Our passage today sees a mix of Jesus’s ministry of miracles and teaching. Jesus often taught in parables, and the purpose of parables are to expose the hearers to where they stand with God. The first 6 verses of chapter 14 show the Pharisees questioning Jesus’s healing of a man with dropsy on the Sabbath. In verse 3, he says, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” and goes on to say in verse 4, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” Jesus is mainly attempting to expose the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. The Pharisees followed the letter of the law, but not the heart of it. Basically, by following the letter of the Sabbath “law” the Pharisees were ignoring the greater command to love people.
The narrative then goes into a parable about parties with three sections. The first (verses 7-11) served the purpose of showing how pride is the opposite of what the Kingdom requires. The lesson, found in verse 11, is a verse you’ve probably heard before: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Humility is a mark of the Kingdom.
The second section (verses 12-14), is meant to prove that how we treat people reflects our motivations. Have you ever wanted to be friends with someone because they increased your status in some way? Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being friends with people who benefit us, but we should be aware that we can have a tendency to want something from our friends more than we are willing to give something for our friends.
The last section (verses 15-24), serves as a warning to those who expect a place in the Kingdom without trusting the King. We can really read this exclusion as a picture of how the Kingdom will be open to all who believe in Jesus, not just those who have a Abrahamic family line (meaning that Gentiles [non-Jews] would be in the Kingdom).
Jesus wants all of our hearts. When we read the Parables, we should read them with a sense of the seriousness of what it takes to live them out, while trusting that Jesus perfectly lived them out on our behalf. Jesus perfectly lived both the heart and the letter of the law; Jesus’s humility led to Him being exalted; Jesus selflessly loved us; Jesus provided the sacrifice needed for sinners to enter the Kingdom. My encouragement to you is to lean into both the saving and transforming grace of Jesus.
What is one thing that stood out to you from our passage today? Leave us a comment below!
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice