Summary: Anyone who has watched "Seinfield" on TV has probably heard the catch phrase "No soup for you." But Jesus tells a parable about a group of people who hear that catch phrase all to clear.
Excuses. We all have them. We make excuses for our actions. We make excuses for our lack of actions. We make excuses for our words. Basically we are good at making excuses.
The Metropolitan Insurance Company has published a list of the excuses they were given for auto accidents
(1) “An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car, and vanished.”
(2) “The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him.”
(3) “I had been driving for 40 years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had the accident.”
(4) “The other driver was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.”
(5) “I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.”
SOURCE: David O. Dykes
Today we will be sitting with Jesus as He teaches us a lesson about humility, excuses, and grace. We find this story in Luke 14. Jesus was invited to have dinner on the Sabbath day at the home of a leader of the Pharisees. Now most Pharisees did not care too much for Jesus but there where a few, Nicodemus for one, who had began to embrace his teachings. Usually though it was a set-up.
The first thing Jesus noticed is indifference.
Luke 14:2-3 “There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, ‘Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?’”
Jesus is observing the crowd when he spots a man whose arms and legs are swollen. There is a condition called lymph edema that causes these symptoms. Perhaps that what he was suffering from. Jesus looks at his host and the host’s friends and, to paraphrase, asks, “Is it okay for me to heal this guy today?” No one said a word. So Jesus healed him.
He then asks, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath?” That’s like asking a pastor if he works on Sunday or not. Of course some people think that’s the only day a pastor works. Not an answer from anyone. “If you saw your son in a pit, would you get him out? How about your cow?” His point here was He saw a child of God in need and He met it. They would have even done it for a cow so He did not need their judgment.
The next thing Jesus noticed is pride. As He was observing the other guests He noticed how they were all scrambling to sit at the head of the table. These were considered the seats of honor. Anybody that was anybody would sit in these prestigious seats. So He gives them some advice. He says “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! (Luke 14:8-9)
Years ago an ex-baseball player called Mr. Baseball did a Miller Lite commercial. His name was Bob Yuker. The commercial shows him making his way to some box seats while bragging about getting his tickets from someone in the front office. No more does he get seated when an usher comes by and says “Come on buddy. You’re in the wrong seat.” As he stands he proudly announces to everyone around him, “I must be going to the front row.” The next scene shows him in the nose bleed section of the stadium with no one else near him.
Jesus continues “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:10-11)
A couple of years ago Debbie and I went to see Neal Diamond in concert. We could not afford the tickets that would have allowed us to sit in the first row. But let’s say we made our way to the front and claimed two seats. When the rightful owners of those seats arrived we would have been escorted from the area in front of everyone.
Instead we had bought the tickets we could afford. They were basically in the rafters. When we arrived we were diverted to a table. There we were informed that Mr. Diamond had requested that the section we were in be closed and we were to have closer seats as his guest. We were escorted to seats about half way toward the stage. We were honored.