How many times have you seen this motto hanging on the wall in a Christian home? “Jesus Christ is the head of this home, the silent listener to every conversation, the unseen guest at every meal.” These are worthy sentiments, and the consciousness of these truths would make us easier to live with at home. But I wonder how many of us would really want Jesus Christ at our table? He can be a very dangerous guest! A Pharisee discovered that fact when he invited the Lord to his home for a Sabbath breakfast. The Lord’s table talk was anything but idle conversation. During that meal, Jesus told several parables (climaxing with the Parable of the Great Supper), and in these parables He taught several important lesson
A Lesson in Sympathy (14:1-6)
As Jesus and the other guests were gathering, a man with dropsy stood immediately in front of Jesus, as if to attract attention. We are not sure whether the man wandered in off the street or whether the Lord’s enemies planted him there to trap Him. The rabbis and lawyers made a big case out of the question, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” If Jesus did not heal the man, He was showing unconcern and lack of compassion, but if He did heal the man, He was violating the Sabbath. What would He do?
It is sad to think these religious leaders may have been using this afflicted man as a tool to fulfill their evil purposes. They had no real concern for the man. They were openly exposing his handicap and deliberately creating a problem for him, and he could do nothing about it. Yet in our own modern civilization are there not times when we exploit people and use their weaknesses to our advantage? Jesus never did that. In this case, He took the man, healed him, and let him go. And then He defended His actions with a parable about the ox (or “son” in some versions) and donkey in the well. With the parable, Jesus was asking, “Should you treat your animals better than I treat a man made in God’s image?” In other words, “If the Sabbath is a holy day, then let it be filled with holy deeds!” Many people do treat their pets better than they treat the members of their own families. Brothers and sisters will fight each other, using all kinds of abusive language, but hug and kiss the family dog or cat and treat it like a king or queen. Sad to say, adults will do the same things. More money is spent on dog food in the than on foreign missions. I am not suggesting that the dogs go hungry, but I am concerned that people stop treating animals like people and people like animals.
A Lesson in Humility (14:7-11)
While He was healing the man, Jesus had watched the guests assemble and fight for the best seats. The Pharisees always wanted the best seats at the feast (Matt. 23:6), and their guests followed their bad example. We laugh at this, but the same mad scramble goes on today. There are more status seekers and pyramid climbers in churches and other Christian organizations that we care to admit. The competition can be strong as Christians argue over who has the greatest church, the biggest Sunday School, or the most sacrificial missionary program.
This mad scramble for the top seats only shows how false is our view of success. As if where a man sits can change the man! “Try not to become a man of success,” said Albert Einstein, “but rather try to become a man of value.” Paul sat in prison while Nero sat on the throne of the Roman Empire, yet no one doubts who was the better man. The cream my rise to the top in milk, but often the flotsam and jetsam rise to the top on the sea of life.
In order to get the best seats, these status seekers had to climb over other people, using them like rungs on a ladder just to achieve what they thought was success. In His parable, Jesus pointed out the pitfalls in this philosophy of life. To begin with, we are not in charge of the seating, the host is. “But God is the Judge; He puts down one, and exalts another” (Ps. 75:7, NASB). Any status we achieve by our own push is temporary, and it could turn out to be very embarrassing.
© 2006 Warren W. Wiersbe
© 1989 by The Good News Broadcasting Association, Inc. All rights reserved.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).