Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pentecost 14 - Proper 17

Pentecost 14 – Proper 17
Luke 14:1, 1-14
Luke 7:12-14

Look who’s coming to dinner?

According to our Gospel lesson a humble person takes the lowest place and invites the needy. Most people invite friends and associates to dinner. They are people we enjoy, or people with whom we want to develop closer relations. Often we invite people because they first invited us, and we return the courtesy. The more prominent and more important the guests are the more honor they bring to us. In this parable Jesus teaches we should do the opposite – invite the humble, the unimportant, and the poor who can not return the favor. This calls for a reversal of the usual attitude that most people have. What does it take to invite the lowly? It takes both humility and grace.

1. Humility – To invite those who can bring us no advantage. Romans 12:16 - Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

A. Humility is one of the great laws of the kingdom. It shows us what we are we are only by the grace of God.

B. Do not be proud / puffed up if you achieve some success. When you do you will surely be humbled and made aware of your insignificance.

C. One commentator (Farmer) but it this way, “humble we must be as to heaven we go…high is the roof there. But the gate is low.”

D. Deeds of charity we do should not be done merely because we expect to be rewarded in heaven. True love is unselfish; it shows kindness not to be rewarded, but because of a desire to do good to the one who loved. “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love you enemies, do good, and lend, hope for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” – Luke 6:32-35

Transition: What does it take to invite the lowly? It takes both humility and grace.

2. Grace – To invite people because they are unworthy and cannot help us. We get nothing out of it. It is pure grace – love to the undeserving. Compare this with our situation and the heavenly dinner. Christ invites us – poor, dirty, naked – without any merit or worthiness to be in His presence at His table in the Kingdom.

A. To experience the grace of God means we are blessed. Blessed is a powerful word. In the New Testament, when used of persons, it always refers to the condition of the repentant, fruitful believer in Jesus. Jesus says in His Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be glad. For indeed your reward is great in heaven. For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.”

B. The Lord in Revelation 14:13 defines who the blessed are as He reminds us that their deeds will follow them, Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ “Yes.” Says the Spirit, “that they may rest form their labors, and their works follow them.” True good works cannot be rewarded by men after one dies. But these works will be rewarded “at the resurrection of the just”, those justified by faith. The love and good works which Jesus here asks are the fruits of faith produced by the righteous alone.

Jesus condemns self-righteousness and selfishness. Both are works of the flesh. With these two illustrations Jesus deftly preached what we call the second use of the law. He shines the mirror of God’s truth He lays the sin of His hearers bare for all to see. This is not always pleasant for it exposes our true nature. Yet He did it because He loves us. As we respond to others we have no other way to respond other then with mercy and grace.

A genuine humble person will take the lowest place at a dinner and invite the needy to fellowship. Pride wants only the prominent and eminent of guests. Genuine humility is expressed by the way we reach out to others. Make no mistake; this is more then mere manners. Christ is the one who humbled Himself even to the point of death. He bore our sins and took our misery to Himself that in exchange for our sin we might receive the righteousness of God. If this is how the Savior has treated us, how much more should we demonstrate the same hospitality to others.

Face of Christ

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