’t come." He was already committed to someone else, or something else, that in his heart, there was no room for the kingdom of God. He was just pursuing his dream and he had too many duties and obligations. So he excused himself.


The heavenly banquet, the wedding supper of the Lamb of God will be indeed great. It seems that everybody wants to go to this banquet, but actually, when they are invited, they reject it because of these three reasons – their love for money or success, their love for pleasures, fun and excitement, and their human obligations in the world. Notice that those people who refused to come to the banquet are not unbelievers, but believers who knew about the banquet. The Pharisee who said, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God," assumed that he would attend the feast because he knew about it and talked about it. But, in Jesus’ eyes, he was rejecting the invitation by giving his heart to these things also - the man talked about his knowledge of the banquet in the kingdom of God, but Jesus was talking about the real aspect of it, showing how people reject the invitation. It seems that many people want to come to the kingdom of God, because they say, "I love God," or "I want to go to heaven." But in true reality, they are rejecting God’s invitation, because of these three reasons. After preparing everything, God sends out his servants to invite people to the banquet, but people, because their hearts are preoccupied with their own things – money, pleasures, their own excitement and marriage matter, reject this invitation. They never say, "I don't want to go to the kingdom of God." They never say, "I don't believe in God any longer." Maybe, they say that, once they die - when all the pleasures and hopes in this world are gone completely, when they have no more thing to enjoy in this life, they will go to the banquet - in that way, they give no priority to the banquet in the kingdom of God - this is how people practically reject God's invitation to the banquet. Jesus taught the Pharisees the word of God, and it was his invitation to the heavenly banquet – those who accepted his teaching would come to the heavenly banquet. God’s servants come and teach the word of God to people, and it is the invitation to this heavenly banquet. "Come, for everything is now ready." In order to accept this invitation, they have to deny all of their desires for the pleasures of this world, giving their first priority to the banquet.


Now, because those who had been invited rejected to come, it seemed that the banquet would be ruined. But that’s not the case. The owner of the house would never let it be ruined. Look at verses 21 through 24. Let’s read these verses responsively:


21"The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' 22"'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.' 23"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'"


       Now, the owner sent out his servants into the streets and alleys of the town to bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. These people were jobless, having nothing to do all day long, so they were hanging out with other nobodies on the streets and alleys, chit-chat in shooting the breeze, sometimes, hacky-sackying, nothing to do, but just killing the time. What kind of people are these who are on the alleys? Yes, street people such as gangsters, so-called losers, and misfits in the society. They were completely unqualified to attend the banquet. But because the qualified people refused to come, the blessing fell on these unqualified people. The qualified people had something to hold on, so they refused to come. But how did these unqualified people respond to the invitation? Yes, of course, with great enthusiasm. They shouted, saying, "Yes, I will be there. Thank you!" They considered it as great privilege, a lifetime chance. Then, they went home, took bath several times and had hair cut; they broke their piggy bank and purchased a new suit; they did their best to prepare themselves properly, anxiously waiting for the banquet day. These people come to the banquet and enjoy it. They are blessed people.


       Today, God is inviting people to come to the banquet by sending us, his servants, but those who think they have something to hold on in this world, whether money or pleasures, whether fun or excitement, or marriage dream, make excuses; their hearts are given to those things and thereby, they reject God’s invitation. Jesus says, "I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet." But those who know that they have nothing to hold on in this world, no meaning or purpose in this world - the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, gladly accept this invitation – they are the ones who humble themselves, so they will be exalted. They are the ones who come and enjoy this heavenly banquet.


       We are thankful for God’s grace upon our life. We were like these street people – having no meaning or purpose in this world; we could not find any meaning to live for career or fame or wealth, or we tried to get some, but failed; simply, nothing to do with our life in this world – spiritually speaking, we were jobless in this life. Then, when God’s invitation came, we accepted it wholeheartedly; we took off our old clothes, took bath, and wore a new suit, and started our journey to the heavenly banquet. It is indeed God’s grace upon us that he sent his servants to us and invited us to the heavenly banquet. Now we are waiting for the time of the heavenly banquet - it will be truly glorious when we are seated around the banquet table together with all great servants of God! Now, we say to God, "Sir, what you ordered has been done, but there is still room." Then, our God commands us, "Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full." Let’s pray that we may bring this invitation to many people around us. Let us invite all blind, poor, lame and crippled on our campuses so that they too may come and enjoy this heavenly banquet.


One Word:      Come, For Everything Is Now Ready!