This short study on Luke chapter 14 and 15 is actually highlights of a sermon entitled “Enjoy Jesus’ Supply and Delight His Heart” by Pastor Joseph Prince of New Creation Church, Singapore.
Luke 14 contains some hard sayings by Jesus. For example, verse 26 and 27:
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
Why did Jesus say these? Why did he make discipleship seem so tough? What does he mean by saying all these things.
Pastor Prince see both Luke 14 and 15 as a continuous line up of the different groups of people that Jesus encountered. They are the Pharisees, the party guests, the multitudes, and the sinners and tax collectors. When we compare his reactions and words towards these 4 different groups of people, an interesting pattern emerges.
Pharisees and Party Guests
In Luke 14:1-24, Jesus was at a party threw by a ruler of the Pharisees. It was also the Sabbath day.
Verse 1 already hinted that he wasn’t genuinely welcomed for they were scrutinizing Him.
Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely.
We can also say that Jesus wasn’t comfortable and happy at this party. Who would be when they are closely watched. Jesus reacted to a couple of things at the party. Let’s see what they are:
1. Jesus chided the Pharisees for their legalism (verse 1-6)
And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. Then He answered them, saying, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” And they could not answer Him regarding these things.
Jesus healed a man with dropsy and he knew that the Pharisees were unhappy that he broke the Sabbath law for they kept silent when he asked them whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath.
Why keep silent? They could have either say yes, it is lawful or no, it isn’t lawful. The problem is because healing is such a tricky thing. If they say no, it is not lawful, they appear unkind and heartless, but in their hearts, they disapprove because they are legalistic.
Jesus chided them by comparing the healing to the rescuing of a donkey or ox in a pit. Jesus couldn’t stand their legalism.
2. He spoke out against the party guests’ behavior of choosing the best seats for themselves (verse 7-11)
So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus disliked the way the party guests vy for the best seats in the house for themselves. He saw their pride and he couldn’t stand it.
3. Jesus tell his host to be truly generous (verse 12-15)
Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
After speaking against the party guests, Jesus turned on the host, the ruler of the Pharisees. He saw through his motive of throwing the party. It isn’t out of generosity but out of political motivation. Of wanting something out of it for himself.
4. He told the parable about the Great Supper (verse 17-24)
When he had finished speaking to the host, a man responded by saying the following:
Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
What this man said deeply affected Jesus for He told the parable of the Great Supper to illustrate man’s rejection of God’s bread.
Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”
Look at the excuses. So lame.
- Who buy land before seeing the land first?
- Who buy oxen without testing them first?
- Who marry without seeing the bride first?
In the end, God has to compel people to come to the feast. He went out into the streets and the lanes, the highways and the hedges to force people to come and fill His house. He didn’t just invite, He compelled. What it is about man that they need compelling to receive the blessings of God? Don’t focus on man, focus on God. Why should God bother with man to compel him?
I hope I have demonstrated how unhappy and uncomfortable Jesus was at the party where he met people who were proud and suspicious and fake.
The next 10 verses recorded the encounter he had with the multitudes (Luke 14: 25-35). He said some of the hardest stuff here to the multitudes.
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
“Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Why did he unleash such difficult demands for people who want to follow Him? It seemed that He was deliberately dissuading them from following Him. “Who doesn’t sit down first and count the cost?” He is literally telling them to think carefully. Of the builder, he spoke of mockery. Of the king, he spoke of surrender.
Why? Because amongst the multitudes are people who didn’t see Him as Messiah, they see Him as a banner for their political causes. They see Him as an example to follow. He is telling them that they are wrong. He is turning them away with His demands and this thins the multitudes. He weren’t what they expected so they left.
Tax collectors and sinners
Then, in the beginning of Luke 15, we see the following:
Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.
Now only the tax collectors and sinners drew near. Not that the Pharisees, party guests or multitudes have no sin but these people knew that they were sinful and was looking for salvation. They have nothing to offer Him. They didn’t come to Him looking for a teacher or a king or an example to follow. They came looking for a saviour.
The Pharisees and scribes started to complain:
And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”
What was Jesus’ reactions to their complaints? He told them 3 parables: The Parable of the Lost Sheep, The Parable of the Lost Coin and The Parable of the Prodigal Son.
The essence of the 3 parables is the same. All 3 parables speak to the Lord’s joy when he encounter sinners. In the 3 parables, He never demand any renouncement or counting of costs. He never ask for humility and generosity. The lost was found, and that was sufficient.
What about repentance? Surely the lost or the sinners repented and that’s why God was happy.
Pastor Prince asked, “How did the sheep who was lost repent?” Let’s look at the parable (Luke 15:4-7)
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
We read the parable and then define repentance in terms that we understand. Is that right? How did the sheep repented? Did it do it the way we are taught to do it? No.
Read carefully, the parable focuses on the actions of the man who lost the sheep. He went looking. He found it. He carried it back. He rejoices. He threw a party. What did the sheep do? Nothing except to lay quietly on the man’s shoulder. It didn’t writhe and struggle to get away.
The same spirit of the Lord can be found in the other 2 parables. He was happy when He found sinners. So, why wouldn’t He receive sinners and eat with them?
We have seen Jesus’ reactions to 4 different groups of people – Pharisees, Party Guests, Multitudes and Sinners/Tax Collectors. From chiding to teaching to demanding and rejoicing, can we not notice what delight His heart?
Isn’t He concerned with holiness? Of course he is. But holiness is a result of knowing that we are forgiven unconditionally and not a condition for salvation. I want to be in that group that Jesus eat and party with. Nothing to do, just see Him as saviour.
Download the full message of Enjoy Jesus’ Supply and Delight His Heart from iTunes.
This sermon note is based on my thoughts and understanding of what was preached. It doesn’t represent the opinion and stand of New Creation Church.