Sermon: The Real Party: Luke 14:1-24

luke 14- 1-24

The Real Party

Luke 14:1-24

Jesus is invited to a dinner party of a prominent Pharisee.  Like most of the things the religious leaders invite Jesus to, they had an agenda.  Most of the time their agenda was to catch Jesus in some heretical teaching, saying or action.  Today’s passage is no different.

What I’d like for you to see in this text today are three things:

First, those who manifest the true condition of their hearts in hypocrisy.  Second, those who manifest the true condition of their hearts as they practice humility.

Third, Who is invited to the real party?

The great reversal…

Lk 14:1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully.

Lk 14:2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy.

Lk 14:3 And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?”

Lk 14:4 But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away.

Lk 14:5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?”

Lk 14:6 And they could not reply to these things.

Lk 14:7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them,

Lk 14:8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,

Lk 14:9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.

Lk 14:10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.

Lk 14:11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Lk 14:12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.

Lk 14:13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,

Lk 14:14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Lk 14:15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

Lk 14:16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.

Lk 14:17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

Lk 14:18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’

Lk 14:19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’

Lk 14:20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’

Lk 14:21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’

Lk 14:22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’

Lk 14:23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.

Lk 14:24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'”

1. The Heart of Hypocrisy

            A. Self-Exaltation in the Name of Religion

Lk 14:1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully.

Lk 14:2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy.

My first inclination is to tell Jesus to run because this is clearly a set up.  Jesus, get out of there they are trying to trap You, run!

Jesus isn’t worried about what man can do to Him.  He sees an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel so He takes it.  Even after declaring the judgment upon Jerusalem, He agrees to attend this dinner party.

Here’s how we know they were trying to trap Him…

First, this dinner just happened to be on the Sabbath.  They had seen Jesus in action before on the Sabbath and they knew what He would do.  Second, in just so happened that this dinner was at the house of a prominent Pharisee.  One who no doubt had influence to catch Jesus breaking their laws and to take Him to the authorities.  Third, it just so happened that they were all watching Him carefully.  Why were they watching?  It wasn’t out of love or amazement they were watching Him, they wanted to catch Him.  Forth, there just happened to be a man there with dropsy.

The sickness in the ancient word known as dropsy was a condition in which a person’s organs were beginning to shut down.  They would retain fluid and be extremely swollen.  Most often, this condition quickly would result in death.  So, we see a man with a very serious condition be used by the religious leaders.

B. Self-Exaltation In the Name of the Regulations

Lk 14:3 And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?”

Lk 14:5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?”

Jesus’ desire is to cut to the chase.  Here were Pharisees and Lawyers so steeped in man-made rules and regulations that they were unable to answer a simple yes or no question.

This reminds me of politicians today.  You ask them a simple question and they can talk for 20 minutes about everything else and never answer the question.  Why?  They are hypocrites.

If a Pharisee answered yes it’s right to heal on a Sabbath, his friends would accuse him of watering down their manmade traditions.  If he answered no, it’s not all right then the people would say, what kind of heartless religion are you running here?  So, they did all they could do and they remained quiet.  If a politician actually answers a question one way he ostracizes one group and looses votes.  If he answers another way he shuns another group of voters.  He chooses to simply speak many words and never say anything in order to not take a side and loose support from the other side.  Hypocrites act in this way, whether they are the Pharisees of the Bible or politicians today.

Their hearts were dead to God.  There was a human being suffering greatly and they used him as bait to catch Jesus.  The only reason this man was invited was to be used by these religious people.  They did not care at all about this man.

I hope you are getting a picture of hypocrisy.  Hypocrites are self-seeking liars who fear man and not God.  They live for worldly importance and have no heart for God.

They only invited the man with dropsy to use him and only invited Jesus to trap Him.  Literally, they were stalking Jesus, trying every way they could think of to trap Him and shut Him up and because they were so steeped in hypocrisy, they would go so far as to even kill Jesus.

I don’t think we could over emphasize the fact that the Pharisees and the Lawyers were the social elite… of a ruler of the Pharisees.  These were the upper class citizens, or so they thought.  Jesus is getting ready to do His social switching.  Luke so often portrays for us this great reversal.

These social elites according to man’s estimation will not even be included in the Kingdom of God.  They are lost.

We must be careful in this world because status and fame have a very big pull on our hearts.  Keeping up with the Jones is a damning practice.  We want people to like us and we want them to look up to us.  Very often this quest for status causes us to choose the things of the world and not the things of God…Jesus explains.

C.  The Shame of Hypocrisy

Lk 14:7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them,

Lk 14:8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,

Lk 14:9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.

Jesus could tell the condition of their hearts by watching them at this party.

These religious leaders looked very religious on the outside but their actions pointed to self-centeredness.  Rather than caring for others, they were just looking out for themselves.  The whole party was nothing more than a rally to increase one’s social standing.

The picture is this, the host is very high up on the social ladder and when he throws open the door, everyone runs to get the best seat, either, the seat closest to the host or a seat in front so they will be noticed.  The poor man with dropsy wasn’t even a blip on their radar screen…that is until they wanted to use him to trap Jesus.

The point here is that these religious people race to get the best seat now, but their little-made-up world of importance and prestige is a house of cards that will end very soon.

These words by our Lord show a much deeper truth than these folks simply taking a lesser seat at a party.  They will be denied entrance to the real party…the great banquet feast Jesus will host someday.  The reason is that they would rather be seen here and now at this party than be present at the real dinner party thrown in heaven.

2.  The Heart of Humility (14:10-14)

Lk 14:10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.

In Luke’s great reversal we see that those who exhibit true humility do so from a changed heart.  These are the ones who purposefully humble themselves here and now and are not pressing their advantage for worldly status.  These folks are very satisfied with their social status given to them by our sovereign Lord here and now because they realize that humility now leads to eternal exaltation in the Kingdom of God later.

The humble look to the future through eyes of faith and realize there is a much better party that will be thrown in heaven.  They are the ones who realize that this great banquet feast will be the party to surpass all parties.  Their concern is not to get the best seat now but to care for others and show them the best seat while they themselves seek a lesser seat.

A. The Exaltation of Humility (14:11)

Lk 14:11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

To strive for acceptance and power will always eventually lead to shame.  Jesus very clearly tells us that everyone seeking to exalt himself will be made low.   God is not impressed with social status.  You could tell him that you were mayor of your town and He would say, So, what.  You could say looked up to you in your life on earth…who cares?  God is in no way impressed with earthly fame.  The President of the United States, the Queen of England, and the laborer in the field are all on the same level when judgment day comes.  We must seek to be rich toward God.

B. Hypocrisy Has Its Reward

Lk 14:12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.

The point Jesus makes, is for the lost prideful hypocrite who has amassed for himself worldly status, he had better enjoy it because that is as good as it gets for him or her.  If you live for this world and its status, live it up now.  Enjoy your life and everything you can acquire because when this life is over, so is your reward.

When hypocrites throw parties their guest list is made up of people who can help them get what they want out of this life.  Their invitations come with a catch.  I’ll invite you as long as you’re useful to me…case in point, Jesus and man with dropsy and the room full of Pharisees and Lawyers.

C. Humility Has a Greater Reward

Lk 14:13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,

Lk 14:14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Jesus wants us to be different.  We must be the ones who invite the man with dropsy because he is created in God’s image and we care for him and his soul.  He’s invited not to be used but because we can’t use him.  He’s invited because we simply care and aren’t concerned whether or not we’ll get anything in return.  The fact is we won’t and it will probably even cost us something, but we invite him anyway.

Notice Jesus’ closing parable:

3. The Real Party

Lk 14:15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

Lk 14:16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.

Lk 14:17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

Lk 14:18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’

Lk 14:19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’

Lk 14:20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’

Lk 14:21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’

We must read this parable in light of the previous chapter.  Jesus has been calling the Israelites to come into the Kingdom of God and over and over they have refused to enter…The gospel will now go to the Gentiles, the poor, crippled, blind, and lame.

In other words, the Gospel comes to us.  We are the poor, crippled, blind, and lame who God invites to the great banquet feast.  Just as Jesus commends to his disciples the practice of inviting the poor to their parties, He does so because that is the practice of God.

4. Application

I want to close with this point of application:

Since only those who exhibit humility from a changed heart are invited to the great banquet feast then how do we foster more and more humility in our lives?  How do we become more and more the ones who invite the poor rather than the ones who will benefit us in this life?  How can we become people like this?

We must begin with truth…

First, do you understand who you really are?  You are poor, blind, and powerless.  If you are invited to the feast it’s not because God can get something from you.  If you are invited it’s because God loves you and desires to not receive anything except the glory you give Him.

Second, Do you understand that you’re a sinner?  Do you really understand that there is no part of you that is not corrupt by sin?  Do you fully grasp that you should not be invited to the feast because of your sin?

Third, Do you understand what it took to add you to the guest list?  Do you understand that the Guest of Honor died to pay the penalty for your sin?  Do you understand that He wrote your name down and the ink He used was His own blood?

This kind of knowledge is where humility is born.

This is what God requires.

Love God and be humble!

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