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Luke 14 and the Theology of Suffering & Disability

Beyond Suffering  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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What does Luke 14 teach us about extending the kingdom of God to the disabled?

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Introduction to “Exegesis”

Exegesis is the practice of discovering the meaning of a text in its original cultural, literary, historical, and theological contexts. “We must know what the passage means before we can ask what it means for us.” We do exegesis by using hermeneutics, the rules and principles for interpreting scripture.
Exegesis is important because it keeps us from arriving at false applications or doctrines from the text. For instance, we might come away from with a teaching that God wants everyone to be healed, since Jesus healed the man with Dropsy. Equally wrong would be to come away with the teaching that God wants us to only minister to the disabled. That is not what this pericope is primarily about, although it’s teaching has an application to our ministry to the disabled, the suffering, and those at the most vulnerable segment of our society.

Healing on the Sabbath

Cast of Characters:
Jesus sets up a parallel with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Rev. 19:7-9; Rev. 21:4 and the LORD’s Banquet in Isaiah 25:6-8
Pharisees: Separatists (from persahin or parash “to separate”). Successors of Assideans (pious), a party that originated in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes in revolt against his heathenizing policy. Josephus describes them as one of three sects or schools of the Jews at the time along with the Essenes and the Sadducees (no resurrection, rigid interpretation of the law). There was much that was sound in their creed, but it was also mostly form over substance.
Luke 14:1–6 NASB95
It happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely. And there in front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy. And Jesus answered and spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they kept silent. And He took hold of him and healed him, and sent him away. And He said to them, “Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” And they could make no reply to this.
What are the main theological (information about how God functions) points to this pericope?

Jesus establishes his authority

Jesus sets up a distinction between the self-exhalted and the debased for later parallelism with their position in the Kingdom

Parable of the Guests

Luke 14:7–11 NASB95
And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. “But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 14:7–12 NASB95
And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. “But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment.
Luke 14:7–15 NASB95
And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. “But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
What are the big ideas in this pericope?
-15

Jesus sets up a parallel with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in ; and the LORD’s Banquet in

Who can enter the Kingdom?

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5b-6)

Note: parables usually have one central message and contain a lesson regarding people’s relationship to God in addition to interpersonal relationships.

Those who exalt themselves will be humiliated (now and to come) and those who humble themselves will be exalted

Luke 14:12–14 NASB95
And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Luke 14:12
Is this primarily a social/ethical, or etiquette lesson or is there a spiritual lesson and, if so, what is that?
If the parallelism is to the Banquet at the beginning of the Kingdom of Heaven, who is the host?
Who are the relatives, rich neighbors?
Who are the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind?
If refers primarily to the spiritually poor, what does that say about the poor, crippled, lame and blind in v. 12 above?
Spiritually humble as opposed to the arrogant form-over-substance religious people.
Luke 14:15–24 NASB95
When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ “Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ “Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ “And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ “And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. ‘For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’ ”
We’ve gone from an earthly social lesson to a heavenly, spiritual one. What is the spiritual parallel Jesus is making with this banquet?

Jesus sets up a parallel with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in ; and the LORD’s Banquet in

If the parallelism is to the Banquet at the beginning of the Kingdom of Heaven, who is the host and who are the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind? (Hint: ; ; cc Matthew 5:3)
Who are the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind? (Hint: Luke 4:18; Luke 6:20)
The host is God, the poor, etc. are those who are allowed into the Kingdom because they are poor in spirit (gentiles, Jews, and all who recognized the invitation of the Master; not just the Jewish haves—see Essene belief that Banquet was only for Jewish, whole men).
Is there something that God particularly loves about poor, disabled, taxpayers, sinners, Samaritans? Why the constant comparisons with the Pharisees and leaders of the Synagog?

Who can enter the Kingdom?

What are some other Lukean parables that seem to present a similar teaching?
The parable of the son and the vineyard (Luke 20:9-18)
The parable of the fig tree ()

Luke 14:18–19 NASB95
“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ “Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’
Mark 16:
Mark 16:15–16 NASB95
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
Luke 4:18–19 NASB95
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
Matthew 28:19-20
Matthew 28:19–20 NASB95
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Mark 16:15
Mark 16:15–16 NASB95
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
So tying all of these verses together in the context of the Great Commission () What is our obligation in Disabled Ministry?
Luke 4:18–19 NASB95
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
Luke 4:18-19
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