Just imagine yourself a servant in the chief Pharisee’s house. Dinner on the Sabbath is always exhausting for you. But today is different! There’s excitement in the air! You can hardly wait to hear what the special guest has to say. After everyone is served, you finally get to take your seat with all the other servants, the poor, and the afflicted. Only the religious leaders, the lawyers, and the wealthy are worthy enough to sit in the upper rooms near the chief Pharisee and his special guest.
Jesus had become one of the most famous, but controversial figures especially among the religious elite. Why in the world did the chief Pharisee invite Him anyway? Was he trying to impress Jesus? Or was he setting a trap to publicly convict Him?
This Jesus no doubt had a reputation for not following the religious traditions. Maybe that wasn’t such a terrible thing. In fact, from your point of view, everything you’d heard about Jesus was all good. He preached to the poor! He healed the sick, the afflicted, and the brokenhearted! He cleansed lepers, cast out demons, and even raised the dead! Jesus was gentle and kind, ministering to the lowest of the low, yet spoke with such boldness and authority that rattled even the best lawyers. He demonstrated power with love and compassion like no other religious leader you’d ever known before.
Even you had to admit the religious leaders should feel threatened. Jesus was planting seeds of doubt in your heart and mind too. He made you question all the traditions . . . the religious system. . . this man-made machine that did nothing but burden and condemn you. Was this what God intended? You knew something was missing. You hungered for more, and so far, Jesus was the only one that whet your appetite.
In Luke chapter 14,
1And it came to pass, as [Jesus] went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.
All eyes are focused on Jesus. Some listen and watch Jesus with wonder and amazement, while others are critiquing His every word, calculating how to outsmart Him.
The religious leaders weren’t about to let one man undermine their authority. They would put a stop to this nonsense once and for all! While they plotted, waiting for an opportunity to convict Him, Jesus did what He had always done . . . the only thing He knew to do . . .
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?
Is it okay to have mercy and heal this poor man on the Sabbath? Would it be alright to reach out and show some compassion, and relieve somebody’s suffering on the Sabbath?
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.
Everyone marveled at the miracle they had just witnessed.
Once again, Jesus challenged this complicated religious system with something far greater than man’s laws. Jesus touched a life with the love and mercy of His Heavenly Father.
Jesus knew their hearts. He saw right through the ones seeking truth and the ones perverting it for their own selfish gain. They waited to see what He would do next . . .
Jesus spoke in three parables.
The first parable was to those invited to the dinner:
7And 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;
The Pharisees and lawyers smugly nod in agreement. That’s right. Save the upper seats for us, the honorable ones.
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.
Everyone is puzzled, intently listening for further explanation. What is Jesus talking about? . . . He that humbles himself?
You can’t help but think . . . Oh Jesus! I’m poor and lowly, just a humble servant, but the only seat I’ve ever been granted is the lowest. Then you realize Jesus is speaking about something more than seating arrangements at a dinner party.
Find your place . . . Take your seat, but understand this seat may be lower than you think. Don’t think too highly of yourself.
Are you willing to be a servant for the Kingdom of God? Pharisees and lawyers, and all you who think you’re somebody, are you willing to abandon it all? All your traditions . . . your ideas and philosophies . . . your social status . . . your riches? Will you let it all go to humble yourself and become a servant so that Jesus Christ can be lifted up?
Jesus further explains in a second parable. This time He addresses the host of the dinner:
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.
What? Did He say what I thought He said? Jesus was including you and all those sitting in the lowest chambers.
Don’t invite the elite crowd, the rich and influential, but invite those that have nothing . . . invite those that society deems worthless, the ones that can’t repay your favor.
You can hear the hostility in the whispers from the upper rooms . . . Who does Jesus think He is? Exclude us, and invite the poor and lowly? We are the holy ones! We keep all the religious traditions! We have studied the law and carefully guard it!
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.
Yes, let’s talk about My Father’s Kingdom.
Jesus spoke in parables to all those that were hungry for something more than a special seat, or a VIP status. He was talking to those seeking something greater than the here and now. He was talking about the Kingdom of God . . .
Jesus begins the third parable:
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.
What an honor to be chosen to come to a great supper! But they decided they had better things to do.
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.
The Lord had a great feast prepared, but they refused it. They blew off the greatest invitation ever offered anyone.
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.
Extend the invitation to whoever is willing to come.
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.
Fill the house with anyone who will reverence and honor the Master.
24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
And to those who put their interests and pursuits above the Lord’s calling, when all their earthly pleasures have run out, the ones sitting at the Lord’s table will still be feasting for all eternity. . . partaking of the Lord’s pleasures forevermore.
The elite sitting in the upper rooms had no clue what these parables meant. However, Jesus was speaking volumes to you. All your life the religious did nothing but look down on you. You were sick of the system that was nothing more than a marketplace where the rich and powerful exploited the poor and the weak. Religion had become a drudgery of buying and offering sacrifices to make things right, only to have to do it all over again.
Now for once in your life, Jesus was offering you something more . . . more than just a temporary fix . . . more than an invitation to sit in the chief Pharisee’s house. Jesus was offering you a place of eternal forgiveness and fellowship . . . a place to belong and be loved.
No longer looking in from the outside wishing you could be a part of the “holy” ones, Jesus was inviting you to come and dine with Him for all eternity. You didn’t understand any of it, but His words tugged at your heart, and tears of joy began to trickle down your face. Oh, what amazing grace!
What about you? Do these parables make any sense?
You’ve been invited!
Have you answered the call God has placed on your life?
Maybe you’ve experienced God’s love and mercy. You’ve found your place at the table, but like the social elites in these parables, you would like to have a say in who is seated next to you. You would like to decide who God calls and uses for His Kingdom.
Okay God, I can get along with this person, but please don’t make me have to sit next to this one. Do you know where they came from? Do you know what happened to them? Do you know what they used to do? I can tolerate this kind, but not someone that’s been through that. Please put me next to somebody I can relate to . . . somebody with a good upbringing . . . someone influential, with some class. Let me sit beside someone that’s got some talent and charisma . . . someone that has something to offer the church.
Have you ever been guilty of the same pious attitude?
All of us are invited to come regardless of who we are, or where we’ve been, or what we’ve done. No matter how influential or dignified, no one dictates who gets in or who stays out, and no one dictates where God places them at His table . . . no one except for Jesus Christ.
Maybe you’ve been snubbed by “churched” people, so much that you feel hopelessly condemned. You feel so unworthy like you’ll never measure up . . . like you’ll never fit in with any church. The truth is none of us is worthy, except for Jesus Christ!
It doesn’t matter what your background is. Rich or poor, intellectual or uneducated, talented or not, God has invited you to sit at His table. It doesn’t matter what crimes you’ve committed. Jesus is calling whosoever will, come! You are not less than anybody else. We all are nothing without the precious blood of Christ covering our lives. Every one of us come on the same ground . . . sinners in need of a Savior.
If you don’t know this Savior, Jesus, it’s really easy. If you want to be covered by His mercy and grace, all you have to do is call on Him right now.
Jesus, I know I am a wretched sinner. Without you I am nothing so I’m asking you to come into my heart right now and take control of my life. I surrender everything to you and ask you to wash my sins away, make me a new creature, and use my life for Your honor and glory.
Use the comment section to let me know if you prayed this prayer of repentance, or if you just want to share your thoughts about the article.
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