BRING IN THE POOR, THE CRIPPLED, THE BLIND, AND THE LAME
Luke 14:1-24, Key Verse: 14:21
“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’”
From last Sunday’s passage, we learned that we must strive to enter through the narrow gate, that is, following Jesus, denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily. Many will try to enter but will not be able to. This tells us it requires not only our human effort but the help of the Holy Spirit in order to follow and build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. May God bless each one of us to hear the voice of Jesus, “Look, I know you, please, come in and enjoy the feast in the kingdom of God!” Amen!
In today’s passage, Jesus reveals his compassion through healing a man with dropsy and giving two parables. In the end, he teaches God’s sovereign plan and his heart for the lost, bringing them to the kingdom of God with the heart of God. There are four parts.
Have compassion and treat a human better than an ox (1-6).
Today’s passage is placed in the house of a prominent Pharisee. Look at verses 1-2. “One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. 2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy.” Again, the event is on the Sabbath. The Pharisees hated Jesus, calling him even the prince of demons, Beelzebul, and Jesus also warned them with many woes. Yet a ruler of the Pharisees invited Jesus to his banquet with other Pharisees and experts in the law. What would you do if you were invited by your haters? I would reject the invitation. but Jesus did not reject it but accepted though he knew they would get rid of him, as he said in the previous passage in verse 31. He was even dining with a group of the haters. Their main accusation of Jesus was that he was breaking their law of the Sabbath, healing people on the Sabbath. Moreover, they brought a man with dropsy who did not fit in the group of people, revealing their evil intention.
Dropsy is a condition in which there is excessive water in a body, causing great pain and even sudden death, usually due to kidney failure first, and lung and congestive heart failure. The man with great pain was standing right in front of Jesus and all others were watching Jesus to see what he would do. Imagine how odd the situation was. They knew that Jesus would heal the man because of his great compassion and his power of healing. It was like a human trap, ready to catch Jesus as soon as he healed the man with dropsy. How would you respond? If I were in Jesus’ shoes, I would heal the man secretly after delicious dinner, avoiding a conflict with these haters. What was Jesus’ response?
Look at verse 3-4, “And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?’ 4 But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away.” Jesus did not back down though the Pharisees were watching and ready to catch him; rather, he challenged them. In fact, there is no law that prohibits healing the sick on the Sabbath. The Sabbath law was given by God for the people of Israel to keep the day holy to God, not to work to make money for themselves instead of worshiping God, repenting of their sins, dedicating themselves to God, and having fellowship with God through giving sin offerings, burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to God. It is the day to worship, praise and listen to God, to serve others and have fellowship with them in the love of God. Breaking the Sabbath comes from loving money more than God.
When Jesus challenged them, they could not even say anything. They were dumbfounded. It may be because they were convicted by the compassionate heart of Jesus. Also, the Pharisaic law permitted healing to save life preventing death. Moreover, Jesus was not doing this for money. In his compassion, Jesus wasted no time in healing the man, and then he sent him away. How happy the man was, when he had no more pain in his heart and body. Then Jesus taught the Pharisees and the experts in the law some common sense. Look at verses 5-6. “And he said to them, ‘Which of you, having a son[a] or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?’ 6 And they could not reply to these things.” Here Jesus is teaching two things; compassion for another person and that a human is worth more than an animal. No doubt, they loved and would save their son immediately, lifting him out of the well on the Sabbath even though they would have to break their law, lifting more than 10 pounds. To them, an ox is too precious to lose. It is like flushing $3,000 down the toilet. A man worth is more than a $3,000 ox. The man with dropsy had been suffering as if he was drowning in water, possibly facing sudden death. Moreover, he was a son of Abraham, precious in the sight of God as well.
But these religious leaders did not have any heart for the suffering man with dropsy, treating him less than an ox. They should have had compassion on this man or at least treated him better than an ox or a human trap to catch Jesus. How could they consider themselves as spiritual leaders? Jesus revealed their hypocrisy and rebuked them indirectly. Even today some Christian leaders have compassion for their dog or cat more than a suffering person. They would not even welcome such needy people. May God help us to have compassionate hearts toward such needy people and examine our hearts whether we treat them better than our dog or cat. Amen!
Be humble and you will be exalted (7-11).
Look at verse 7. “Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them.” Jesus saw another issue at the Pharisees’ house; the guests wanted to sit in the places of honor, probably arguing that they were more honorable than others. This kind of struggle is everywhere, at work, in school, in the political arena, in any society in any race, and even in church. We call it the hegemony struggle. To address this issue, Jesus is giving a parable, giving a fundamental issue and a solution.
Look at verses 8-10. This may be a fundamental problem of most people, considering oneself higher than others. We call it vain conceit or self-glorification. Politicians are experts in doing this, exalting themselves to the maximum degree and putting down their political opponents or even their own party members if they can be raised to a higher level in any way possible. A proud person will try to exalt themselves even though he or she did not do much. They always to try to sit in a higher seat but they will always be humbled by more honorable or recognized people than them. As a result, they will become either sorrowful and depressed when they feel humiliated, or angry when they feel despised for their low status though others were not. We should examine ourselves when we feel depressed and when we are angry when someone gets on our nerves. Jesus gave us the solution; sit in the lowest place. When we consider ourselves nobody, we are at peace even if no one pays attention or someone treats us lower, since we are in the lowest place anyway. If you sit in a higher place than who you are, you will be humiliated when someone comes and asks you to sit in a lower seat, and at best you will keep the place you chose.
Here is the wisest counsel Jesus gave us. The solution is being humble. A human being is born proud; therefore, it takes a toll for anyone to humble themselves, curbing their pride and taking a lower seat than who he or she is. But what happens to a person who humbles themselves? They will be exalted in due time. People would like to put a humble person in a higher place, or at least on a level they should be in, and they also like to put a proud person in a lower level than they should be. How much more will God do as the Bible declares! “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind (12-14).
Now, Jesus turns to the host, who invited many Pharisees and the teachers of the law, Jesus and the man with dropsy. Look at verses 12-14. Jesus also gives advice to the host who invited him. He had invited other prominent people like other neighbor Pharisees and rich neighbors. In the back of his mind, the guests would invite him and serve him as payback. He should instead invite people who could not invite him back as payback. It does not mean that we should not invite our brothers and sisters or relatives because they would invite us back. It means that the motivation of our invitation should be not expecting payback. Why? It is not noble. It questions why we are doing it for. Is it for earthly reasons or heavenly reasons? If we invite others for heavenly reasons, we will be blessed not on earth but at the resurrection for what we did.
Matthew 25:37-40 explains how we live with resurrection faith, saying, “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invited you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,’” If we have faith in the resurrection, we will live for the day of resurrection, inviting the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind, healing and serving their needs. But if we do not have faith in the resurrection, we will treat the needy as burden and send them away. Without resurrection faith, we will try to get everything on earth, living for to our physical glory and earthly things.
Invite people to God’s kingdom with God’s heart (15-24)
Look at verse 15. “When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, ‘Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!’” Maybe he was moved and blessed by Jesus’ message because he was believing in the resurrection of the dead, and maybe he never invited his brothers and sisters, and relatives.
Look at verse 16. “But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.” Apparently, the invited guests accepted the man’s invitation gladly. Look at verses 17-20. The master prepared diligently for the great banquet and sent his servant to the invited guests, saying, “Come, for everything is now ready.” Even though they were invited first, they all made a good excuse not to attend the wedding banquet, saying “I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.” And another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.” And another said, “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’” It is polite way of saying no but lame. They did not consider the banquet as important as their own affairs; their new property or five oxen and their marriage. Why? They did not prepare themselves even though they accepted the invitation from the servant of the master long time ago. They did not honor the man and his invitation. They did not know how precious it is. They were like a child who ate his fill of junk food and is not interested in eating healthy food. In fact, the master made the wedding banquet for the guests. In other books of the gospel, it was God’s invitation, and their rejection was in fact rebellion against him.
How did the master respond to their rejection? Look at verses 21, “So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’” The master wanted to bless and be blessed by many guests. But the first guests who accepted his invitation rejected. All these rich people who would buy fields and five oxen were not interested in the banquet. The king was angry at them but did not cancel the banquet. In fact, he could not cancel it, because it was his son’s wedding. Instead, he extended his invitation to others who were not invited, sending his servant to the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. They all gladly came in to the banquet, but there were still seats left though the servant diligently invited the undeserving. Look at verses 22-23. The master sent his servant again to go out and invite people from the highways and hedges, compelling people to come to the banquet until his house was filled with all kinds of guests. The servant knew that heart of the master and urged, motivated, and persuaded people to come in. They went out to advertise the banquet even to strangers who never heard about the banquet. With the heart of the master, they brought people until the banquet was filled with people.
Here the man who gave a great banquet is God himself. The first invited are the religious leaders of Israel who accepted his invitation to attend the banquet. God wanted them to come first and have the great banquet with him. What blessed privileges they had! What was their response? They were not excited to come to God’s invitation through his servant, all his prophets, and even John the Baptist. Therefore, God extended his invitation to two different kinds of people; the poor, the blind, the crippled and the lame, and people from highways and hedges. The poor, the blind, the crippled and the lame are the commoners like the tax collectors and the fishermen, who are accepted his invitation. Finally, the people from highways and hedges are the gentiles, who were compelled to come to the heavenly banquet. It is the heart of God, who wants to bring as many as guests as possible to the heavenly banquet. The chosen Israelites who were invited rejected God’s first invitation, so God sent his servants to invite the commoners and the gentiles like you and me. If God did not extend his grace and his sovereign plan, no one would be here.
In the same way, now we are the chosen Jews by the grace of God in Christ and if we reject God’s invitation, we will not be able to taste Jesus’ great banquet in the kingdom of God. We know how much God prepared for this banquet through his son and his sacrifice. We have great privileges! Jesus is calling us to go out to all the campus and even the streets, and compel people to come in to His great banquet. Let’s extend the grace of God to others with God’s compassion! Amen!
Through today’s passage, we thought about the four seemingly different topics, and each of them are important. But there are two main themes: the heavenly banquet and the compassion heart of God. We could attend the heavenly banquet only by God’s grace and his sovereign plan. Therefore, we must be humbly serving our King Jesus, inviting people from anywhere and everywhere with the compassionate heart of God until his banquet is filled with people. Amen!