Series:  Life Lessons from Dr. Luke

Sermon: The Dinner Guest From Hell

Luke 14: 1-24


Introd.  Have you ever had a dinner guest that just didn’t work out so well and when they left, you said:  wow, glad that’s over. 

          Maybe one who shows up late, talks all the time or rails against your political party or is always one upping you – As you tell them a story – they always have one better and then they won’t leave.   In Luke 14 we have Jesus being a dinner guest and it didn’t work out too well for the host.  


Read text.  

Insults their religion  vs. 1-6

He was at the home of a prominent Pharisee – a person of means – power – influence.  Most of us would say:  I hope I don’t do anything to offend this person. 

. . . in the midst of roasted lamb comes a broken man with a great need –Dr. Luke identifies it as dropsy – a retention of fluids in the legs -  The homes at this time often had open courtyards where people walking by could see you and be seen. Needs to be healed. One problem - it was on the Sabbath –(one of five different times in scripture where Jesus did not follow the law of the Sabbath) Jesus was quite aware of the prohibition of no work on the Sabbath including helping someone. But he heals him anyway. 


It was an insult to their religion – kind of like inviting a Jewish family over for pork bbq.; offering a beer to a Mormon, discussing the latest medical advancements with a Christian Scientist.  Social faux paux    

None of us regardless of our religion likes for it to be insulted.  Buddhist, Muslim, Jew or Christian we don’t like to have our beliefs mocked.  In evangelism you never get anywhere insulting someone else’s point of view. It causes us to stiffen and become defensive. But they said nothing.

Insults the guests vs. 7-11

Just as in the synagogue, there was a pecking order to how you sat at the table – the table would have been low – no chairs – in a large U shape.  The host at the center of the U and the further out you were, the less important. 


When the dinnerbell rang, everyone made a beeline for the best seats.  But what if someone of greater importance bumped you from your spot.  Humiliating.   Jesus suggests:  why not take the least seat and then if you are bumped, it’s an honor.   He in effect calls them prideful and arrogant. 


Insults the host  vs. 12-14 

In the first century, the ability to host a party was a way to curry favor over someone – put them in your debt.  Why are you only inviting the people on the in group – why not invite those who can’t repay you.  When I am invited out to dinner, it is not socially acceptable to question the host of the people he invited to eat with you.  Why did you invite John?  Why didn’t you invite Jim?  He implies prejudice on the part of the host.  The best hospitality is that which is given not exchanged.


So now Jesus performs the trifecta of insulting their  religion, the guests and the host   Not surprisingly this is the last recorded time in Luke where Jesus is invited to the house of a Pharisee.


By this time, things are getting rather tense so a man tries to break the tension by saying:  “blessed is the man who eats at the feast in the kingdom of God”  or translating it into today:  isn’t heaven going to be great.  You have to admire him for trying.  How about those Bucs? 


Jesus responds by telling them a story.  A parable  - not a real event but one in which the hearers could identify.


A rich man was giving a banquet – two invitations – one days in advance and then a second one on the day of the feast when everything was ready; since no one had watches, after the banquet was prepared, he sent his servants – go invite the important people to come and eat with me.  And they all began to make excuses. 


          Bought a field  have to go see it.  You mean the field isn’t going to be there tomorrow for you to see.  You’ve already bought it  - did you buy it sight unseen.  Business obligations.

          Bought five oxen – try them out.  Wealthy person – possessions  what’s the urgency  can’t try them out tomorrow already bought them.

          Got married – I can’t come  family obligations

Custom that for one year after you got married, didn’t have to work   opposite  have to work two jobs


It is not that these are unimportant –reasonable excuses.  What the parable is saying to us is this:  There are many important things in life but the most important thing is God.  It’s a matter of priorities.  We aren’t legalists – there are times when those things need to be dealt with but when Jesus invites you to come – you come.


Now you can imagine the embarrassment of the host – great feast prepared – everyone backs out.

Host says: vs. 21 Go wherever it is necessary to get people to come:  look at the new guest list:  poor, crippled, blind and lame. Not the A list for the first century dinner party.  Note. Vs. 13

His goal; that his house may be full. 

Certainly could be applied in a physical sense, the parables of Jesus were meant to bring spiritual understanding. 


Vs. 24 So no one who was originally invited made it to the banquet.

But Jesus was not the dinner guest from hell, he was the dinner guest from Heaven. 


What does this story mean for us in 2011?   


First:  Don’t invite Jesus unless you want to hear the truth.

He didn’t go to the banquet with the idea – how can I make these people mad? How can I insult them? He loved them enough to tell them the truth. 

Jesus wants a relationship with you but he says to us:  I won’t just tell you what you want to hear, I’ll tell you the truth.

So many times we want to accept Christ and then ask him to approve of a sinful lifestyle – our sinful attitudes and habits that are prohibited by His word. 

Times when he will say:  yes I love you but that is wrong.


Yes our sins are forgiven but Christianity is more than a life insurance policy.  Salvation is entering into a Jesus directed life.  The truth is:  we all need some pruning now and then.  All need to be confronted occasionally. We all need to compare our lifestyle to what Jesus expects us as his children. 

He is telling these Pharisees, you are so legalistic, you are missing the main point – majoring on minors the important thing is a relationship with God.  In these stories he tells them you have your priorities all wrong – mixed up in your theology.  Here’s the truth.


Second  Vs. 11  If you want to be somebody, serve somebody.   

If you are trying to impress people with how important you are, God is not impressed.  He is not impressed with the money you have, the friends you have or the position you have.  He is not impressed with your dinner guest list.

What does impress God is the way you serve somebody. 


If you want somebody to value you, serve them.  That is true in marriage, in your job, in your social interactions and in your relationship with God.

When you start treating people as if you are better than them, you breed arrogance and resentment. 


The more secure you are in your self worth, the more you are able to serve. You don’t have to have others tell you how wonderful you – you are secure in Christ.  Free to serve.  Someone says:  what is he doing waiting tables, it doesn’t bother you.   John 13 Jesus gave us the greatest example in performing the act of a servant – washing the feet of the disciples.  When it is done in the name of Jesus, there is no task beneath a Christian. 


As we did an evaluation about a year ago of our congregation, our staff had to ask some tough questions:  are the people of Bayside just here so they can receive or are we hear to be trained to serve.  There has to be a balance but it is our goal as the leadership of Bayside to eventually help everyone to do something in service to others.  Both internally in Bayside or externally in our communities.   


Third  vs. 13-14  blessings are sometimes delayed

Sometimes when we do the right thing, we are immediately rewarded.  Sometimes the reward comes much later and at times not even in this lifetime but in the one to come.


Matt. 6 talks about three spiritual disciplines:

          Vs. 2  when you give, don’t announce it

          Vs. 5  when you pray, don’t do it so people will be awed by your big words

          Vs. 16  when you fast, don’t look somber

 Those aren’t sinful things to do when you give, pray or fast they’re just stupid. 

In all three of those instances when you do the first; he says that’s all the reward you get. . . temporary stuff.

But when you give with a heart of generosity; when you pray with a sense of earnestness, when you fast with a sense of humility – God sees it and will reward you in ways you can’t imagine and may never see in this life but there is an eternal reward that is reserved for you.  


Four:  take your seat while you can because the table will be full vs. 23-24 

If you say no to the banquet, the master may give your spot to someone else.  Absentees are not guaranteed a seat in the future. Vs. 24 

I certainly don’t mean to imply that God doesn’t offer us second chances in life – he does – he is the God of mercy and grace and is patient with us but there will come a time when the door will be shut just like on the ark and just like at the banquet. 


You are free to turn down the invitation but all decisions come with consequences.  The owner was angry at the rebuffs by the invited people.  If there is one person I don’t want angry at me it’s God.   If God calls us to obedience and we blow him off, it displeases God.  


In the immediate context of this story, when the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah, God said:  I want my house full – invite the gentiles.  God keeps asking til his house fills up.  God wants every seat in this sanctuary filled every week.  Not for our sake but His. 

This is God’s feast – he is the one who gives the invitation.

Why does God want his house full?

          Wants hurting people helped

          Broken people made whole

          Fearful people to learn faith

          Downtrodden people to find hope

          Wants lonely people to find companionship

          Wants redeemed people to celebrate their joy

That happens best in a context of loving and caring people who are in the house of the Lord.


Rev. 3:20 Jesus says I am standing at the door of your heart – knocking – asking if it is ok that I come into your life – if you open the door, I’ll come in and fellowship with you


Have you accepted Jesus invitation to the banquet?