Summary: A message to believers about the value of every person, and message to sinners of hope and acceptance in Jesus Christ.
All societies have their values — who is honored, who is looked up to, who is invited to great events. All week long I’ve heard on Detroit radio about an event tomorrow night that is going to feature “40 celebrities on stage,” and it sounds from the promotional material as if everybody who’s somebody in Detroit is going to be at Fox Theatre tomorrow night for a star-studded evening with people who matter.
Former Vice President Dan Quayle remembered a woman at a social event in Washington remarking, “Did you ever think you’d be around so many important people?” She expected him to be awed at the importance of the people around him.
In today’s passage, Jesus had been invited to a dinner with “people who mattered.” The community and religious leaders had gathered in a Pharisee’s house to meet with Jesus, and early in the dinner, Jesus saw the power of social standing.
He saw Pharisees clamoring for the best place in the house, the seats close to the really important people, and he called them out on it, saying that they should seek the least place at the dinner, until they are invited to be seated in a “better” area. In other words, don’t seek prominence for yourself.
Then, he began to teach them about the Kingdom of God, first by introducing practical teaching.
The Reward of a Generous Heart (Luke 14:12-14)
Jesus made a profound observation about human character here. He also gave insight into God’s perspective.
He told them that when they make a dinner or supper — when they held a feast — they were not to call those they wanted to gain favor with .. whether friends, family, or wealthy people. Those people, He said, would then have to reciprocate, and they would be invited back over, and you would have this cycle...
I invite you.
You feel obligated.
You invite me.
I feel obligated.
I invite you...
In other words, it deadens hospitality to invite with an expectation. But, he told them, “When thou makest a feast, call
-- the poor
-- the maimed
-- the lame
-- the blind”
And you will be blessed.
-- the rich
-- the athletic
-- the able
But, the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. Those are the people Jesus said to invite.
These were the very people that society excluded back then.
The poor couldn’t throw you a party in return.
The maimed and lame and blind couldn’t work and were dependent on the generosity of others.
Those with disabilities were looked on as people who “deserved” the disabilities.
They weren’t the people you invited to parties. They weren’t the people you tried to hang around. They weren’t people who could do you any good if you needed a city contract or help with a building permit. They didn’t get invited.
They couldn’t reciprocate. They didn’t have money or social status to throw a party of their own; they wouldn’t say, “Thanks for the great meal; let’s do this at my house next week.”
But, Jesus offered something better. He told the Pharisees that in return for showing hospitality to those who couldn’t return it, “thou shalt be blessed” — that God Himself would reciprocate with blessing and reward at the Resurrection.
What would you rather have? The approval and reciprocation of “important people”? The ear of the mayor, or the governor, or the President?
Or the blessing of God on your life? The ultimate reward of pleasing God?
Jesus promises that when we act out of a generous heart, we are ultimately rewarded by God himself.
God’s Generous Invitation (Luke 14:15-20)
A man who heard this lesson said to Jesus, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God,” perhaps seriously reflecting on ultimate rewards or perhaps trying to get the subject back to “spiritual” and off of “practical” matters. Either way, Jesus gave this parable that speaks of the Kingdom:
1. Many were invited into the kingdom feast (Luke 14:16)
This is a picture of the Kingdom of God. Many people have been invited -- “many are called but few are chosen.” Adam Clarke compared this to the Roman army, where every citizen was expected to show up to offer himself for military service, but only a few were proven as physically and mentally worthy of the office. So it is in the Kingdom — all are invited to the feast, but not all respond to the invitation.
2. Those who were invited made excuses with one consent (Luke 14:18-20)
There was an organized effort to avoid the kingdom feast. They weren’t avoiding it for legitimate reasons; they intentionally collaborated to offend the host by refusing His invitation.
This was, of course, a picture of the Pharisees — refusing to enter the Kingdom of God and even coming to the point of killing the Son of God — but it is also a picture of a world in agreement that other things are more important than coming to this Kingdom Feast.