WE are again in the country beyond Jordan, listening to the Lord’s words. He was eating bread in the house of a Pharisee on the Sabbath day. The low table had been spread, and couches were placed for the people to recline upon. Some places were thought more honorable than others, perhaps those next the host or near to the chief guests. We should expect that the proud Pharisees who loved the uppermost places at feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues would choose out these places for themselves. We know too what some who were there would think when the Lord healed a sick man, for it was the Sabbath day. Then the Lord taught them in parables while they were with Him about the table.
And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? And they could not answer him again to these things. And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them. When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.—Luke XIV. 1-14.
The only reward we need ask for doing good is the happiness in doing it, which we may enjoy now and which goes with us into heaven. And now the Lord makes the feast a picture of heaven and all the good things that He prepares for us there. He desires to give everybody these blessings, but we are very slow to make the little sacrifice and effort that are needed to receive them. Our carelessness about the blessings of heaven which the Lord has made ready is shown by the excuses of those who were bidden to the feast and would not come.
And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. 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 hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.—Luke XIV. 15-24.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
The Lord’s eating with the people >> The receiving of gifts and abilities from the Lord and the use we make of these endowments
To choose a chief place >> To feel proud and self-sufficient
Parables of the great supper >> Helping others in the use of the Lord’s gifts, natural and spiritual
Three excuses in the parable of the great supper >> Successively stronger grip by natural and evil things, which makes it more and more difficult and finally impossible to leave them
I have bought a piece of ground >> Youthful interest in opportunities of the world which may keep one from interest in spiritual things
I have bought five yoke of oxen >> Affections for natural use and pleasure exerting a strong pull away from spiritual life and heaven
I have married a wife >> The union of falsity and evil in a confirmed evil life that keeps one far from spiritual life and heaven
None shall taste of my supper >> They will not be conjoined with the Lord in the glory of heaven
Pictures: James Tissot —-Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum