- Luke 13:22-18:14
- Matt. 20:1-16
On His journey which eventually leads to Jerusalem, Jesus returned to Perea, the region where John the Baptist had been baptizing at the beginning of Jesus' ministry. He taught many who came out to Him there and a lot of people believed on Him. It is here that Jesus made the statement regarding entrance into the kingdom of GOD, "...there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last." (Luke 13:30 NIV)
One Sabbath day, Jesus was invited to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee. He was being carefully watched. There was a man in front of Jesus who suffered from dropsy (swelling due to the accumulation of watery fluids). Jesus asked the Pharisees and teachers of the Law whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. They wouldn't answer. Then Jesus healed the man with dropsy and sent him away. Jesus told the Pharisees and teachers of the law that, if they had a serious problem, such as a child or an ox that fell into a well on the Sabbath day, they would not hesitate to pull them out. They were speechless.
Jesus then launched into a series of parables to point out important truths the Pharisees and teachers needed to learn. Let's consider the main points of Jesus' parables:
- When you're invited to a party, such as a wedding or dinner feast, don't sit in the best seat. Instead, sit in a less prominent place so that, if the host moves you, you will be elevated and not humiliated. In other words, don't assume you're the most important person at the event. The larger lesson Jesus is teaching is humility—treat others as more important than yourself.
- When you have a feast, don't invite your friends who'll probably invite you back; instead, invite and bless those who will be unable to repay you for your kindness. This is true love and giving.
- The kingdom of GOD is like a man preparing a huge banquet and he invited many guests. He sent his servant to tell those he was inviting to come, but they all made excuses. The servant reported this to the man and he was very angry. The man sent the servant to invite the poor, lame, crippled and blind, and they all came, but there was still room left over. The man sent the servant to the streets to call all who were willing, but none who were invited at first would be allowed to attend, because they rejected their invitation. This parable strikes at the heart of the Jews and their special covenant relationship with GOD, which they rejected, ultimately in the crucifixion of Jesus upon the cross. Many of these people would not enter the kingdom of heaven in order to attend GOD's great banquet, because they rejected their initial invitation to a special relationship with Him, and many of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law would be among this number.
- Only those who view their relationship with Jesus as more important than their relationship to their physical family or their own life will be allowed to be Jesus' disciple. We must carry our individual cross and follow Jesus every day.
- A person who wants to be a disciple of Jesus must first count the cost of that decision and agree to accept it. Otherwise, if they are unwilling to give up everything, they cannot be His disciple.
- Jesus came for the purpose of saving the lost, therefore, it should surprise no one that it was those people He associated with the most. Anyone who has lost something of value will search for it until it is found and, after finding it, will rejoice greatly. The same is true of one sinner who repents and returns to GOD.
- A person who has made bad mistakes in their life should remember that their Father in heaven longs for their return, is ever-watching for them in the distance, and will throw a party for them when they come home. The children of GOD who have not left His side should rejoice when one of their brothers or sisters returns home.
- A person who isn't faithful in the small things they are given to manage will not be faithful in large things. No person can serve two masters—they will love one and hate the other. You cannot serve GOD and money.
- Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Note that this is all Jesus said in this conversation regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage. However, this is not all Jesus said about the subject. There are other passages which should be considered to get a holistic view on the subject.)
- Jesus talked about two men who died, a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. It is unclear whether Jesus was using these two as a parable or if He was describing two real people who had lived. When the righteous poor man Lazarus died, he was comforted in a place called Abraham's bosom, whereas the wicked rich man was tormented in Hades. The rich man pleaded with Abraham to even give him a drop of water for his tongue, which he was not given. The rich man pleaded that someone be allowed to return from the dead to warn his brothers, but Abraham replied that they have Moses and the prophets, and that if they won't listen to them, they wouldn't listen to one who returned from the dead either.
- The kingdom of GOD is not something visible, but rather, exists within the hearts of its citizens.
- We need to pray persistently and boldly for those things that we need. Don't simply pray one time and give up.
- We need to pray with an attitude of humility, recognizing our sins, and not one of self-righteousness and pride, looking down on others.
- Rejoice when someone repents later in life and do not feel that GOD's generosity is unfair to those who worked for Him longer, seeing that all received the same reward of heaven and eternal life.
Each of these teachings of Jesus deserve a full devotional because of their value and importance. No doubt Jesus' disciples were overwhelmed by all of the great wisdom Jesus apparently shared in this short amount of time. Let's give careful reflection to what Jesus is teaching us and do our best to imitate His example in these things.