Summary: Although the Pharisees had set a trap for him, Jesus used this dinner as time to teach on compassion for our fellow man.
Eating with the Enemy
Introduction: Several times in the book of Luke, we see that Jesus goes to eat in the house of a Pharisee. Here in Luke 14, we see the last of these encounters. What’s really interesting about this passage is that, during this one dinner, Jesus teaches on three of the most important themes from the book of Luke: (1) the danger of tradition; (2) the need to reach out to the outcasts of the world; (3) the universality of the gospel.
1. The Trap is Set (14:1-6)
a) The Pharisees set a trap for Jesus.
1. Where most English versions say the Pharisees were “watching” Jesus, the Spanish versions reflect better the force of the Greek verb, in that they were “spying” on Jesus or “stalking” Jesus, like an animal stalks it prey.
2. While it’s possible that the man with dropsy just happened to be there, it’s more likely that the Pharisees had brought him there to test Jesus and see if he would heal on the Sabbath.
b) Jesus used it as a teaching moment and a chance to do good.
1. Jesus could have healed the man at another moment, but chose to heal the man AND teach his opponents.
2. He showed them that they had developed traditions that allowed them to do good to an animal yet forbade them to do the same to a human being!
2. Seating Charts (14:7-11)
a) The custom of the day said that seats close to the host or special guest were more important than seats farther away. Something like the concept of the “head table” today.
b) “He who exalts himself will be humbled. He who humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus takes this beyond dinner etiquette and teaches a life lesson. If we build ourselves up, we are setting ourselves up for a fall.
3. Dinner Invitations (14:12-14)
a) Jesus calls us to include those the world rejects. Not just in the context of our assemblies, but in our personal lives. This is a struggle for me. I am much more apt to welcome the homeless and drug addicts and other “outcasts” into our worship service than I am to invite them to my home!
b) Those who do so will receive an eternal reward. It’s striking how many times Jesus teaches that our response to our fellow man will affect our eternal reward.
4. Come to the Feast (14:15-24)
a) At that time, people would announce a dinner for a certain time frame without giving a specific day or time. Then when everything was ready, they would call together those who had been invited. These people had valid excuses, but the point is, the dinner was not a priority with them.
b) Those who were invited refused to go. The Jews, who had been called by God to be his own people, occupied themselves with other things. They didn’t make a relationship with God the center of their religion.
c) The hall was filled with unexpected guests. Will we be surprised when we see who is included on the last day?
Looking in the Mirror:
The Pharisees had built up a system that could exclude and discriminate and even refuse to do good, all in the name of serving God.
Are we doing the same with our traditions?
Have the outcast of the world found a home in our churches?
Have we made outreach to the less fortunate a priority?
Remember what Jesus said: “You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” What could be better than that?