Our text is Luke 14:7-24
Our study is entitled Jesus Addresses Humility
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.
In his book, The Life You've
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?
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.
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.
As in the lesson from two weeks
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.
Jesus was under close
but the subsequent healing seemed to have been done without overt
controversy. Instead, Luke's focus is on the dynamics of the meal itself.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble
themselves will be exalted.
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.”
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
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.
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.
Rather than identify and
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We do well
to fellowship with those different than our social, political and financial
Jesus now employs a similar
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
The guest list usually includes close friends, relatives, and the rich folks
Apparently, everyone wants the
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.” ’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
There were no government
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Having invited the neediest
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
God honors the humble
not the proud. True exaltation is for God and from God, not a gift we
bestow on ourselves.
Let’s make some closing
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.
Let’s make some closing
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.