Jesus is the Son of Man
How we treat (and see) others
(Note: It has come to my attention that my sermon posts from Nov ’21 through the begining of Feb ’22 have been lost. So i will be reposting them here, meaning they wont necessarily be in the order they were preached and recorded. THank you for your understanding)
All right! Turn with me, if you will, to Luke chapter 14. As I continue to say, just in case; If you do not have a Bible, or if you are in need of a Bible, please see me after the service and we can work on getting one into your hands.
SO, in our narrative of Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus continuing to travel around, preaching, teaching, performing miracles, showing those who are willing to see that He is the Messiah, the Christ.
He has left Galilee, where he was in the passage, we looked at last week. And what we saw and will continue to see is that Herod last week and many of the pharisees, many other righteous religious folks in Israel at the time, they didn’t like the teaching and the preaching that Jesus was communicating. They didn’t like who he chose to heal or when he chose to do so. It didn’t fit with what they expected and understood from the law and tradition of the Jewish faith of the time.
They thought they knew better. They thought they new it all. They thought that they were better. Jesus’s message was that they were wrong, and they were not better than anyone. And as I mentioned last week, we, as a people, generally do not like being told we are wrong.
So, we are going to spend this week and next at the home of one of the rulers of the Pharisees, at what appears to be a dinner party. And we are going to see Jesus being smart and crafty and sharing hard truths.
So, without further ado, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 14, verses 1 through 11. As usual, I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to grab your preferred translation and follow along as we read the word of God.
Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records:
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. 3 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. 5 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.
7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
May God Bless the Reading of His Word.
So, we start by seeing that trigger word, that word that keys us into an upcoming friction between the Pharisees and Jesus. We see this word, when it’s used in the Gospels, brings us Jesus correcting a lack of understanding, or in this case, I believe, a lack of consistent logic in their thinking. That word, of course, being Sabbath.
On this one Sabbath, Jesus goes to the home of one of the area’s prominent Pharisees and is getting ready have a meal with them. Jesus was always willing to sit with whomever he had the chance in order to share the truth regarding the Kingdom of God. And in this case, he knew he was going to get just such and opportunity.
But first, we see the pharisees watching him closely. They were watching to see if He was going to do something that they thought he shouldn’t be doing. Maybe they even set this scene up. Or maybe not… But it sure seems like they did…
There just happened to appear before Jesus a man with a brutal, painful disease. This man had a disease called dropsy. This was where fluid would collect in the cavities of the body and would have eventually led to death. This is only mentioned in the New Testament in this one place.
Jesus sees this man and instead of addressing him or healing him right away, he turns and addresses the Pharisees, the guests that were there. And this is part of what makes it look to me like this was a setup by the Pharisees and that Jesus knew exactly what was going on.
He asks them, “IS it lawful to Heal on the Sabbath or not?” A simple Yes or No question. A simple, question that they could not answer. Because they truth was that it was not against the Mosaic Law in the scriptures. God did not say it was against the law to heal on the Sabbath. However, the laws and traditions of the elders that had been passed down for generations, said that medical treatment was prohibited on the Sabbath unless the condition was life threatening.
So, they had no actual way to answer this question. I see them like I see our kids, and I know you all know what I’m talking about. When you catch them doing something and you ask them about, but they have no answer, so they don’t answer. They just stay quit, often just kind of looking at the ground or something… That’s how I picture the Pharisees here as Jesus asks them this question.
They had no answer. It was not “against the law,” It was against their rules. Now, we could do this as another sermon on Sabbath healings and the better understanding on what the Sabbath is, but we have done that a few times here in Luke and recently too, back in Luke 13:10-17. But I don’t think that’s actually the point of this passage.
The Pharisees remained silent, and Jesus healed the man and sent him on his way. That’s all Luke says about that. Luke, who was a doctor, does not give any details. Again, I think this is because the healing here was not the actual issue here. Instead, the point of this passage is the hearts and attitudes of the Pharisees.
Jesus addresses this when he brings up what we have to assume is a non-life threatening, hypothetical situation. He says assume your son or your ox falls in a well. They are alive, but are you really gonna wait until tomorrow to try and pull them out?
Now, if you and I disagree, but you have a consistent logic behind your arguments, we can still discuss things and listen to each other and get along. But if one has an inconsistent logic, where you can’t even follow their process in how they come to their conclusions, its like talking to a brick wall.
You can have a valid argument and come to a different conclusion than I do about things. WE can talk. You can have a terrible, illogical, invalid argument and come to the same conclusion that I do. I can’t talk to you.
I think that’s what Jesus was dealing with here. The Pharisees are being inconsistent and hypocritical with their logic. They are saying that these rules that they have enacted are for a certain reason and then they go and undercut those reasons with other traditions and rules that they enact. Jesus is saying you can’t have it both ways.
As it closer for dinner to be served, Jesus watches everyone around him. Jesus is a great noticer. He observates very well. And he looks around and he sees how all these guests are all jockeying for position. They are looking to establish their social standing based on where they will end up sitting.
See, they are each thinking of themselves as best and they figure that if they are at the center of everyone’s view, if they are sitting in the position of honor, then others will all think better of them as well.
Jesus’ message is clear. Don’t assume the best positions. Don’t assume that you are the best and specific to this context, don’t assume that someone who isn’t more prominent than you will not show up as well. It does not matter the criteria that you use, there is always someone above you, better than you, more prominent than you.
Instead, humble yourself. Paul writes Philippians 2:3: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Jesus just said, back in Luke 13:30 that the first will be last and the last will be first. Jesus says elsewhere that he came to serve, not to be served.
And so, set yourself low. This is not about necessarily thinking worse about yourself. Jesus is not trying to get you to beat yourself up and have all your faults weigh yourself down. But think better than you usually would about others. Don’t think of yourself as better than or more righteous than others but think of them as better than you want to.
We have a tendency to think the best of ourselves. We dismiss our mistakes. We justify our sins. We make excuses for our bad days. And we tend to think the worst of others. We judge them by their mistakes. We focus on their bad days and forget the other days. Jesus says turn this around. We are all sinners. There are none righteous, no not one.
When you put others ahead of yourself, you will find yourself blessed. So, Jesus says, sit at the end of the table, in the seat furthest from the place of honor, lowest on the totem pole. When you do that, your host can move you up higher and honor you instead of when you sit higher, and they have to ask you to move down. God humbles the proud and exalts the humble.
Now, when we are trying to put this into action, we have to be careful. This can easily lead to us fooling ourselves or to cases of false modesty and false humility. So, lets be clear. Jesus is not saying that the reason to treat others well is to be rewarded. We are to treat others well for two main reasons. First because we want to. This is what comes with a new heart, when we are new creations in Christ, is a desire to treat others well and to love one another. But also, even when we don’t necessarily want to, we know that it is the right thing to do, whether we get rewarded or not. WE know that all who are born are made in the image and likeness of Christ. They are all made with inherent dignity and worthy of respect. And so, the right thing to do is to treat them as such.
And so, we need to be careful. Continually examine ourselves and our motives. Jesus is clear in the Sermon on the Mount that the action we do, and take are only a part of the story. More important and the rest of the story is the heart with which we do it.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve needed to learn in my life is that the right thing done for the wrong reasons is still wrong. The wrong thing done for the right reasons is still wrong. We need to do the right thing for the right reasons.
Now, Jesus is using the setting of wedding feasts and banquets. This is a common imagery used to be symbolic and to describe the kingdom of heaven, the eternal afterlife with those who are children of God.
That’s what Jesus is really getting at here in this passage, as well as the parable that we will look at next week. Norval Geldenhuys makes the connection here when he writes: Just as at the wedding feast the occupying of seats of honor does not depend on a person’s self-assertive attitude but on the discretion of the host, so also a place of honor in the kingdom of heaven does not depend on self-assertiveness or on a man’s opinion of himself but on the righteous judgement of God.
Jesus sees what’s going on in the world around him, and he sees what’s happening and he uses those things, teaching in parables, to communicate the truth of eternity.
And we all have some of that truth in us. Romans 1 tells us that we know the truth but suppress it in our unrighteousness. But it comes out, here and there. Not enough, in and of itself, to be a saving faith.
But the truth that God has shared with us all drips and spills out in all sorts of ways. As I was studying this week, it struck me just how many stories in our culture and society (and so many other cultures as well) where the hero of the story gets knocked down and knocked down hard. He gets humbled, he gets humiliated. And then, he gets back up, he overcomes. The glory, honor and success come, and our hero saves the day. Just like Jesus…The truth of it comes out in all sorts of pop culture ways.
God humbles the proud and exalts the lowly. IT takes humility to recognize that we have a need for a savior. The proud think they are good enough, that either they have no need for salvation or that they are good enough to save themselves.
The proud are self-sufficient.
The proud don’t need help.
The proud are “better” than those who need help.
The proud are hard hearted.
On the other hand, the humbled, they know they need help.
The humbled know that others need help as well.
The humbled know to look for help.
The humbled are soft hearted
The humbled know that their humbleness doesn’t make them better than the proud.
Jesus is reminding the people at this dinner party what is said in the Old Testament. The scriptures that they had memorized. That they claimed to live by. Proverbs 25:6 & 7 reads:
Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
or stand in the place of the great,
7 for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.
That’s a nice reminder that if we claim to Love God, if we claim to love Jesus and to be a follower of him, we need to study his word and put it into practice. As often as you are able, in whatever ways you are able, study and read Gods Word.
And then look inside yourself, at the heart with which you do the things you do. How you treat and see others is a direct reflection of you, your heart for God and following that all people are image bearers of God and are worthy of dignity and respect. Treat them as such.
Ill leave you once again with Philippians 2:3
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves