2018-07-25 / Religion

Parable of the great dinner

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Luke 14:15-24

Some individuals seem to understand their position in life as the “corrector of all that they see as wrong.” Their self-imposed standards are not shared with those who come under their personal judgment. Yet, their time is spent in attempts to “correct” things that others do not know that it needs “correcting.”

The religious leaders at the time of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ of Nazareth assumed this personal position. Their “traditions” were seen as equal to or even above the declared Word of God. Their “exclusive religious club” was seen as the “keeper of perfection,” with no sharing of their standards, The “beloved physician,” Luke (Colossians 4:14), recorded, “And it came to pass, as he (Jesus) went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they (these Pharisees) watched him.” Luke 14:1.

There was a man, present, who had the condition now known as “congestive heart failure” or “dropsy.” Luke 14:2. Our Master met these critics with a question — “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?” Luke 14:3b. The response was a “deafening silence.” “And they held their peace.” Luke 14:4a. This “silent exchange” resulted in the healing of the sick man. Luke 14:4b. Following this act of grace and mercy, these men were presented with a question “Which of you shall have an ass (donkey) or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?” Luke 14:5. Again, the deafening silence became the self-righteous answer. Luke 14:6.

Self-exaltation seemed to be part of the specialty of these “professionally religious” people. As they entered into any situation, they expected to be placed in some kind of socially or religiously exalted position, Our Lord had observed this action. He painted a picture in which the self-proclaimed important person was displaced by someone who is “more honorable.” See Luke 14:7-10. The divine conclusion was, “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased (made low); and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Luke 14:11.

This short discourse was followed by an address to his present host.”...When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and recompense (to give) be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the recompense (to give back) be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just (righteous).” Luke 14:12-14.

One of the men, who was present at the feast made a “religious-sounding” observation — “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God.” Luke 14:15b This declaration became the foundation for a teaching concerning the nation of Israel. This short discourse was directed toward the Chosen Nation, but it has application in the daily lives of all believers.

Since our Lord was present at a feast, he used this setting for his teaching — “Then said he unto him (the host), A certain man made a great supper, and bade many...” Luke 14:16. We are not given the details regarding the way people were placed on the guest list.

There seems to have been elaborate preparations made for this special occasion. The day finally arrived. We are told that the host “sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.” Luke 14:17. The response of the invited guests becomes the central theme of the remainder of this story “And they all with one consent began to make excuse.” Luke 14:18a. The Greek word “excuse,” paints the picture of one who is “now begging off.” The people had, originally, accepted the invitation, but now had a change of mind good or bad. Our English word, “excuse,” means “to try to free (a person) of blame; seek to exonerate... to release from an obligation, duty, promise, etc.” (Webster). Someone has described an excuse as “the skin of a reason, stuffed with a lie.” All of these uses carry a theme of insincerity.

The faithful servant reported the answers that he had been given. “The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.” Luke 14:18b. Obviously, commerce is needed. Yet, this fact should not prevent one from fulfilling accepted obligations – unless an emergency arises. The record tells us, “And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.” Luke 14:19. Yes, equipment is needed to carry out some tasks in life. Yet, should this come between the invited guest and the carrying out of accepted obligations? The Old Testament Law allowed a time period for newlyweds to be without major social obligations. We are given not details regarding this third declaration– “And another said, I have married a wife, and therefor I cannot come.” Luke 14:20.

The servant had no control over the responses that he reported. “So that servant came and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said unto his servant, go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring hither (here) the poor, the maimed, and the lame, and the blind.” Luke 14:21. After completing his portion of his task, “the servant said, Lord, it is done as they hast commanded, and yet there is room.” Luke 14:22. The Lord gave further instructions “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” Luke 14:23. The declaration of the lord was to pronounce his personal judgment on those who were first bidden “For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” Luke 14:24.

The nation of Israel had been bidden to the “supper.” As a nation, they refused to come. We can rejoice in the calling of the outcasts — the Gentiles — allowing us to be part of that called group. Have you accepted the divine provision? If not, please do so today. John 3:16.

Rev. James C. Temples can be contacted at temples_ james@yahoo.com

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