September 18, 2022
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
Luke 14:1, 7-14
Luke 14:1, 7-14
One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.
7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
The game ‘Rock, paper, scissors’ is a simple game often played by children although it can make its way into adult interactions. The game is played by two people, who each have three options to choose from in a round: rock, paper or scissors. Each round only two or in some cases one, if both players choose the same option, of the three options are played. Each player wins or loses depending on their choice and the choice of the other person. Each option of rock, paper or scissor is equal because they can each win or lose. The game then is a mix of chance and carefully watching the other person.
Jesus was carefully watched by the Pharisees throughout his ministry. They watched him carefully not to win a game, but regarding eternal salvation. Many of the Pharisees rejected Jesus as the Savior seeing him only as an opponent to their way of life. When Jesus confronted the Pharisees on their rejection of him and leading the people to eternal damnation in hell rather than eternal salvation in heaven with their teachings, they were furious with Jesus as we read in Luke 11,
53 “When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54 waiting to catch him in something he might say.”
Jesus did not shy away from the rejection of the Pharisees. Instead, he continued meeting with them repeating the truth so that they would come to believe in him. Jesus wanted to preach his message of repentance to all people as we hear in 1 Timothy 2, 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Jesus’ love is so great that he repeatedly taught those who were against him like the Pharisees because faith comes from hearing the message as we hear in Romans 10, 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. In our Gospel reading today from Luke 14, we find Jesus again with the Pharisees, 1 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.
Every time the Pharisees were carefully watching Jesus, he watched them. Jesus watched and knew the Pharisees better than they knew themselves. On this occasion eating in the home of a prominent Pharisees Jesus took the opportunity to teach them about the kingdom of God using their present circumstances. We read in Luke 14,
7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.
At this point in the parable, Jesus highlighted the problem of pride or overestimating yourself. Then, he continued with the solution.
10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests.
The solution was humility, which Jesus then applied to a timeless truth of the kingdom of God, 11 “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” The Pharisees had excluded themselves from faith in Jesus, the kingdom of God and eternal life in heaven. They lost themselves in a false idea that they were worthy to be in God’s kingdom because of the way they lived their lives. They told one another and everyone else that they were good people to such a degree that they all believed it, which caused them to turn away from hope in the Savior.
Jesus watches you just as closely as he watched the Pharisees. The level of detail God knows about you and me is recorded in Psalm 139,
1 “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
Jesus knows you better than you know yourself, which regarding your sins is mortifying. Jesus’ ability to tell people what they needed to hear, his ministry of miracles and teaching were not chance, sleight of hand or wisdom gleaned from old age. Jesus has power and knowledge unmatched by anyone because he is God as we read in Colossians 2, 9 “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 … He is the head over every power and authority.” Jesus knows when you have lifted yourself up, thought more highly of yourself than you ought, lost yourself to pride, ego and selfishness. In our Old Testament reading from Proverbs 25, we read,
6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; 7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.
My disregard for others is sinful. When I do not consider the hurt, pain, damage, despair, etc. my words and actions cause others, I have sinned. When you hoard your money, time, spiritual gifts and words to build your own kingdom disregarding God’s kingdom or believing God will reward you for your little kingdom, you have sinned. When we puff one another up with ideals and standards we come up with, rather than examining ourselves using God’s Word, we sin. When we lift ourselves up, there is only one way to go, down.
Jesus humbled himself to save you. To save you, Jesus carried out what he said in Luke 14, 11 “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Jesus did not come to this world high and mighty to crush us. Instead, he humbled himself as we read in Philippians 2,
6 “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
Jesus let himself lose to save you. Jesus took our sins of pride, of exalting or lifting ourselves up on himself, and then was punished on the cross. Jesus did this because he loves you as we read in John 15, 13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Then, Jesus rose from the dead. And since our sins were left buried in the grave, we are forgiven and we will be raised with him as we read in Ephesians 2,
6 “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
We are free from fear of being rejected from the banquet table in heaven through Jesus.
God chose you to be at his table. God’s love asks for nothing in return. That kind of love now lives in you. In our New Testament reading from Hebrews 13, we read,
1 “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
The kind of hospitality we are encouraged to show in this last chapter of Hebrews flows from love that asks for nothing in return. Helping strangers, those in prison and the mistreated will not bring you prestige. In most cases helping others will put you at a loss, it will mean giving something up, it means saying, “No” to something you want to say, “Yes” to something someone else needs.
The game ‘Rock, paper, scissors’ is a simple game often played by children although it can make its way into adult interactions. Each option of rock, paper or scissor is equal because they can each win or lose. The game then is a mix of chance and carefully watching the other person. The outcome of your life is not a game of chance. Jesus humbled himself to save you on the cross because he loves you. Show love to others by carefully watching them to find out how to teach them about Jesus and how to serve them in love. Also, give thanks for your Savior’s love for sinners because God raises up the humble. Amen.