Sunday, October 14, 2012

Luke 14:1-24 - The Great Banquet

Great Banquet Hall at Biltmore
Jesus enjoyed teaching around meals. His first miracle was at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-11). It was on a hillside that he took a boy’s loaves and fishes and fed five thousand (Luke 9:10-17). It was in Martha’s kitchen where he pointed her to the most important thing – a relationship with Him (Luke 10:38-42). Later during a meal he taught a lesson on costly worship when Mary anointed his feet with perfume (Luke 7: 36-50; John 12:2-8). 

Then there was the most famous meal, the Lord’s Supper (John 13-17). They would eat together one more time on the Sea of Galilee after the Resurrection when he encouraged Simon Peter (John 21). 

In the future, we will all celebrate another meal – the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:7-9), when as Christ’s perfect Bride dressed in the cleanliness of His righteousness we will celebrate that Great Banquet. Today’s passage points us to that meal through the banquet given at a Pharisee’s house.

Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 14:1-24 to teach believers that Jesus invites them to a coming a Banquet of healing, of honor, and of harvest.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about Jesus’ invitation.
Key Verse: Luke 14:23
Pray and Read:  Luke 14:1-24

Contextual Notes:
Since the beginning of his Gospel, Luke has focused on the importance of walking in faith and not in unbelief. After the major shift in the Gospel at Luke 9:51, Jesus leaves his ministry in Galilee and turns with determination toward Jerusalem and His coming Suffering, Death, and Resurrection. Luke’s message of trusting Christ sharpens, and his warning against unbelief hones in on the very religious yet unbelieving Jewish leadership. 
We see Jesus’ rising determination in his call to realign our priorities to those of our resolute Lord: the priority of His Gospel to the nations (Luke 10:1-24); the priority of our love for our neighbors (Luke 10:25-37); the priority of His Presence (Luke 10:38-42) lived by the priority of prayer (Luke 11:1-13); the priority of Jesus’ authority (Luke 11:14-28) which calls us to the priority of repentance (Luke 11:29-36).
Luke 10:1-24              The Priority of His Gospel (for the nations)
Luke 10:25-37            The Priority of Your Love (for your neighbor)
Luke 10:38-42            The Priority of His Presence
Luke 11:1-13              The Priority of Your Prayer
Luke 11:14-28            The Priority of His Authority
Luke 11:29-36            The Priority of Your Repentance

Then Luke’s Gospel points toward First, Jesus condemns the wrong kind of religion – dead religion that is devoid of relationship with Him (Luke 11:37-54). Then he warns his disciples of hypocrisy and points away from the fear of man to the right kind of fear, the fear of God (Luke 12:1-12). Jesus next warns against materialism but instead to focus on being rich toward God (Luke 12:13-21), then warns against worry and encourages his disciples to trust the Lord for provision (Luke 12:22-34). The right kind of focus follows (Luke 12:35-59), then Luke’s outline calls us to the right kind of religion, one of repentance and grace (Luke 13:1-19).
Luke 11:37-54            The Wrong Kind of Religion (not ritual, but relationship)
Luke 12:1-12              The Right Kind of Fear (not of men, but of God)
Luke 12:13-21            The Wrong Kind of Focus (not greed, but God)
Luke 12:22-34            The Wrong Kind of Fear (not worry, but trust)
Luke 12:35-59            The Right Kind of Focus (on eternity, not this world)
Luke 13:1-9                The Right Kind of Religion (not pride, but repentance)
With a series of illustrations, Jesus reminds us that the world is rushing toward Christ’s Second Coming. To be ready, believers must serve God actively (Luke 12:35-53) and unbelievers must make peace with God before it is too late (Luke 12:54-59) with the right kind of religion, one of repentance (Luke 13:1-9).

Jesus encourages us to embrace the Kingdom of Grace (Luke 13:10-17) which begins humbly and grows rapidly to embrace the nations (Luke 13:18-21). It is a Kingdom of Repentance with a strict deadline (Luke 13:22-30), its rejection having dire consequences (Luke 13:31-35). It is a Kingdom of Provision of healing (Luke 14:1-6), honor (Luke 14:7-14), and harvest (Luke 14:15-24).

Sermon Points:
1.   Jesus invites you to a Banquet of healing (Luke 14:1-6)
2.   Jesus invites you to a Banquet of honor (Luke 14:7-14)
3.   Jesus invites you to a Banquet of harvest (Luke 14:15-24)

Exposition:   Note well,

a.   Jesus’ teaching is set in the context of a meal at the home of a prominent Pharisee (as in Luke 7:36; 11:37). It was a banquet ostensibly to honor the Lord, but really to continue to measure everything he said and did. Eating bread together was supposed to be an occasion for intimate fellowship. The treachery of the Pharisees would be repulsive to ancient hearers. The original phrase here means that they were “insidiously watching on the sly, with evil intent.” As bait, they placed a man with dropsy in front of him, apparently on a Sabbath day. Dropsy (Greek: hydropikos), medically known as edema, an excessive accumulation of serous fluid in tissue spaces or body cavities, causing excessive swelling. It is a symptom pointing to a more serious condition possibly with the kidney, liver, blood, or heart.
b.   This is the last of the five Sabbath miracles in Luke.[1] It didn’t take a brainiac to figure out what they were up to. Jesus therefore asks, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” No one will answer, for they knew the Law permitted works of mercy on Sabbath. Under rules of debate, by being silenced and unable to reply, they would be presumed wrong or at best too ignorant of the law to defend their position. The Pharisees can’t answer because it would reveal their swollen hypocrisy which has puffed them up more than a man with edema. Jesus cures the man.
c.   APPLICATION: Jesus doesn’t heal just symptoms, He heals causes. He heals root issues.
d.   Jesus heals the man apparently while the guests were assembling. Jesus reminds them that they would rescue an animal trapped on Sabbath without breaking it (Deut 5:14). Not only that, while no cooking was done on Sabbath, it is remarkably double-standarded to serve a banquet on Sabbath without some labor. It proves that there was little real seriousness about keeping Sabbath, how fast and loose they could play with their own convictions, how taking care of self was always more important than really striving toward any real spiritual relationship with the Lord.
e.   APPLICATION: Legalism blinds us and makes us short-sighted. It blinds us to anyone who doesn’t follow our lists of acceptable behavior. It makes us short-sighted to the needs of our world.
a.   The host relieves the awkward tension of the healing by inviting everyone to the table. The table is U-shaped, and places of honor at banquets were those closest to the host. At the bottom-center of the U is the seat of highest honor, descending in importance from there left and right. Jesus watches them jockey for position for the best seats. He watches the haughty glow of those who scored a great seat next to Rabbi So-and-So and the sulking eyes of those who missed out and had to sit next to the kitchen. Having given a lesson on Sabbath, Jesus proceeds to give one on humility, and He has a lot to point out at this feast where the Pharisees spent so much energy promoting themselves, vying for the positions of honor at the table.
b.   Luke 14:8 – Jesus is here commenting on Proverbs 25:6-7: “Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men; it is better for him to say to you, ‘Come up here,’ than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman.”
c.   Luke 14:9 – One’s honor determined whom one could marry, with whom one could do business, what functions one could attend, and where one could live. The public shame of being moved from the first seat to the least would be a humiliation almost worse than death.
d.   Luke 14:11 – Exalting yourself: Echoing the words of Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:52),[2] Jesus’ spiritual principle is clear. Don’t push for glory. Let the Lord honor you (Ezek 21:26). Only those who the Messiah honors with a place in his kingdom are truly honored. Those who honor themselves are worthy of no honor.
e.   Luke 14:12-14 – Jesus applies the principle in a fascinating way. If his host really cares about honor from God, he should invite the poor and powerless, who can never repay him in this life (Prov. 19:17). Jesus uses the word for a formal dinner party or reception, a striking word for social outcasts.[3] Eating with someone of lower social status could jeopardize one’s own social standing. But Jesus says God is concerned for the poor. He will exalt the person who cares for the helpless, rather than the powerful who can repay you for your kindness.
f.    APPLICATION: Pride backfires and makes us selfish. We start playing the childish game of who’s better than whom. We always end up losing. We naturally tend to seek recognition and esteem from others, but Jesus says that those who seek self-glorification will ultimately find themselves humbled, while those who put others first will be exalted. The highest calling of a Christian is to look out for others first, encouraging them to be all that God would have them to be.
a.   One of the guests seemed to get Jesus’ point that He was pointing to the future millennial kingdom.[4] The guest responds in Luke 14:15 by alluding to Isaiah 25:6; cf. Luke 13:29). The Pharisee assumes that all of Israel would be included in that future kingdom. But Jesus uses a parable to warn them that participation in the kingdom would not be determined by physical lineage from Abraham, but rather by spiritual lineage from Abraham who believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (similar to Luke 13:28-30).
b.   Luke 14:17 - In the Middle Eastern context, an invitation goes out and an RSVP is sent. Then a second invitation comes when the meal is prepared (Esther 6:14). To refuse to come once the invitation has been accepted is not only rude and insulting. It places a financial burden on the host.
c.   Luke 14:18 - One is concerned with material things (Luke 14:18). He just bought a field. This is a bold lie since no one, especially in that culture, buys land without knowing every square inch of it already. What an insult. The field was more important than their relationship.
d.   Luke 14:19 - One is more concerned with his business (Luke 14:19). Again, this excuse is probably a lie, for who buys ten oxen without seeing them first? Insulting and rude. Property comes over friendship.
e.   Luke 14:20 - One is more involved with family concerns (Luke 14:20). It would be crude and unbecoming to use his new marriage as an excuse. Unlike the other two, this man does not even ask to be excused, but rudely announces that he is not coming. They were not ready to make the sacrifices involved. Their rejection of the invitation revealed their lack of respect for the host.
f.    So the master sent his servants to those who considered themselves unworthy of an invitation, even to the roads and country lanes (Luke 14:23), the extension to the nations. Even though excluded, they were welcomed (Eph 2:12). This is the Messianic promise of Isaiah 61:1-3, read in the Nazareth synagogue at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
g.   APPLICATION: Compassion always blesses us and makes us sensitive. It helps us overlook the color of people’s skin or the size of a person’s wallet. Compassion helps us to see others through Jesus’ eyes.
h.   Luke 14:23 – Compel them: The Greek word translated “make them” (anankazo) involves compulsion, but not necessarily external physical force. This compulsion (and the most powerful of all) comes from an internal motivation as a positive response to a morally powerful command or invitation. The invitation so lightly dismissed by Israel will prove compelling when extended to the Gentiles – the outcasts of Jesus’ illustration.
Salvation calls us to a great choice. With Christ there is no middle ground. He makes us choose between the things of this world and the blessings of God’s kingdom. Jesus invites us to a Great Banquet. It is being prepared now. Will you be ready when the trumpet sounds?

[1] (Luke 4:31, 38; 6:6; 13:14; 14:1; John adds two more: John 5:10; 9:14).

[2] And it will be repeated again at Luke 18:14.

[3] The different terms used for meals are ariston (a late morning meal), deipnon (a late afternoon meal). Doche (banquet) is a more formal dinner party or reception, a striking word to use for social outcasts.
[4] Though similar, a distinct parable from Matt 22:1-10. See F.F. Bruce, 1212.