Places at His Table

A man got used. This man was just stumbling about. He fell again and again. His bruised body was hard to look at.

Nothing worked for him as his disease progressed. He spent some days begging, others he just laid around.

Few were willing grant any aid to him. He was viewed as cursed as were most people struggling with such maladies.

And then came his lucky day.

He just happened to be around when a sinister plan was set in motion against the Savior of the world. This outcast was thrust into the midst of a game of “gotcha” directed toward Jesus.

The eyes of the Pharisees were on the Man from Nazareth. His messages and His ways were touching the people. They couldn’t deny that a powerful movement had begun.

He had to be stopped. What He was doing threatened the fragile arrangement that existed with the Roman Empire.

Hero status was being foisted upon the Son. Already He was being viewed by some as the ultimate political solution. The miracle feedings He had done prompted cries of Jesus for King. Who wouldn’t support someone who could fill thousands of bellies through the offering of a prayer?

The buzz about Him was getting louder and louder. This kind of talk was bound to bring big trouble.

Envy and insecurity infected the attitudes of the religious leaders who were allowed limited power to govern the Jewish population in the region surrounding Jerusalem. Their comfortable and well-positioned livelihoods hung in the balance.

Entrapment became the mode of operation for these leaders. Something had to be staged, arrangements made to get Jesus to do what He does best, which was to act out of love and compassion. These actions were the only means to bring Him in.

The Setup

In Luke 14, we read of Jesus getting an invitation to a Sabbath feast, at a chief Pharisee’s home. Strangely, this most infirm man was also in attendance. He suffered from dropsy – a debilitating disease that swells limbs and joints and eventually makes moving about practically impossible.

Why was this guy here? He was a pawn in the plot, invited just to prompt a healing moment from Jesus.

And the Son did not disappoint. He smelled out the scheme, it seems to me. He asked those in the room a simple question: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?”

All remained quiet as the Savior healed the man and sent him off.

Another such work on the Sabbath was now on the books. This would be reported and added to the bevy of ritual violations the Son had accumulated to that point.

The case against Jesus was being built and soon the evidence would lead to the hauling of Him before the high priestly court on charges. From there, these leaders sensed that they could shuffle Him to Roman authorities as a significant threat to the peace and security of the Empire.

Still, Jesus healed this man. He was made well because the Lord had a heart for him.

Heart was something missing inside these religious leaders. They treated the man with contempt, using him as they would an ox or a donkey on their land.

To the Son, that man was the most honorable one in the whole room. He made this clear as He continued the conversation with those present on this Sabbath meal.

Lessons from the Son

You see Jesus would not let this scene pass without taking time to speak the Truth, even to a collection of hostile witnesses. He was at a dinner party so He used the occasion to cast forth a couple parables about wedding feasts.

The first lesson took aim at those who lived puffed-up lives. These ones, Jesus said, arrive at a reception and jockey for the prime seats in the room.

But then the script flips when those more worthy of honor show up to the feast. Those who hogged the high places and sat all satisfied at the head of the table were soon displaced. In embarrassment, they were escorted to the lowest room.

This will happen to those who choose to make themselves first, Jesus said. A time was coming when “whosoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (see Luke 14:11).

Feasts should be about hospitality, real hospitality, Jesus said. In other words, the room should be filled with people suffering as the man healed from his dropsy suffered. “…When you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and you shall be blessed, for they cannot recompense you: for you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:13-14).

Ones who sense their need respond to the Gospel. Their broken hearts ache to be healed. They are so ready to take the places made for them. Click To Tweet

Ones who sense their need respond to the Gospel. Their broken hearts ache to be healed. They are so ready to take the places made for them.

Others, however, are dismissive. Jesus made this point in His next story about “… a certain man who made a great supper and invited many … saying, ‘Come, for all things are now ready’” (Luke 14:16-17).

How was this man answered? With excuse after excuse after excuse.  One had to look at a piece of property. One had to check out the oxen he had just bought. Another had to take care of his wife.

The news came back to the man putting on the supper. This angered him, for an invitation to such a feast represented quite a privilege.

Jesus’ words were directed at the religious ones sitting about Him. God had provided for His chosen people to a great degree with deliverances and manna and water and miracles. And, yet, they found other things to which to give their attention. They had lost sight of the Presence of God and His purpose for them. They were busy about all the wrong things, and they shunned the neediest among them.

The Kingdom of God, Jesus declared, was being opened to all. The afflicted and enslaved werewelcome at His Table of Grace. “… Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come to come in, that My House may be filled” (Luke 14:23).

A full house, a full table – that’s what Jesus is after. And those who most want to be there will answer His call to them.

Answering the Call

Jesus was the clear in the closing part of this chapter and being one of His followers is not an easy choice to make. He makes strong statements about how worship of Him must take precedence.

What does it take to truly be His disciple? Jesus set the standard pretty high.

“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” (Luke 14:26-27).

Hate is a strong word, a hard word to digest. But Jesus seeks those who will put Him and His purposes first. Don’t think of this as an emotional word. Love God above all things and in this you will love others in the right measure.

We are called to be the salt in this world. We flavor it with our testimony and preserve it with our hope and prayers. We know that one day all things will be made new.

We await that joyful moment when we take our seats at the great table, the one set for theMarriage Supper of the Lamb.

Steve Andrulonis
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