Relating to Others

Explore the Bible Series

December 5, 2004

 

Background Passage: Luke 14:1-35

Lesson: Passage: Luke 14:1, 7-15

 

Introduction: Our study of the Gospel of Luke comes to a new subsection in Chapter Fourteen (14:1-17:10). Recall that Luke organized much of his information around an extended account of Jesus’ awareness that his great redemptive work would reach its crescendo in Jerusalem.  For Luke, all of the Savior’s paths led to the cross and the empty tomb.  Of course, Bible students must understand that Luke did not provide a chronological or geographical account of these things; rather, he organized his material in ways that highlighted the redemptive work of Christ.  Jesus did come into the world as a mere teacher or miracle worker; he came to die for his people and resurrect from the dead for their justification.  All of the teachings and wondrous works of the Savior must be seen through the interpretive lens of the cross.

 

Luke called the attention of his reader to the Master’s rendezvous with the cross very early in this gospel.  Now, in Chapter Fourteen, the Beloved Physician points us the nature of Christian discipleship (a theme, of course, that has also characterized much of this Gospel).  Careful readers will discover that a cross awaits them too. Christ’s disciples will invariably find that they share a similar destiny to their Master.  Their lives are bound together with his (See Luke 14:25-35).  Most of the next three chapters will focus on material that is unique to Luke’s account of Jesus’ life.

 

I.                   Healing on the Sabbath (Luke 14:1-6)

A.     Jesus at the home of a Pharisee (14:1-2): The Jews typically took two daily meals, but on the Sabbath they enjoyed an additional repast with friends and loved ones.  This meal followed the synagogue worship and lasted for much of the afternoon. The Pharisees had previously demonstrated their contempt for Jesus; nevertheless, he accepted this invitation to eat in the home of one of these opponents.  The text certainly indicates that the religious leaders had sinister motives for extending their invitation (v1b). Perhaps they intentionally set a trap for Jesus by inviting a sick man to join them at the feast.  What would Jesus do, on the Sabbath Day, with this poor, suffering man?

B.     Jesus silenced the Pharisees and healed the sick man (14:3-6): The Lord took the offensive in this pending conflict by raising two pointed questions.  “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” “Which of you, having a  donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath Day?”  These questions silenced the Pharisees.

Note: Jesus did not challenge the proper observance of the Sabbath; rather, he confronted the pharisaical practices of the day.  Clearly, Christ had great concern for what was lawful (v.3).  He only corrected the misuse of the law.

 

II.                The Parable of the Wedding Feast (14:7-14)

A.     Jesus’ address to the guests (14:7-11): Sometime after Jesus healed the man with dropsy, the guests began to clamor for prominent positions around the table.  Ancient Middle Eastern people had distinct ideas about the “pecking order” at mealtime, and these folks desired the best places.  Jesus told them of a man who gave a wedding feast and invited many guests.  The visitors vied for positions of esteem in much the same way these people did at the Pharisee’s home.  The Lord taught his hearers to exercise humility.  They should not seek the places of prominence. Instead, they should wait until the Master of the household exalts them to a place of honor.  This brief parable, of course, has eschatological importance.  Believers must remain faithful and humble until the Master exalts them to places of blessedness and honor, in due time.

B.     Jesus’ address to the hosts of the banquet (14:12-14):  Humility should mark the lives of the hosts as well as the guests. Those who invite guests to a meal should bid the poor and helpless to join them in the celebration.  They should give no thought to the social advantage that may come from inviting only distinguished guests. Bid the undesirable, the poor, the helpless, to come to the feast.  There is much here for disciples to learn.

 

III.             The Parable of the Great Feast (14:15-24): This parable teaches:

A.     God has made great provision for the salvation of sinners (14:15-17): Christ came to earth as the “Bread of Life”, and the Father bids many to come to feast upon his Son.  The banquet is sumptuous and sufficient for all who will come.  No one who comes will be turned away, and all who enter in will find joy and satisfaction in the Savior.  The Father has made all things ready and graciously sends his servant to call for the guests to come.

1.      The Master bids the servant to go.

2.      The Master did not hold the servant accountable for the response of the would-be guests.

3.      The Master requires that the servant go quickly and urgently (See v. 21).

B.     Many refused the Master’s gracious provision and invitation (14:18-20):

1.      Some refused because of their possessions (See v. 18).

2.      Some refused because of their responsibilities (See v. 19).

3.      Some refused because of their relationships (See v. 20)

                        Note: The failure here did not center on any deficiency in the meal, the

                        invitation, or the labor of the faithful servant.  The failure lay in the

                        distracted hearts of those bidden to the feast.

                  C. The servant’s encouragement (14:21-24):

1.      The Master will not be denied guests for his banquet (See v. 21). 

2.      The poor and helpless are bid to come freely (See v. 21b).

3.      Still, there is room for more to come (See v. 22).

4.      The Master insists that his house be full (See v. 23).

5.      The Master’s wrath will rest heavy upon those who refused his gracious invitation (See 24).

 

IV.              The Cost of Discipleship (Luke 14:25-35)

A.     True discipleship requires unrivaled allegiance to Christ (14:25-26): This text, of course, does not demand that disciples hate their families; rather, the Savior called upon his disciples to foster no rivals to their love for Christ. 

B.     True discipleship involves a willingness to die for Christ (14:27): Those who understand the “cross” to refer to life’s hardship and inconveniences miss the point.  The Master called his disciples to self-denial and anticipation of the possibility of a heinous death for the cause of the Kingdom of God.

C.     Two analogies of discipleship (14:28-35)

1.      a builder who counts the cost of constructing a tower (vv.28-30)

2.      a king who counts the cost of going to war (vv. 31-33)

3.      salt that has lost its savor (vv. 34-35)

 

Conclusion: This is a powerful chapter. American Christians, in particular, need to consider the words of the Lord concerning the nature of discipleship.  Following Christ reshapes every aspect of the believer’s life: his character, priorities, relationships, and service. So much of what passes for discipleship in our culture will not, it seems, stand the test of Scripture.  Easy-believism, greed, self-indulgence; these find no place in the true Christian’s life as a follower of Jesus.

 

Questions for Meditation and Discussion:

  1. What attitudes should Christians have toward the “undesirables” in our society: the infirmed, the poor, the disenfranchised, and the disinherited?
  2. What does this passage teach us about the appropriate use of the Lord’s Day?
  3. What insight do we gain concerning evangelism from the Parable of the Great Supper?
  4. How does the passage that concludes this chapter (vv. 25-35) challenge and reshape your understanding of the Christian life?