Jesus at a Pharisee’s House
The Pharisees kept inviting Jesus to their homes in hopes of gathering evidence against him in order to nullify his radical claims. Maybe that’s why a ‘Prominent Pharisee’ would host a grand luncheon on a Sabbath and break the very same law that he was accusing Jesus of violating. The age-old saying of “Keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer” seems apt while describing the mindset of these Pharisees.
Then a man suffering from dropsy came to Jesus wanting to be healed from his sickness. Jesus knew the objections the Pharisees and temple leaders had raised in the past regarding healing on Sabbath and knew that this was the opportunity his hosts were looking for.
“Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?”– Luke 14:4
When the Pharisees did not answer, Jesus healed the man and sent him on his way. Then he turned his attention back to the Pharisees.
“If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” – Luke 14:5
The Pharisees put restrictions on certain kinds of work and Jesus was bringing their hypocrisy to light. When our earthly possessions are in peril, we break all rules to ensure their safety but when it comes to drawing near to God they preached that you have six days to do that. Maybe they really thought that God was resting on the sabbath.
Places of Honor
While speaking to them Jesus noticed how the guests were taking seats in a prime location, next to the host or other influential Pharisees present there. Jesus quickly broke into another sermon regarding humbling ourselves.
“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor” – Luke 14:8
Usually, when we go to a wedding reception we look to be seated at the table with our friends and relatives. At an office event, we would like to be seated close to our bosses. If we find that the host has placed us at a table right at the end we feel humiliated. Especially in a wedding, where the seating arrangement signifies how closer you are to the groom or bride.
Jesus wants us to take the seat of least importance and thereby build up an attitude of humility within us. In the parables of Jesus, a wedding feast would usually represent the kingdom of God. So, in the kingdom of God, let us humbly accept the task that Jesus has assigned to us without grumbling. Let us not be like James and John who were worried about their seating arrangements in heaven and were not focused on their task at hand.
The Parable of the Great Banquet
“A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses” – Luke 14:16-18
The man sent out two invitations. One perhaps a few weeks before the banquet and another on the day of the banquet by sending his servants in-person to invite the guests. The guests had probably RSVP’d the first invite but later had a change of heart and began fabricating reasons for not being able to attend the banquet.
Sometimes we commit ourselves to Christ after a revival meeting or a Church service but later back out giving excuses. Jesus was talking about the Jews who were in the fold of God but rejected the final invitation when God sent Jesus. Similarly, we are rejecting the final invitation and want to experience God from afar.
Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ – Luke 14:23-24
God has called Gentiles and people from other faith to enjoy the kingdom and we will have no share in them due to us taking God’s invitation for granted.
The Cost of Being a Disciple
If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:26
Does Jesus really want us to hate our family and friends? The man from the previous parable loved his new bride more than God and rejected the invitation to the banquet. Jesus was able to deny his family and friends before setting out to do God’s work. Though his family was a continuous thorn in his side, Jesus would surely not want us to hate our families as he preached on the lines of loving even our enemies. Jesus simply means that we must put God above everyone else. Our love for God should dwarf the love for our families.
Jesus wanted to ensure that his followers, present and future, would fully understand the cost of being a disciple of God. He gave an example of a man who set out to build a tower and a King going to war, without fully estimating the cost it would take to accomplish their respective missions. Both ended in failure and humiliation as they both underestimated what it would take to achieve their goals.
The two examples teach us that only those who are fully prepared will be able to follow Jesus. It is not easy and Jesus is making sure people realise that.
People fill out pledge cards and commit their lives without understanding the gravity of their new task. They take baptisms, confirmations and even communions without realising what they are doing. There were many disciples who abandoned Jesus (present and future) citing his teaching as too harsh.
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. – Luke 14:34-35
Dead sea salt usually contained impurities and was not usable. This example would have been understood by Jesus’ audience as the very purpose for which they used salt was not fulfilled. Similarly, the purpose for which God created us is not being fulfilled if we continue ignoring our call.