Sermon on Luke 14:1.7-14
Text: One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.
When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When 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. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But 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. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Then 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. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
We expect certain people to act in certain ways. Sometimes, parents may tell their children to act their age. There are definitely certain actions that are perceived to be completely inappropriate. For example, at a very serious time, if a person were laughing and joking, we would consider that to be, at best, in poor taste. For the Christian, there are many activities and attitudes that are appropriate behaviors. This morning, we are going to look at a couple of these actions and attitudes as we consider HOW A CHRISTIAN CONDUCTS HIMSELF AMONG THE PEOPLE OF THIS WORLD. We will see that it is 1. With A Humble Attitude and 2. With Unselfish Actions.
In verse 1 we read, “One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.” Jesus was invited by a prominent Pharisee, perhaps even a member of the Sanhedrin, to a meal. However, Jesus was not invited there as a courtesy or out of respect. Rather, he was “carefully watched.” The people there were watching Jesus to see if he might say or do something that they could use against him.
As Jesus was there, he noticed something. “He noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table.” (Verse 7). Jesus could not help but notice how the Pharisees and the experts in the law were pushing forward to get a place of prominence and honor at the table by the master of the house. They wanted the good seats, the places of honor.
In response, Jesus said, “When 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. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But 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. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Can you imagine someone having the audacity at a wedding reception to go up to the head table and take the seat reserved for the best man or maid of honor? If someone did, and had to be asked to move, we would look down at that person. Even if they should try to take a seat at one of the side tables that had been reserved for parents or ushers or whatever, we would think poorly of that person. If that person had some special honor, we would expect that he would be directed to an appropriate place. However, to assume this honor and take the highest place, would result in disgrace.
By this, Jesus is teaching us that, as Christians, we are to have a humble attitude. We consider others better than ourselves. What does it mean to be humble? Jesus shows us this very clearly by his own actions. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is the Lord of all. Mankind exists to serve him. Yet, he took on human flesh to be the Savior of all. All people, including you and me, would have been lost forever because of our sins, including the sinful pride and selfishness. Jesus, the Lord of all, became the Servant of all, so that our sins would be paid for. Jesus did what we could not do. He was never selfish. He was humble. He was perfect for us. He, also, laid down his life on the cross to pay for all of our sins. When he rose from the dead, he showed us in unmistakable terms that all of our sins were paid for. Now, we are invited to the wedding feast of heaven. The Lord of all became the Servant of all.
Humility is a hard lesson to learn. We have all been trained to look out for ourselves. It is also the opposite of what our human nature tells us we are to be. Yet, when we realize what we are by nature, namely lost and condemned creatures, and how we could not save ourselves, we are humbled. We are humbled because we see that God had to come in and rescue us. This humility will show itself in our dealing with others. As Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:3, “In humility consider others better than yourselves.”
This is not always an easy thing to do. We all like to have things our way. If people do not do things our way, we become upset. We do not want to cooperate with others. We get what I like to call the “I’m taking my ball and going home” syndrome. ‘If you are not going to do it my way, then forget you.’ This is not the attitude that we, as Christians are to have. In this portion of God’s Word, Jesus is teaching us that when we deal with others, whether it is a fellow Christian or an unbeliever, we are to have a humble attitude. This means that, if it is not a sin, we can be willing to let others have their way. We will be willing to allow something, if it ultimately serves for the furthering of God’s kingdom.
Yet, we know that our flesh gets worried if we are humble and do not always get our way. We feel that we will be taken advantage of. First of all, even if there were the case, we know that we are doing things the way that God wants them to be done, and there can never be anything wrong with that. Secondly, as we deal with our fellow believers and each one is looking out for the best interests of the others, you will have a more productive congregation as we strive to give glory to God. Thirdly, as we deal with unbelievers, and we do not always insist that we are in the right, God may be giving you the opportunity to witness to them all the wonderful things he has done for you. We pray that God would help us to have a humble attitude, mirroring the humility Jesus showed in coming to be our Savior.
To further illustrate the Christian life, Jesus turned his attention from the guests jostling for the better seat to the host who had invited him. Jesus said (verses 12-14), “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. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Here Jesus is not discouraging or even prohibiting hospitality toward your relatives, friends or neighbors. Rather, he is warning about only giving something or doing something with the hope of getting something in return. He encourages helping others, giving to those who cannot repay or do something in return. It is easy for us to do things for others, when we expect to get something back, or at least some recognition. However, to do something with no hope of getting anything in return is something that goes against the grain by nature.
Jesus speaks of the fact that “you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Recall the scene in Matthew 25. Remember how the believers were placed at Jesus’ right and the unbelievers on his left. Jesus said to the believers, “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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Verses 35&36). They will say, ‘When did we do this?’ In response, Jesus will say, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Verse 40). When we help others out, we, in essence, are serving Jesus. We do not help others out in hope of repayment or recognition. We help others unselfishly.
Just think for a moment, who can you help? Perhaps you can help someone who is sad and needs comforting. Perhaps there is the next door neighbor, who needs help with various things. You can help someone by praying for them. Perhaps, it is as simple as holding the door for someone when they are going into a store. There are charitable organizations, such as the Committee on Relief, to which we can donate to. This is just scratching the surface. God gives us opportunities every day to help other people. Of course the greatest way that we can help others is to tell them about Jesus. Many are searching for help and for hope. By God’s grace, you know where both can be found. May he help us to take advantage of those opportunities he places in front of us.
There is another group that we can help, and that is our children. It is possible that they may hear the bad news that comes from the television. They may hear us talking about how this is bad and that is bad. They may start to get a sense of uneasiness or to become afraid. Listen to the fears and concerns of the children. Though they may sound insignificant or childish to us, they are very real to them. We can help them by reassuring them that, even though it may not always seem to be so rosy, God is still in control and he loves us and will take care of us.
We show our Christianity as we unselfishly help others. We do not look at the ground and say, “Not me!” We help in whatever way we can. We do not do so for special recognition, but out of thankfulness for all that God has done for us. We live in humility and Christian charity is response to the love that God has shown to us. We do not just live in this world. We live as Christians in this world. We do so with a humble attitude and with unselfish actions. This is an attitude that has to be learned and practiced, but it is not beyond our reach. May the Lord help us to reflect the humility and love he showed to us by showing it to others. May he help us to let our lights shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. Amen.
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