Today: [Luke 14] The Path of Humility: In Luke 14 Jesus again attends a dinner with a group of Pharisees. At the event, the Pharisees are jostling each other, seeking to sit at the most honorable tables, and embarrassing themselves. Jesus observes this and teaches on the necessity of choosing the path of humility in all our interactions with others. Humility is a potent weapon of spiritual warfare. Without it, our testimony is damaged, and our discipleship made shipwreck, but there is a cost when we choose to follow Jesus no matter what we might endure for doing so.
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[Luk 14:1-14 KJV] 1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. 2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. 3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? 4 And they held their peace. And he took [him], and healed him, and let him go; 5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? 6 And they could not answer him again to these things. 7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, 8 When 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; 9 And 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. 10 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. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. 12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor [thy] rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. 13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
In Luke 14:1 Jesus again enters into the house of a Pharisee for a meal on the Sabbath. One of the people in the household was afflicted with something described as “the dropsy”. What is this condition? Medical dictionaries today define this as edema, swelling of the soft tissues, usually around the legs and ankles, sometimes due to congestive heart failure. Jesus observes the man’s condition, and before acting, asks the question of those at the table, “is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day”? The Pharisees give him now answer, whereupon Jesus took the man and healed him, then let him go. What does it mean Jesus “took” the man? This was more than simply pronouncing the man well with a spoken word. The original language suggests that Jesus seized the man in his arms and handled him in some way so as to rescue him from his affliction. After letting the man go, Jesus turns to the Pharisees and asks them whether or not the law allowed for an ass or an ox to be rescued from a pit on the Sabbath. In fact, the law did not prohibit such necessary actions, but it was against the Rabbinic traditions of the day, even though these strict Pharisees at the table with Jesus by their silence admitted that they did do such things even on the Sabbath, though they were seeking out an occaision against Jesus for doing the very same, except not for a livestock animal, but a very son of Abraham.
Jesus then in v. 7 observes the guests at the Pharisee’s house were jockeying for a seat at the best rooms in house. He comments on this activity saying in v. 8 that when you are in a such a setting, one should not expect to be seated at the head of the table, but rather to take the lower seat. Then if the host bid you to come to a more honorable position they would not be shamed by being asked to move.
What is the lesson here? Jesus is giving more than an etiquette lesson. In v. 11 He concludes that whosoever exalts himself will be abased, but the humble shall be exalted. When you are in the midst of contention, or in any social setting, always go low in humility. Humility is a powerful weapon of spiritual warfare. It is the one attribute that Satan cannot counterfeit because he never had any humility. When you humble yourself, by your actions you put yourself in the place to be exalted by the hand of God every time.
Jesus then instructs in v. 12 that when you host a social activity, to call in those considered undesirable before you call your friends, siblings, or influential neighbors. Why would you do this? Because they cannot return the favor, and for this reason you will be recompensed by God Himself. This is the law of unreturned benevolence. In Proverbs 19:17 Solomon puts it this way:
[Pro 19:17 KJV] 17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
God takes a personal interest in blessing those that champion the cause of the poor. This goes beyond institutional giving. When giving to the poor, you should do it personally if at all possible, then institutionally if you must. The idea of inviting them into your social setting implies letting these people into your life on an intimate level. This was one of the most frustrating aspects of Jesus’ personality to the Jews. Jesus continually placed Himself in the company of publicans, sinners, and marginalized, despised people. Many Christians who get their feelings hurt, and protest that they have been “church hurt” experience this because they sought out the company of those they felt they had something in common with and were rebuffed. Is this being persecuted for righteousness or is it a point of correction regarding the company we keep. You will seldom if ever be rebuffed when you seek out the marginalized, the outcasts and the neglected.
[Luk 14:15-35 KJV]
15 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. 16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And 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. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed 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. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And 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. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. 25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have [sufficient] to finish [it]? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish [it], all that behold [it] begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34 Salt [is] good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; [but] men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Jesus then gives a parable of a great supper. Many invitations are sent out but those that were bidden were filled with excuses as to why they must beg off from attendance. What is the significance of this parable? When those that were bidden refused to come, the host instructs the servants to go into the highways and the byways and compel those who would be considered undesirables to come to his supper. What is the lesson here? The principle expressed here is the very basis upon which the gospel, spurned by the Jews was then offered to the Gentile nations. Were it not for this character trait in the heart of God, we would yet be in our sins, for salvation would only be for the Jews. Because those to whom Jesus was sent, rejected His message, they are now excluded. Paul declares that the Jewish nation was rejected as a natural olive branch that did not produce fruit, for the wild olive branches of the Gentile peoples to be grafted in to the plan of salvation. Why were the Jews rejected? Because of unbelief. Paul warns us then not to fall after the same manner of unbelief. Unbelief, skepticism, sarcasm, pessimism, and doubt exclude us from the banquet of good things that God has prepared for us both now and in eternity.
While the Pharisees were very tepid in their esteem for Jesus, v. 25 says that great multitudes clamored after Him. The common people received His message gladly, but in v. 26 He warns them of the cost. If we are to follow after Jesus, if we do not “hate” our very closest kinfolk, we are not accepted as a disciple of Christ. The Greek word for “hate” here, is very strong language. It means to “detest” or, to “love less”. How many times have we experienced pressure from loved ones in our walk with God? Jesus looked down through time and saw what a difficult thing many believers would face because their family members would bring pressure and persecution against His followers because of their commitment to Christ. In saying they cannot be His disciple without deciding this issue, He isn’t saying that He would reject them, but rather they would be unable to follow Him fully until they settled this very sensitive issue. This (v. 27) is the cross that we are called to bear. Jesus carried His cross and we must carry ours. His cross was to bear the sins of the world. Our cross is to endure the rejection even of our close loved ones, yet remain faithful. As a builder, erecting a building, or a captain going out to war, we must count the cost and decide beforehand that we will pay the price, the full price for following Jesus, lest we get in the midst of the effort and come up short, to our own shame and the destruction of our testimony. Making this resolve (v. 34) is what makes us salt and light in the earth. It is painful when estrangements come from family members we hold dear in our heart. There is no pleasure in going years and years without communication with parents or children, but it does happen and we must make up our mind that we will follow Jesus as best we can even if it means loss of fellowship and relationship with those closest to us.
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