Friday, November 23, 2012

#4 The royal son's feast (Luke 14:1-24)

Jesus’ journey to the cross continues as he illustrates through events and teachings what it means to be part of his kingdom, to enter into renewed relationship with his Father.

Luke shows Jesus coming eating and drinking with people (7v34). Meals are at the heart of his ministry. Meals are a place of friendship, of deeper relationship. If you’re struggling to talk to people about Jesus, or about anything that’s not trivia, trying eating with people. Get hold of Tim Chester’s A Meal with Jesus to explore this further.

Jesus takes the opportunity of a meal to talk about a greater meal, the banquet in the Kingdom of God. His teaching uses the way people respond to invitations and the way they take their seats as a way to expose their hearts towards him. Jesus often eats with tax collectors and sinners, but here he’s at the house of a leading Pharisee (14:1), and they’re watching him.

The King challenges those at this meal about the way they withhold good from people. They’re left speechless by his challenges to them. They have no defence, he’s right. Observing the guests he challenges their pride as they take the best seats at the take, the point isn’t which seat they’re in but what that shows about their hearts.

Ezekiel 21:26 says “Exalt that which is low, and bring low that which is exalted” a saying that is commonly cited in the New Testament. Proverbs 25:6,7 sets Jesus’ parable in the royal court, “Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.”

This isn’t just about generally being humble, but teaching what it means to have been invited by Jesus to his wedding feast. Come, in humility not in pursuit of greatness. Simply receive.

Next Jesus speaks to the host. The temptation is to invite those who can pay you back with an invitation.Jesus exposes my heart – the way that I act to glorify and advance myself ahead of others, this is an obstacle to me having life in the kingdom of God. Instead of doing this, the host should invite those who have no hope of ever inviting the host back for a meal. Why does Jesus say this? He is showing the host what the Kingdom of God is like. In the Kingdom, Jesus the Son invites people who are helpless, who could never repay. Rather he invites them because he is full of grace. So even something as small as an invitation to a meal demonstrates the key to the kingdom.

You can tell kingdom people, they give hospitaility without any hope of receiving anything in return because this is how God has treated them in Jesus.

And God will even reward this kingdom generosity at the resurrection. One of the guests sees how amazing it will be to eat at the kingdom feast (15). Jesus teaches another parable as a warning to those at this meal.

There are those who are invited to the kingdom who pass up the opportunity for all kind of reasons.

They presume to have better things to do than to feast in the kingdom with the King. His offer is somehow beneath them. They don’t need it, they have better things to do.

The host is furious at this (21) and calls for wider invitations to be issues to those who are poor, crippled, blind and lame. And then further invitations so that the house will be filled but those who were first invited fail to taste the banquet.

Our lives will reveal our hearts. Do we have the kingdom priorities of Jesus.

Sinfully we don’t think it’s good to help people, we pursue personal gain and push ourselves ahead of others, and we presume to know better than Jesus. As Jesus teaches about his kingdom his gospel is an invitation to be helped, to take the lowest seat and to trust Jesus’ invitation and so to taste his feast.

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