2010 Luke’s Gospel
The Great Banquet
In The Kingdom of God
Key Verse: 14:23 "Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.’"
In last week’s passage, Jesus taught us a lesson about the kingdom of God. We learned that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed and yeast, which look small and insignificant, but have potential to grow into our ever-lasting hope and everyone’s final destination. We also learned that we must make every effort to enter the narrow door that is Jesus. Today’s passage continues to teach us more about the kingdom of God. Today, God invites us to come to the great banquet in his kingdom. He eagerly wants us to come and make his banquet full of his people. That is God’s desire for us, for his beloved children. Let us pray that we may hear God’s invitation and decide to follow the path to enter the kingdom of God. The message is broken into five parts.
First, Jesus completes the law by healing the sick on Sabbath. (1-6)
Let us read verse 1 together. “One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.” Jesus went to eat in the house of a Pharisee. We can assume that Jesus was invited by the Pharisee to join the party. It looks as if the Pharisees were hospitable towards Jesus when we see that Jesus was invited. However the Bible tells us that they were watching Jesus carefully, being alert for each moment to accuse Jesus in his word or action. Maybe this invitation was a trap to put Jesus into trouble. Whether he was the part of the trap or not, in front of Jesus, there was a man who had been suffering from dropsy. In the past Jesus was accused multiple times by the Pharisees and the teachers of the law for healing the sick on the Sabbaths. So, what did Jesus choose to do this time? Was he bothered or threatened? Look at verse 3. “Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” Here what Jesus did was not an attempt to get permission from them. It was actually a bold statement in a form of a question that it is right before God to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus answers to his own question by the very next action he took. Jesus healed the man with dropsy and sent him away. So, what does this make Jesus as? A law breaker? Here we realize that Jesus regarded acts of mercy and compassion on the Sabbath as acceptable and pleasing worship to God, in spite of what others thought or taught. Paul wrote in Romans 13:8, "he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law." Jesus’ love for the sinners does not violate the law, but fulfills and completes the law. Amen. Jesus did not stop there, but went ahead teaching the people the way of love and mercy. Jesus said in verse 5, "If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?" “And they had nothing to say.” In their stubborn pride and indifference, they had no mercy, compassion or love in their hearts. They only thought about what they would gain and lose and lived to satisfy their needs and wants. However Jesus was full of mercy, compassion and love. We must pray to be like Jesus who fulfills the law by the power of true love. Let us pray to have our hearts broken and softened to cover and embrace others. Let us pray that we could start loving our friends, neighbors, and family member because that is the true way to please our God. Amen.
Second, the humble will be exalted. (7-11)
After Jesus made his bold message of his love, he noticed that the guests at the dinner were choosing respected places around the table. To this, Jesus told them a parable from verses 8 to 10. “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.” Then verse 11 kindly sums up the meaning of the whole parable. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
We human beings are often hungry for honor and recognition from others. We do not hesitate to do get things done and even become willing to sacrifice ourselves if we can be recognized and noticed by the people we love. However Jesus is telling us to be humble! We must understand that the recognition and popularity from people are nothing but something to be faded the next day. What we really have to do is to seek God’s recognition by living our lives with humble and faithful attitude. Jesus did not just teach about humbling oneself. He himself becomes the greatest example of humbling oneself. Philippians 2:5-8 describes it: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!" Jesus' extreme humbleness was followed by the greatest exaltation: "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Php 2:9-11) Let us pray to be recognized by God.
Third, help others without expecting to be repaid. (12-14)
Let us read verses 12 and 13. “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.” Jesus also told them not to invite their friends, rich neighbors, but invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” Through this Jesus tells us that the true serving and helping should be done without expecting to be repaid. So many times when we do somebody a favor, right away we start thinking in our minds, ‘what is this person gonna do for me? He’d better repay me to make it even.’ When we give somebody a birthday present, we start expecting right away to be repaid on our birthdays. Jesus tells us to help and serve people without expecting any worldly benefit in return. But why? Why should we choose to do a losing business? Because God sees and God himself will repay. God knows our sacrifices and our tears. He is keeping a record of it and he will repay it. There are numerous people around us who need our help. Let us willingly and joyfully help one another with pure motive and desires. Let us pray that our acts of love and care may be credited in God. Dear heavenly father, purify our hearts from worldly benefit-seeking. Help us to seek your reward and repayment at the resurrection of the righteous. Amen.
Fourth, the great banquet in the Kingdom of God. (15-24)
From verse 15, finally Jesus tells the parable of the great banquet. At this time Jesus was still at the Pharisee's dinner party, making many people uncomfortable. However Jesus’ lesson did not end there. In fact, he now tells them the most important lesson about the heart and hope of God. The parable of the great banquet goes like this. "A certain man was preparing a huge banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' [Who buys a field without seeing it first? Bad excuse.] Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.' [That would be like buying a car without trying it out first. Another bad excuse.] Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.' [The honeymoon and house moving and thank you cards made him too busy.] The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' 'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.' (23àThen the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet” Let us read verses 23 and 24 once again.
Clearly, Jesus told this parable to express his urgent prayer and warning to his own people, even those at the dinner party. They were very much privileged, chosen guests to God's great banquet. They received the invitation through the prophets since long time ago. Now the time had come. Jesus came to give the final invite since everything was now ready. The kingdom of God had come in Jesus Christ. But how did they react to this? They made excuses one after another. How could they make excuses? For one thing, they were too engrossed and comfortable in their own worldly lives: their own properties, possessions, careers and marriages. Work, business, and family were more important to them. They were like the people of Noah's time who were focused on three things, which were eating, drinking and marrying. But eventually they all died in the flood. In our time, what excuses are you making? Some of us might say, “I have to see who wins the World Cup 2010”, “I have to study for my exams, I am busy” or “I’d definitely want to go, but I am in love with somebody. I will go if we break up.” Sometimes we Christians think, "I hope Jesus comes again, but not yet. I have many dreams that are not yet fulfilled. There are so many things I want to do before Jesus comes." This is very similar to those who made excuses not to accept the great banquet invitation. To them, there were more important things than the great banquet in the kingdom of God. But what can actually be more important than that? Nothing. They became proud and unthankful, thinking they didn't need to go to the banquet to be happy. They felt rather burdened by it.
But the banquet was not going to be canceled. Rather, other people will be invited to fill the seats. God will invite those who accept the invitation thankfully, like the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. They are needy people who met difficulties, sufferings and unfortunate circumstances in life, but they will accept the great banquet invitation with thankfulness. The invitation is given freely to them as well. God's banquet hall is very big and his house has many rooms. So the invitations went out beyond the borders, into the world. God really wants to have a full banquet hall in his kingdom with all kinds of thankful people, celebrating together. This is God's heart. This is God's hope. This is God's love. Have you accepted his invitation to his great banquet? Or are you still in dilemma, and can’t decide what to do? Let us choose to thankfully and joyfully accept the invitation, which we never deserved, but which God gave us anyway as a proof of his passionate love. In your life you probably were invited to many big and small events. But this invitation is something that you don’t want to miss. Let us pray sincerely that God may help us overcome our human desires and dreams, but use every effort fulfill the vision and the hope of God. Amen. The heavenly banquet starts here. Through worship and praise, and listening to the word of God together, we have the heavenly banquet right here. Let us invite ourselves in, and invite others in so that we can all taste the great banquet of the kingdom of God. Amen. We do have a major heavenly banquet to come very soon. That is the summer bible conference in mid-august. Let us pray and prepare for this great banquet to be held in God’s way so that many people might come and taste the heavenly banquet together.
Fifth, to be a disciple of Jesus…(25-35)
Now, he was not with the Pharisees at the party anymore. In the last 11 verses of today’s passage, Jesus tells us about the high cost to grow and live as his true disciples. There are two main costs. First, Jesus wants our first love. In verses 26 and 27, Jesus tells the people rather difficult words to follow. Let us read verses 26. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life- he cannot be my disciple.” Has Jesus gone mad? Is he trying to make every family broken and confused? No he is not. His first and most important teaching was “Love one another.” Although his words are harsh, we have to grasp the point of his words. Jesus means that we must have clear priority to love Jesus and follow his words first. Then we will be able to go on and love and care for others as good shepherds. In addition, Jesus tells us in verse 27 that we must carry our cross and follow Jesus. Here the cross is not the burden but our duty as the children of God. Our crosses may be praying sincerely, gathering daily bread faithfully, and share the gospel with our friends and family. If we decide to start carrying this cross, then without a doubt we will be able to grow as great men and women of God and useful servants for the great works of God. Let us pray to give our first heart to Jesus, carry our cross, and follow him. Amen.
Second, we have to give up everything in order to follow Jesus. Here the giving up does not include giving up studying or giving up loving others. Here Jesus means that we must give up our ambitions and pleasures in order to become his disciples. In verse 34-35, Jesus sums up with a comparison using the salt. Let us read the verse together, “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”” We must be the salty Christians by following Jesus faithfully. When we lose our heart and passion for Jesus, we become useless salt that is thrown out. Let us pray to remain salty, so that we can give a good flavor to the tasteless world.
In today’s passage we learned that Jesus wants us to be humble and thankful because he will exalt us and share his heavenly banquet with us. It will cost us our loves, hopes, and dreams, but it will be worth it all. May God help us to humbly and thankfully accept his invitation to his great banquet. May God also bless us to bring others to be banquet so that finally the banquet may be full. Amen.
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|63||Jesus Blesses A Thankful Man (Luke 17:11-19) by 2nd Gen M. Joseph Lee on 07/25/10||admin||2010.09.08||11117|
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