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Jesus on Humility

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International Lesson for January 19

International Lesson for January 19

Published in: Spiritual

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  • 1. Welcome to the Lesson for the Week
  • 2. Our text is Luke 14:7-24 Our study is entitled Jesus Addresses Humility
  • 3. Let’s begin with the Context. The scene described in today’s text takes place in the third year of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Luke explains that Jesus was being carefully watched by his critics.
  • 4. In his book, The Life You've Always Wanted John Ortberg asks, We'd like to be humble—but what if no one notices? If we take pride in our giftedness, why not be proud of our humbleness? And if no one notices how humble we are, shouldn't we point it out?
  • 5. To anyone with a biblical perspective on humility, the idea of trumpeting humbleness as a prideful accomplishment does not make sense. It is an oxymoron, a self-contradiction. Pride and humility are not good partners. As the apostle James said, God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.
  • 6. This week's lesson takes us to some of Jesus' instructions in this regard. Today's lesson takes us into a period of time known as the later Perean ministry of Jesus. During this time Jesus was invited to a Sabbath-day meal at the home of a prominent Pharisee.
  • 7. As in the lesson from two weeks ago, this appears to be a test as to whether or not Jesus will heal on the Sabbath. The man suffered from edema or swelling of the limbs with fluid. The critics didn’t care about the health of a very sick man who was brought to Jesus. What they were interested in was seeing whether or not Jesus would cure him, since it was a Sabbath day.
  • 8. Jesus was under close observation but the subsequent healing seemed to have been done without overt controversy. Instead, Luke's focus is on the dynamics of the meal itself.
  • 9. Knowing a few things about these village meals by invitation will help us understand what was going. The meal at issue in our text happened in a private home, thus sharply limiting the size of the guest list. Luke does not say how many guests were there, but probably no more than about a dozen were at the table, reclining on cushioned benches.
  • 10. Therefore it is a mistake to think of these local dinners as banquets in the modern sense of hundreds of guests situated in a hotel ballroom. The meal would have been served by women of the household or by servants. It is also likely that there were others present who were not at the table, but were standing or sitting around the edges of the room.
  • 11. This arrangement indicated a pecking order of the most honored guests were at the table, while the less honored were not. The host presided from a central position at the table, and the closer one was to the host, the more prestigious his status at this dinner. Meals-by-invitation in the village would have been of differing size and scope depending on the occasion. A weekly Sabbath meal like the one in our text would have been less elaborate than a wedding feast.
  • 12. The lesson teaches how we as Christians always be found showing humility. The study's aim is to understand what Jesus really wants to see in those who choose to follow Him and to see that a follower of Christ must endeavor to be as much like Jesus as he can possible be. The study's application is to consider what changes we need to make in order to be like Jesus.
  • 13. We begin with Luke 14:7-14 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, Give this person your place, and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.
  • 14. Luke 14:7-14 But when you are invited, go and sit down at 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 the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
  • 15. Luke 14:7-14 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
  • 16. With the healing done, Jesus uses the opportunity of the meal for a teaching parable. This begins not as a parable in the usual sense of a little story, but as a contrast between proud, pushy people and those who are lowly and humble. Because God is concerned about our daily lives, Jesus expressed His concern about the ordinary and practical aspects of daily living as well as the deeper and more profound truths about God.
  • 17. Learning how to live faithful to God in our ordinary daily relationships with others in the small things or what appear to be the small things to us or others will prepare us to know what to do in more crucial situations and in larger things. If we prove responsible in small matters, God and others can trust us to do what is necessary in larger matters.
  • 18. Rather than identify and embarrass individuals who are in the room at the time, Jesus uses a related and familiar situation for His point, a meal at a wedding. The occasional wedding in a rural village is an important social event. It involves pageantry and celebration along with lots of rich food and drink. The groom’s family is expected to host a large dinner the evening before the new couple’s first night together. This seems to be the sort of event Jesus has in mind in His illustration.
  • 19. Jesus taught that someday in the future He would host the marriage supper of the Lamb. It would never be proper for anyone to push or rush ahead of others to seek the best seats above others in the Kingdom of God or at the marriage supper of the Lamb. If we follow the Golden Rule, we might try to help others without concern for ourselves and without hoping Jesus will give us better seats as a reward for our service.
  • 20. Jesus warned against our developing an arrogance or pride that makes us think that we are better than others and deserve better than others. If we seek out the place of honor and take that place in order to be admired by others, we risk the host coming to us and telling us to move to a lower place. This is good practical advice. If we grasp after the highest place, our grasping may reveal something about our spiritual condition.
  • 21. Many events and dinners have head tables, and the most honored guests have places reserved for them at these head tables. Today, most people would not knowingly sit at a head table without being invited. It is better for a believer in Jesus Christ to serve Christ and others without thought of reward, but always humbly taking the lower place of service above self.
  • 22. But Jesus is offering far more than social advice here. His parable is intended to compare this situation with a principle in God’s kingdom: the self-promoting person will eventually be humbled, whereas the person who acts with humility will eventually be honored even exalted.
  • 23. This is an example of what is sometimes called the great reversal in the Bible. The world teaches us to push to the front, to seek honor and glory, but God overturns the world’s rules and expectations.
  • 24. Jesus summarized the main point of His parable. His followers must not exalt themselves before God and others. They were not to seek a place at His left or right hand; places reserved for others. Humble hearts and humble service of others should be the spiritual goal of all Jesus’ followers. Jesus provided an example of this selfless service and His Father exalted Him to His right hand.
  • 25. Let us learn this Lesson. Seeking honor makes one think more highly of himself than he ought. As the apostle Paul said in his Roman letter, For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
  • 26. We do well to fellowship with those different than our social, political and financial status.
  • 27. Jesus now employs a similar social situation to illustrate another godly principle. We should remember the setting for these teachings were rural, first-century villages. Here there are no fancy restaurants open to the public. Therefore, lavish dinner events usually are staged in private homes. Such dinners are by invitation only, and there is a lot of reciprocal inviting so that if I invite you to my festivities, I expect to be invited to yours. The guest list usually includes close friends, relatives, and the rich folks in town.
  • 28. Apparently, everyone wants the rich people to come to their festive gatherings, whether they are friends or not. Inviting those who are rich seems to be done with the expectation that the one doing the inviting will, in turn, be invited to the rich man’s dinner parties.
  • 29. Jesus’ principle in this verse relates to those who only do good in order to derive some selfish personal benefit or reward. Those who expect others to do something good for them in return someday should listen. Jesus does not mean that we should only invite poor people to our dinner parties. Rather, our goal should not always focus on What’s in it for me?
  • 30. Rather than look up the social ladder and devise ways to climb higher on it, Jesus advises looking to those who are on the bottom rung. Instead of inviting rich people whose acquaintance may be to one’s benefit, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. These are the beggars, who have little or no income. They will not be able to stage a lavish dinner party to invite you to attend in return.
  • 31. A true follower of Jesus Christ will do good things for others whether or not others can do good things for them in return. The economically deprived and the mentally and physically disabled need many things for their real needs to be met, and Jesus’ disciples need open hearts and hands to help them without thought of getting anything in return.
  • 32. We must keep in mind that those in this class of people were despised, even seen as cursed by God for some reason. From the human viewpoint, they are not objects of pity, but of disgust. But Jesus has God the Father in view here. Those who offer one-way invitations to include the village’s most unfortunate residents will be blessed, honored by God. Their reward will come at the resurrection of the just.
  • 33. Jesus did reassure His followers that they would be rewarded: God would repay them after God raised them from the dead. Believers who give can rest happy and satisfied that God notices and God does keep a record of the good things they do for others. Believers should have higher objectives than personal gain when they do good things for others.
  • 34. Now let’s read Luke 14:15-24 One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, ‘Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, “Come; for everything is ready now.” But they all alike began to make excuses.
  • 35. Luke 14:15-24 The first said to him, I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my apologies. Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.” So the slave returned and reported this to his master.
  • 36. Luke 14:15-24 Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” And the slave said, “Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” Then the master said to the slave, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.” ’
  • 37. One of the dinner guests, perhaps a disciple, perhaps not, entered into the conversation by trying to affirm what Jesus taught. Anyone who eats at the marriage supper of the Lamb or the great messianic feast in the Kingdom of God will be honored and happy. This person may have expressed this truth with some self-satisfaction because he believed that he would be so blessed for some reason.
  • 38. Therefore, Jesus told a parable that indicated people were being invited to the feast in the Kingdom of God whenever He shared the good news or taught and later whenever His disciples shared the good news and taught, but many preferred the things of this world to the things of God. Jesus said that those who preferred the things of this world to the things of God would not experience the things of God or enjoy the messianic feast in the Kingdom of God.
  • 39. Those who prefer the things of this world may think that because of their privileged position in this life that they will receive another invitation later and have a second chance to repent, but Jesus’ conclusion is far more sobering and serves as a warning to the worldly.
  • 40. In the parable, that someone ultimately is God the Father or Jesus the Messiah. God is the host of the feast. The feast is the promised feast in the Kingdom of God that the Jews looked forward to with eager anticipation. Jesus is applying His parable to the statement that the guest made at the dinner they were attending.
  • 41. When Jesus the Messiah came into the world, everything was ready for Him to preach and teach and eat with the religious and sinners. Many were invited to hear Him, but not everyone took advantage of the invitation or opportunity. In Jesus’ parable, the slave could be one of Jesus’ followers or disciples; they were telling people that today is the day of salvation because the Messiah is here.
  • 42. A most unexpected thing now happens in the parable: the invited guests all make excuse for why they can’t come! One claims he has a pressing real estate situation. One is involved with new livestock. One excuses himself because he is recently married. These excuses have two things in common. First, they give us the sense that there is a long period of time between the initial invitation and the servant’s call; during the interim, the invitees have lost interest. Second, they all show disrespect for the host; other things are more important than honoring the invitation.
  • 43. We have good reason to believe that those invited by the slave had agreed to the invitation to dinner when they first received it sometime earlier. Those invited may represent those who practiced the Judaism of Jesus’ day. Most likely, Jesus told this parable to Jews and Jewish leaders who believed that just because they were Jews they would automatically eat bread in the Kingdom of God.
  • 44. The parable can still be applied to people today. Those invited were only waiting to learn the time when the feast was ready; however, when the time came to go to the feast, the time of the feast conflicted with their worldly priorities and their worldly priorities came first before honoring God’s priorities. Likewise, a person may say they believe in God and want to go to heaven someday, but their worldly priorities interfere so they miss the feast and miss heaven too.
  • 45. In Jesus’ parable, those invited first began to make excuses: ―they all alike‖ may refer to everyone the host first invited to the feast – the host had ―invited many.‖ They all alike may mean they all were concerned primarily about the things of this world. The first excuse shows more concern for the person’s possessions in this world than for the host who issued the invitation. The excuse shows more interest in buying things than learning about God and doing what God says.
  • 46. Did the first person purchase land unseen? Did the second person purchase oxen unseen, so he did not know how they would behave under a yoke? They were certainly unwise to put their possessions in a place of more importance than spending time with God, Who invites us to spend time with Him, not only now but throughout eternity.
  • 47. The third person could probably have brought his wife to the feast. Jesus ate with men and women at the same dinner and taught men and women while they ate together. Our relationship with God is more important than any of the relationships that we have in this life alone. The misled guest could spend time with his wife, his new wife, after the feast. To reject Jesus’ invitation may mean you will never receive another invitation.
  • 48. Although angry, the master of the house orders the servant to invite the village’s most unfortunate: the poor destitute beggars, the maimed disabled due to injury, the halt unable to walk, and the blind. These people are to be found on the main streets, perhaps begging, but will also live in the lanes, the backstreets of hovels and shacks.
  • 49. There were no government programs to assist the disabled in Jesus’ day. Their lives are hard, miserable, and often short. They are never welcome at fancy meals such as the one where Jesus is giving this teaching. We can imagine their incredulity at this invitation, followed by joyful acceptance.
  • 50. The owner of the house had every right to expect his invited guests to accept and honor his invitation. As noted above, these guests apparently had previously agreed to come, and at the last moment chose not to come and gave excuses.
  • 51. Representing God, the Master had ultimate authority and justifiable anger. So, having invited the wealthy and religious people who rejected Him, He invited the neediest people; who probably felt so unworthy to enter the master’s house that the slave had to bring them in.
  • 52. We must be careful not to push the parable to mean more than Jesus intended, though we will discover more and more insights every time we read one of Jesus’ parables. The slave reported to the master that he still had room for more guests, but the master did not extend a second invitation to those he had invited first.
  • 53. Jesus’ message means we must be careful not to spurn God’s invitation to act, because often we only get one chance to do something for God and others. We may never receive a second chance to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior if our worldly pursuits always seem more important until it is too late.
  • 54. Having invited the neediest people all around him and closest to him, and having brought them into his house, the master will fill his house with those who happened to be in the neighborhood and traveling or doing business in the streets. The master has sufficient authority over everyone to compel them to come to his feast, but he did not compel those to come who rejected him and preferred worldly pursuits to being with him.
  • 55. Those in the roads and lanes may have felt compelled to go by the person who invited them because they knew the master was worthy to be honored by them and they felt humbly amazed at the invitation to go to his feast.
  • 56. The third wave of invitations goes to those in the highways and hedges. This is to move beyond the village boundaries and invite anyone who may be found out there. In the larger context, this seems to be a prophecy of the day when the invitation to join God’s kingdom is extended beyond the nation of Israel, to the Gentiles. God wants His house to be filled.
  • 57. Here a Lesson is learned Seeking humility rewards by knowing that in our weakness God's strength makes us strong. As Paul spoke of God in his second Corinthian letter, But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  • 58. Jesus came and invited people to follow Him because the Kingdom of God was at hand or in their midst. To eat dinner with Jesus anywhere was to eat at a messianic dinner with the Messiah, the King. If a person refused to eat with Jesus or listen to Jesus, he would miss the spiritual food and the message and way of salvation that Jesus came into the world to bring. To remain away from Jesus as the King over all will result in eternal consequences for those who reject Him.
  • 59. Let’s sum up now. Jesus gives very practical advice. Rather than risk the embarrassment of being asked to give up a place of honor, begin instead at a more humble place. If this strategy is followed, there is not only no risk of humiliation, but also there is the possibility of being promoted to a higher place at the table, a public honor.
  • 60. Proverbs 25 indicates that what Jesus is teaching is nothing new. The Pharisees, who pride themselves in their meticulous attention to the law, should already know this! In fact, Jewish wisdom defined true humility as forgiving those who wrong us, accepting the loss of health, finances or a loved one, never arrogant in success, unchanged by affluence and willing to show repentance in public.
  • 61. God honors the humble not the proud. True exaltation is for God and from God, not a gift we bestow on ourselves.
  • 62. Let’s make some closing applications Never seek to take glory for yourself. Let another person give you honor, not yourself. Selfishness always leads to pride and division, whereas selflessness leads to harmony in relationships.
  • 63. Let’s make some closing applications Invest your life not in those who are able to return the favor but in those who are not able to pay you back. God rewards humility and Christ-like service.