Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: Jesus Goes After the Heart Attitudes
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
Jesus Goes After the Heart Attitudes
After healing the man with dropsy, Jesus turns his attention to the guests and then the host of the dinner party and continues to ruthlessly go after the heart. But the Pharisees don’t want that. They would rather work for God and ignore the condition of their hearts. But Christ is always attacking right actions with wrong heart as evil and God finds no pleasure in it. In Isaiah, God commands Israel to fast and then tells them he hates their fast and their worship because their hearts are not right. Right actions without the right heart, a transformed heart, lacks joy and worship is empty yet we were created for ever increasing joy and worship.
1. We Love the Praise of Others (vs. 7-11)
Jesus turns to the guests and tells them a parable. A parable is a story that communicates a spiritual truth. At dinner parties in the ANE there would be a U shaped table which everyone sat around with the host in the middle. The closer you were to the host the more important you were seen to be. Conversely the farther away you were the less important you were. The most significant spot was to the left of the host; the second was to his right. Jesus notices that people are jockeying with each other for the best seats around the table. They are writing their names on cups and placing them in the best spots, they are setting personal items on the chairs, licking the silverware to secure their spot, and if you got up someone stole your spot. Not only do they lack compassion (remember the issue over healing on the Sabbath) but when they walk into a room they look around and think everyone is there to make much of them. But Jesus does not care about seats or about manipulating us to be lowly so we might be exalted. He cares about the issues of their heart - they are looking for the praise of others. Jesus is saying do you recognize this dark place in your heart. Do you recognize that you love the praise of others more than you love God? They are full of pride, convinced that everyone at the party is subservient to them, and exist to sing their praises. If anyone deserves to be praised and honored and served then it is me yet you brought me here to trap me and humiliate me. I should be invited to sit at the place of honor yet you despise me. When we have no sense of our own identity in Christ then we are always going to look for external props to make us feel better about ourselves. God your Father chose you before the foundation of the world, he drew you to himself, he took out the heart of stone and gave you a heart of flesh, he made you his child, he sealed you with the Holy Spirit, and he promises never to leave you nor forsake you. When you can rest in that you will not need the praise of others, you will be able to endure difficulties and suffering because you know in your heart that nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ.
2. We Love Others who Make Much of Us (vs. 12- 24)
Jesus moves from addressing the guests to addressing the host. This guy is probably wondering why in the world did he let others talk him into inviting this guy, he is trouble. He tells the host a parable that starts like this - When you have a banquet do not invite your friends, family or significant people lest they invite you to something in return to repay you for your hospitality. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Ignore the haves and invite the have-nots. He is attacking that part of the heart that loves to be made much of. You only invite people you love, who can make much of you, make you feel good about yourself, make you feel important or significant. You extend hospitality and mercy to them because they can make much of you or do in kind.
We don’t have a problem with this kind of text because we don’t think it applies to us. We are the good guys; we are on the Jesus team. “I was telling them the same thing just before you got here Jesus.” But let me ask you this in another way. Do you see other people as having souls? Does the person at the coffee shop have a soul or do they exist only to take care of you and serve you. What about your boss, the subcontractor you hired, or your employee, your children’s teacher or their coach, your neighbor, or the person behind the counter as SBS? Do they mean anything to you expect to serve you and take care of you. Unfortunately, most of us see our lives as a movie about me and everyone in it is a bit actor who is there to serve me and make much of me, make me feel good about myself. No one else has a soul but me – no one can have a bad day but me, no one can be irritable but me, no one can get attention but me. When Jesus goes after the heart, we want to ignore him and instead work for him. When Jesus says you have no compassion, you lack of humility, you are self-centered, we want to ignore him and do something for him. I don’t want to look at my heart but I tell you what Jesus, I will go to church, I will give, I will serve, I will even go to a life group. God starts to point out the condition of our hearts, part of our heart that is diseased and we deflect it because we want don’t want to look at it. We make excuses so our hearts never are transformed and that is how we get a stunted form of Christianity. We ignore the heart but focus on doing things and when we do them well we get the praise of others and temporarily feel good about ourselves all the time thinking it is Gods joy when it is a shallow counterfeit. It is funny how we use religion to run from him. We all have the tendency to do this and we end up with thorns in the garden of our lives rather than rather than fruit.