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Sunday, August 22, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus at the Party"

“Jesus At the Party”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
August 22, 2010
Luke 14:1-24

A couple of weeks ago, we saw that the Lord Jesus loved to talk about the Kingdom of God.  The reign and rule of God in His people.  A kingdom that is already here but not yet here in its fullness.  A kingdom that starts out small but grows hugemongous!  A kingdom with a narrow and closing door.  A kingdom that is broad and joyful.

The kingdom of God was one of Jesus’ favorite things to talk about.

We learned then that this kingdom is so full of joy that one of Jesus’ favorite analogies for the kingdom is a what?  A feast.  A banquet.  A party!

And we said then that chapters 14 and 15 are going to largely be about the joy of that kingdom, about those feasts.  The Kingdom as a joyful feast – a party.

Well, that starts today.  And it starts, appropriately enough, with Jesus Himself at a dinner party.

Think about the last party that you attended.

What it was like?

What are parties like?

What are the regular features of a party?

Well, people for one.

And normally, food, right?

And the whole idea is fun and enjoyment in being together.

Now, imagine Jesus at this party. 

Would that party have changed at all if Jesus (before His Cross and Resurrection) had been at that party with you?

Everything changes when Jesus comes to your party.

In today’s passage, Jesus came to a party hosted by a prominent Pharisee.

Oh boy, how fun, eh?

We’ve learned that things are tense whenever the Pharisees are involved.

In fact, it looks like Jesus has been invited to this party to keep an eye on Him.  And maybe even catch Him in a trap.

This party was being held on the Sabbath.

And we’ve run into the Sabbath before in the Gospel of Luke.  That was a day of rest. I think that a party was appropriate on the Sabbath.

But the Pharisees had lots of rules of what you could and couldn’t do on the Sabbath, and they were watching Jesus like a flock of hawks to see if He would break the rules.  V.1

“One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.”

What will Jesus do and say at this party? 

Well, there is someone at the party who is suffering.  Maybe he was planted there by the Pharisees.  We don’t know.  But he was suffering.  V.2

“There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy.”

Dropsy, also called edema is a medical condition of swelling. Swilling of the limbs and an excess of bodily fluid. It’s no fun.

And Jesus’ compassion starts right up.  What will He do?

What do you think?

He’s going to heal the man.  Even if it means getting into trouble with the Pharisees.  As we’ve seen, they didn’t think that healing should be done on the Sabbath.

But Jesus is not ashamed or afraid of them.  In fact, He gets right into their faces.  V.3

“Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?’  But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.  Then he asked them, ‘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.”

Jesus is saying, “C’mon!  Where is your compassion?  Do you care more about an animal than you do a suffering man?”

And they don’t have any way to answer Him.

Things can be awkward at a party when Jesus is there.

Jesus sees this lack of compassion, and He also sees some ugly pride.

He’s watching people at the party, and they are picking out for themselves the best seats.  The seats of honor, the ones closest to the host.

And He can tell from their choices that they are full of pride.  V.7

“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.’”

This is our first point of application from Jesus at the Party.

#1.  TAKE THE LOWEST PLACE.

This is a call to humility.

Jesus isn’t just teaching about social etiquette.  He’s teaching about the Kingdom.

But He starts with social etiquette.  Very practical.

When you are a guest at a party, don’t pick the best seat out for yourself.

Take the lowest place.

That way, your host can elevate you.

And you won’t be embarrassed if he has to de-elevate you!

This isn’t new.  Proverbs chapter 25 says the same thing:

“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”  (Prov 25:5-6).

Take the lowest place.

But Jesus isn’t just talking avoiding embarrassment or about social etiquette.

He’s talking about humility.

Humble yourself.

God requires it.  Humility is the way of the Kingdom!  V.11
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Does that sound familiar?  Peter and James picked it up for their books.

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

The only way up in the Kingdom of God is by going down.

Take the lowest place.  Be humble.

Now, almost everyone agrees with that!

But that’s not what most people really believe.

It’s not what the world tells you, and it’s not what the world practices.

The world says that it is a dog-eat-dog world.

It’s a self-promotion world.

It’s get ahead of the rest of the rat pack world.

This doesn’t mean to be a door mat or to be down on yourself all of the time.

But it does mean to intentionally take the lowest place.

To put others ahead of yourself.

To get a sober view of yourself and to serve other people.

Have you ever been to a party where people are doing that?

When everyone is looking out for each other?  When everyone is serving one another.

Did you see the dessert?  Can I get you a piece?

Where do these chairs go?

Here you sit here.  I’m going to sit over there at the floor.

It’s awesome when you have humble people at a party.

And the same is true in all of life.

God gives grace to the humble!

But He opposes the proud.

I feel sorry for these Pharisees whose lives were just focused on themselves.  “I’m the center of attention here!  Pay attention to me!  I’ll sit here, thank you very much.”

God apposes the proud.  He who exalts Himself will be humbled.

What can you be doing right now in your life to take the lowest place?

Dads need to do this with their families.
Kids do, too.

It’s putting other people.  It’s thinking about someone other than yourself.

And it’s so hard for most of us to do.


Take the lowest place.

#2.  INVITE THE OUTCASTS.  V.12

“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.’”


If verses 7 through 11 were about what to do and not do as a guest at a party, then verses 12 through 14 are about what to do and not do as a host.

Jesus says that hosts should not invite “friends, brothers, relatives, or rich neighbors.”

Now, that doesn’t mean to never have a party with those people there.

Jesus had parties with all of those sorts of people.

But Jesus is saying that those kinds of parties don’t get you anywhere with the Lord.

Those kinds of party-guests can pay you back in kind.  Quid pro quo.  I scratch your back, you scratch mine.

A self-ish motive can prompt you to throw that kind of a party.

But Jesus says to invite “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” [Now, remember that phrase: “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.”]

In a word: the outcasts.

The folks who can’t pay you back.

Jesus is calling us to be generous and compassionate.

Find the people who can’t pay you back, and that’s who you need to show love to!

Anyone can throw a party for their friends.

You be different.  Throw a party for the needy.

This week, I was introduced to a program called Second Harvest Mobile Food Bank.  It’s a truck of groceries that shows up once a month in a community and folks who are having trouble making ends meet can show up and take home a grocery cart full of food. 

Neat idea!  Maybe we can get involved in it in some way.

Jesus is calling us to be generous and compassionate for the needy, the outcasts.

The folks who can’t pay you back.

Last Monday, I saw our church do that.

We had a group from Young Life, which is a youth ministry, drive in late on a Monday night (actually by the time they got here it was early on a Tuesday morning—5am!) and spend the rest of the night here at church.

And our fabulous Hospitality Team fed them all breakfast on Tuesday morning.

And they took showers in the Ladies’ Room here. [For the guys who don’t know it, there is a shower in the Ladies’ Room at Lanse Free Church.  I don’t know why we don’t get a shower in the Men’s Room.  I would have thought we’d be stinkier!  But who knows?]

I was so proud of our church for sponsoring this group of kids from Chicago.

There were two van-loads of young people.  And I know for a fact that a number of them had never been out of the city before.

I think it was a little spooky for them to be here in the country with us.

And our folks just showed them LOVE.  And fed them and sent them on their way with prayer.

And we didn’t expect them to pay for it.  Or to re-pay us some day in kind.

But we do expect to be blessed.  Just not right now.  V.14

“....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.’”

You will be blessed if you are compassionate now.

God rewards those who are generous with what they have NOW.

And He rewards them THEN.

This is the exact opposite of the Pharisees, isn’t it?

They weren’t compassionate to this man with dropsy in their own home!

There will be no reward for stinginess.

Back in February when you were raising some money to send to Haiti to bring relief after the earthquake, I was playing basketball with some guys.

And they were talking about the whole thing.  And one of them said, “It doesn’t do any good to send money there.  They will just waste it.  I say that we don’t bother.”

Now, he’s right that just sending money without discretion doesn’t really help.

But he had no compassion for the plight of those men, women, and especially children who were suffering.

“The poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.”

Invite the outcasts!

And that, I think, is literal, too.  We should be doing that as Christ-followers.

We should be inviting those sorts of needy people to our tables.

I’m sure that the details will change from person to person and situation, but the call on our lives does not change.

Invite the outcasts.

Heather and I have a child, a young lady now, that we sponsor through Compassion International in Haiti.   We’ve been doing it ever since we lost our firstborn through stillbirth in 1999.  Her name is Christine.

I’m so glad to send that check every month.  It’s like she’s sitting at our table, and we’re eating with her.

Do I expect Christine to repay me?  No.  Never.

But I look forward to the reward that comes at the resurrection.

In the Kingdom of God.

Now, one of the people at this party that Jesus is at has figured out that Jesus is talking about the Kingdom of God.

So, He thinks that Jesus will like this.  V.15

“When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, ‘Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.’”

How do you think Jesus will respond to that?

I might expect Him to say, “Amen!”

Because it is certainly true.

But I think that Jesus knew that this man had a faulty assumption operating.

This man was probably assuming that he was going to eat at that feast without humility and compassion and without coming to Christ.

They probably all thought that.  They probably all assumed that they were going to the Party in Heaven–the Kingdom of God!

So, Jesus responds with this parable.  V.16

“Jesus replied: ‘A certain man was preparing a great 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.'  ‘Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.'  ‘Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.'   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.'  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.  I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'”

#3.  MAKE NO EXCUSES.

Come to Christ.

Jesus realizes that He has a teachable moment on His hands.  So, He ratches up this conversation to another notch.

He tells a story of a man who wanted to have a great banquet.

A hugemongous party!

And He sends out invitations.  That’s normal, right?

And He gets back RSVP’s.  People have said they are coming.

But on the day of the party, he sends his servants to tell them, “It’s party-time!”

And the guests make lame excuses.

I have bought a field, and I must go see it.  Huh?  If you bought it already, why do you need to go now?

I have just bought 10 oxen.  I just bought a new truck.  I need to try it out.

Can’t that wait?

I just got married.

Well, bring her along!  Didn’t you know about the party?  Didn’t you already say that you’d come.  Was this marriage a surprise?

These are lame excuses.

And all excuses that keep us from coming to Christ are lame excuses!

These guys didn’t want to come.

Sin is irrational.  It doesn’t make sense.

Have you ever fell into a sin, and say, “Why did I do that?  It doesn’t make sense.”

Well, that’s because sin doesn’t make sense.  Sin is fundamentally irrational!

Why would we go against God?  Why would we do what doesn’t make sense?

Why would we NOT want to join His kingdom?

Every excuse is lame.

Clearly, these folks had something that they wanted more than they wanted the party with this man.

And that’s the case today where people are making excuses and not coming to Christ.

Something has caught their attention and has become a false kingdom for them.

Are you making excuses?

What’s your excuse for not coming to Christ?

For not feasting with Him every day?

In this story, those men stand for the Pharisees.  They thought they were IN, but they were actually OUT.  They assumed a place at the table at the Party of God.

But they were rejecting Jesus, and He is the way in.

So, this man goes after some more guests.  It’s very surprising in the story.

Who ever heard of getting guests for your party this way?

Drive downtown and see who you can bring in.

And did you notice who He sends them to get?  V.21

“The poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.”

Sound familiar?

The outcasts.  The Gentiles.  The ones that weren’t invited at first, in the same way.

Go get them!

And after you’ve some (v.22), there is still room.  Go get some more!  V.23

“Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in [persuade them!], 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.'”

They will miss out.  But my house will be full!

Make no excuses.

And go tell people about Jesus. And bring them in.

Bring in them outcasts.

Where are you in this story?

We’ve been learning in our Sunday School class to ask that question when we present the gospel.

Where do you see yourself in this story?

I want to see myself as a humble person like in verses 7-11, giving up my chair for someone else.

I also want to see myself as a compassionate person, like in verses 12-14, inviting in the outcasts and being generous.

But before I can be those things, I have to see myself as in verses 21, the outcast myself.

“The poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.”

That’s me.

I wasn’t invited to the great banquet the first time. I’m not Jewish.  I’m not part of the original Israel!

But here I am, in the kingdom, and anticipating the joy of the feast of the kingdom of God!

I was brought in late.

And I’m so glad to be here.

Where do you see yourself in this story?

Are you humble?  Do you take the lowest place?
Are you compassionate?  Do you invite the outcast?

Are you making excuses?

Or are you one who has been brought in so that His house will be full?

Jesus Christ died on the Cross to bring many to His banqueting table.

You are invited to come and feast with Him.

It requires repentance and trust.  Turning from sin and trusting in the Savior.

It doesn’t matter where you’ve been.  God’s people come in from the strangest places!  “The roads and country lanes!”

It doesn’t matter where you’ve been.  What matters is where you are going.

Don’t miss out.  Stop making excuses and come on in to Christ!

Be with Jesus at the Party.

Friends, we’ve got to stop making excuses and start inviting more people to this party.

He is still telling us today at Lanse Free Church, “There is still room.  Go out and make them come in so that my house will be full.”

Yesterday, our family got a pool table for our basement.

And I had hired a couple of guys from Altoona to help me get it down there.  A couple of guys who are experts at that sort of thing.

And the night before, I had prayed for a chance to share the gospel with them.

And one of them seemed very interested in spiritual things.

Can I ask you to pray for him?

He doesn’t live very far from where Mark Petras and our Altoona Church plant is meeting in Hollidaysburg.  In fact, he said that he might go there this morning to church!

I admit to being almost chicken to talking with him about the gospel.  I kept looking for a chance but not taking it.  But I knew that I was just making excuses and I need to take the plunge and really share something with him.

And I got the opportunity to tell him right before He left that it doesn’t matter where you go to church, what matters is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

And He seemed interested in knowing more.

I would LOVE to get to the Jesus’ table at the Kingdom of God, the party of parties forever and sit down next to this man and eat with him.

“My house will be full.”

We need to stop making excuses and invite people to come to the party with Jesus.

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom

Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising KingdomJesus and Jerusalem

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