Mt. 3:9 π Lk. 14:1 π Lk. 14:12-14 π Lk. 14:15 π Lk. 14:16-24 π Lk. 18:9-14 π Jn. 8:33 π Eph. 1:22 π Col. 1:18
The circumstances in which Jesus gave some of His teachings can sometimes give that teaching a deeper emphasis than one might first suppose. The following parable - and the setting in which it was given - is a classic example. On one occasion, the Lord gave this parable:
"A certain man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour 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. The first one said to him, 'I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.' And another one said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.' And another one said, 'I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.'
"And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, 'Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.' And the slave said, 'Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.'
"And the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner." ( Lk. 14:16-24; top )
This parable contains enough to chew on for some time. We know this parable refers, not to some mere dinner nor even to the marriage supper of the Lamb, but to one's eternal destiny and total relationship with God and Christ. The head of God's household is Christ ( Eph. 1:22 , Col. 1:18; top ) and it is Christ who, in righteous anger, promises that none of those invited who had other, higher priorities than their life with God would partake of His eternal, resurrection life.
Let us correctly name the sin which these invitees were committing - idolatry. They considered their property, their business and their personal life to be of greater importance than attending this man's dinner. In the world, this is perfectly reasonable. But, in the world, it blatantly displays the invitees' complete lack of regard and interest in having any relationship of worth with the host of that dinner. Relations with that host had nothing of value for the landowner, the business owner nor the new husband - relations with the host were perceived as useless, perhaps even an interference or obstacle to what the invitees perceived as important and necessary. When we perceive that Jesus' story is about God being the host who offers eternal life but who is being snubbed and avoided, His promise to exclude the disdainful invitees from eternal life begins to make more sense.
As we begin to seek to discover more clearly the identity of those who were invited, we find that Jesus was having dinner with some men when He gave that parable. Just before Jesus gives this parable, we read, "...one of those who were reclining at the table...said to Him, 'Blessed is everyone who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!'" ( Lk. 14:15 ) The man who said this was more interested in justifying himself and defending his host and his own lifestyle than he was in speaking truth for the benefit of his listeners. This man blindly assumed that all practicers of the Jewish religion - all the physical sons of Abraham (see Mt. 3:9 , Jn. 8:33; top ) - were those who would partake of the eternal life of God. Jesus rebuked this man - an invitee at the dinner he shared with Jesus - with the above parable of the great supper.
What prompted this pious-sounding remark from this man was the corrective reproof and instructions that Jesus had just give to the host, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." ( Lk. 14:12-14; top ) It was this bold, impudent reproof against the gracious, generous (and powerful) host by this young, upstart, itinerant teacher and prophet Jesus (from Nazareth, no less!) that motivated this other guest to rise up against what Jesus was saying.
How do we know all this? Because the man who had invited Jesus to eat bread with him on this particular Sabbath was a leader of the Pharisees. ( Lk. 14:1; top )
Shortly after this clash, Jesus would give another teaching, another parable,
"to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:
"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'
"I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted." ( Lk. 18:9-14; top )
There is no evidence here that the Pharisee was egotistical or practiced what we would consider rank arrogance. That is, he did not suppose himself the greatest man alive and he at least had the decency to keep his exalted opinions of himself to himself. No, it is not that the Pharisee thought of himself as "great" but rather as "better" than others. He thought of himself as "good" and "o.k." - especially with God. The problem here is not mere arrogance - it is the Pharisee's mistaken appraisal of himself in comparison with others. The Pharisee was just as spiritually bankrupt, just as crippled, just as blind and just as lame as the tax-gatherer but he had allowed himself to believe he was o.k. This belief that we are o.k. or even "good people" - more easy to believe than that we are great - is thus more effective in blinding us to our genuine need to be changed, rescued and healed.
Jesus chose the characters in this story carefully. The Pharisee represented the most respected class of individuals who would be perceived as the "men of God" of His day - the cream of the crop, the best of the best. The tax-gatherer was a thief, robber and traitor to his own people for the sake of money - as low a lowlife as one could be, the scum of the worst pot imaginable.
Were Jesus to choose the same character types today, He would choose a "pastor" or faithful "church" member to display the self-supposed hypocrisy which we now know portrays the Pharisee - and He would choose someone like a drug addict, ex-convict who breaks into homes to feed his drug habit as one who displays the despicable nature of the tax-gatherer. It is the "pastor" and "church" member who blindly assume that they are righteous (right in God's eyes) because they preach at or attend "church" several times a week and give a portion of their income to further "the work of God" in their "church."
As we draw daily nearer to the time when our lives will be evaluated and the products of our life and energies will be exposed for what they really are in the light of eternity, let us remember that only the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame actually partake of the great supper - the eternal resurrection life of Christ. The self-righteous, those who suppose they are in themselves right in God's eyes because of their own actions, will never partake of the table of the Lord.
The "pastor" who secretly relies on his position and the "church" member who subconsciously relies on his religious routines (most often mere "church" attendance) are no different than the Pharisee who relied on his religious traditions to count himself as among "the righteous." Nor are they any different than the idolaters who find convenient excuses to relegate God to second, third or even lower place in their life. Each - though in truth they are poor, crippled, blind or lame - is far too proud to admit their own faults and defects in character. And should someone not attend their "church" or not agree with their favorite teachers (under whatever titles they preach and teach - "pastor," "apostle," "prophet," etc.), they will view such ones with contempt, dismissing them as mere victims of some demonic possession or even as being under God's judgment. These religious charlatans, frauds and counterfeits would prefer to immerse themselves in any activity that seems good at the time rather than simply and humbly confess their deep-seated brokenness and imperfections and respond in simple obedience to the King who by all rights owns them any way. These who think they've already come to the Savior - though there is very little evidence to suggest what they might have been saved from - see none of their own need for the Savior, Physician and Lord of our souls, spirits and lives.
Rather than admit that they are poor, blind, crippled and lame, these will posit themselves as leaders and examples for others to follow - never knowing until it is too late that the Master of the great feast has vowed in His anger to never let a single one of them partake in any way of His eternal life!
Let he who has ears hear.
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