Invitations

Then Jesus turned to his host (138).  “When you give a lunch or a dinner, don’t invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbors.  You know they will all return the favor, and you’ll be paid back.

“Instead, when you give a feast, invite people who are poor or paralyzed or blind.  God will bless you for this, precisely because those guests are not able to pay you back.  God himself will repay you on the day of judgment.”

invitations

When one of the men sitting at the table heard this, he said to Jesus, “How happy are those who will sit down to feast with God in heaven!” Jesus then told this story, to emphasize that we must accept God’s invitation to that heavenly feast.

“There was once a man who was giving a great feast, to which he invited many people. When everything was ready, he sent his servant to call the guests.

“But they all sent excuses. One said, ‘I’ve bought a field and I must go look at it; please accept my apologies.’ Another said, ‘I’ve bought some oxen and I need to go check them out; please accept my apologies.’  Another one said, ‘I just got married, so you know I can’t come.’

excuses

“The servant went back and told all this to his master. The master was furious at all the excuses.  He told his servant, ‘Go & invite people who are poor or paralyzed or blind.’

“When he had done that, the servant reported, ‘There is still room for more guests.’  So then his master told him: ‘Then bring strangers in, so that my house will be full for the feast.

“But definitely do not admit any of those people I originally invited!'”

 

(138) Luke 14:12-24

Strength & Honor

One Sabbath Jesus went to eat a meal at the home of one of the leading local Pharisees (137).  Many people were watching Jesus closely.

A man whose legs and arms were badly swollen came to Jesus for healing.  Jesus asked the teachers of the law and the Pharisees who were there, “Does the law of Moses allow healing on the Sabbath or not?”

swollen

When they refused to answer, Jesus healed the man and sent him away. Then he said to them, “If any one of you had a son or an ox that happened to fall in a well on a Sabbath, you would pull him out right away!”

Again, the Pharisees there had no answer for Jesus.

Jesus noticed how some of the guests were choosing the best places to sit.  But he didn’t single them out; instead he told this story to everyone there.

Best-Seat-in-the-House

“When someone invites you to a feast, don’t choose the best place to sit. It may be that someone more important than you has also been invited.  Then your host, who invited you both, would have to come & say to you, ‘You must let this man have your place.’ So you would be embarrassed by having to move to a lower place.

el-greco-the-last-supper

“Instead, when you are invited to a feast, choose the lowest place to sit.  Then your host may come & say to you, ‘Come, my friend, sit in a better place.’ This will bring you honor before the other guests.

“From God’s perspective, everyone who tries to make himself great will be humbled, but everyone who humbles himself will be made greater.”

 

(137) Luke 14:1-11

Jerusalem In Jeopardy

About that same time some Pharisees tried a new tactic to get rid of Jesus (136).  They said to him, “You need to get out of here and go somewhere else, because King Herod wants to kill you!”

But Jesus saw through their trick, and he certainly didn’t fear Herod.  Instead Jesus answered, “Go and tell that fox that I’ll keep on expelling evil spirits & healing people until I’ve finished my work for God.”

fox

Jesus then expressed great sorrow because the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem stubbornly refused to believe in him: “Now I must continue on my way toward Jerusalem, for prophets are always killed in Jerusalem.

“How many times I wanted to put my arms around all the people of that great city, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but they wouldn’t let me!

chicks-under-wings

“And so the temple in Jerusalem will be abandoned by God.  And the people of Jerusalem will not see God, until they acknowledge that I have been sent from God.”

 

(136) Luke 13:31-35

Getting Into Heaven

Then Jesus left Jerusalem and went back again across the Jordan River to the place where John had been baptizing (135). Many people came to him. “John the Baptizer didn’t do miracles,” some said, “but everything he said about Jesus is true.” And many people believed in Jesus.

As Jesus went through towns and villages east of the Jordan River, once he was asked, “Sir, will just a few people be saved from hell & admitted to heaven?”

In response, Jesus said, “Getting into heaven is not as easy as you think.

“First, you can only enter heaven by a very, very narrow gate.

narrow gate

“Many people will try to go in by looking for a wider gate, but that won’t work.

“Second, at some point God will close the narrow gate. Then when you stand outside and knock to enter, God will say, ‘I don’t know you.’ You may answer, ‘But we ate and drank with you; you taught in our town.’  But he will say again, ‘I don’t know you. It’s too late for you to enter.’

“When you are on the outside looking in, you will cry and grind your teeth in perpetual pain.  But you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets in heaven with God.

“And other faithful people from every nation will come & enter heaven to be with God.

Jesus white Robe of Heaven

“Some of the people whom you thought would be last in line to enter heaven will actually be first.  And you people who should have been first in line will be dead last.”

 

(135) John 10:40-42, Luke 13:22-30

My Sheep Follow Me

In the winter, the festival of the dedication of the temple was being celebrated in Jerusalem (134). Jesus had come into town for this festival, and he was walking in Solomon’s porch in the temple.

Some religious people gathered around & challenged him: “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? Just tell us the truth: are you the Messiah?”

Jesus answered, “I told you that I am, but you wouldn’t believe me. I do many good deeds at God’s direction, but you still won’t believe me.

“The problem is that you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice & they follow me. I give them new life that will continue forever; this is the greatest gift of God. No one can take my sheep away from me, and no one can take them away from God, because God & I are one.”

sheep-following

Some people picked up stones to throw at him, so Jesus said to them, “I have done many good deeds among you, as directed by God.  For which of these do you want to stone me?”

They answered, “You deserve to be stoned because of your blasphemy against God! You’re only a man, but you claim to be God!”

Jesus answered, “It is written in the inspired scriptures that God said, ‘You are gods.’  God said this of the people who received his message, and we all know that what the scriptures say is true. So it is not blasphemy to say that I am God’s son.

blasphemy

(The diagram simply indicates that God has revealed himself to us in three distinct persons — Father, Son & Holy Spirit — to make it easier for us to get to know him.)

Jesus continued, “But if you won’t believe my words, then you should believe my deeds; because of them, you should know that God & I are one.”

To some of the people there, this was still blasphemy.  They wanted to seize Jesus, but he simply slipped away.

 

(134) John 10:22-39

 

The Heart Of God

On another Sabbath day, Jesus was teaching in a synagogue (133).

There was a woman there who had been deformed by an evil spirit for eighteen years; she was always bent over and couldn’t straighten up. When Jesus met her, he placed his hand on her said, “Woman, be free from this sickness.”

Harold_Copping_The_Crippled_Woman_400

The woman straightened herself up & praised God for her deliverance!

The pastor & priest of that synagogue was angry because Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath.  He wanted to warn his people against offending God in this way, so he told them, “God has given us six days for working, so come during those days and be healed, but not on the Sabbath!”

But Jesus responded, “Everybody does some work on the Sabbath.  Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from the stall & take it out to give it water on the Sabbath?

“Here is this poor woman, a descendant of Abraham like you all; Satan has kept her in bonds for eighteen years!  Shouldn’t she be set free on the Sabbath?”

This answer made the enemies of Jesus ashamed of themselves.  But the rest of the people rejoiced over the wonderful thing that Jesus had done.

Jesus wanted to encourage the people to keep seeking the heart of God.  So he gave them two quick word pictures to emphasize that God is always seeking to show us more & more of his heart.

“Consider a man who takes a mustard seed and plants it in his field. Gradually, the plant grows & becomes a tree, and the birds make their nests in its branches.

IMG_0069   risen dough

“Or consider a woman who takes some yeast and mixes it with a bushel of flour.  Gradually, the whole batch of dough rises.”

 

(133) Luke 13:10-21

Real Repentance

Some people in the crowd asked Jesus about the Galileans whom the Roman governor, Pilate, had killed while they were offering sacrifices to God (132).

Jesus said, “Because those Galileans were killed in that way, do you think they were worse sinners than all the rest of the people in Galilee? Not so! Everyone is guilty of sins against God, and everyone must repent & turn away from their sins.  If you don’t, you’ll be destroyed, too.”

Then Jesus asked, “What about those eighteen people in Siloam who were killed when the tower fell on them? Do you think they were worse sinners than all the rest of the people in Jerusalem? Not so! Everyone is guilty of sins against God, and everyone must repent & turn away from their sins.  If you don’t, you’ll be destroyed, too.”

repent

Jesus then told them this story to emphasize two things:

  1. Real repentance will be evident in a new life that bears fruit for God.
  2. We must make wise use of any time God gives us for real repentance.

“Once there was a man who had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, but it didn’t bear any figs. So the man said to his gardener, ‘For three years I’ve been looking for figs on this tree, and it’s still barren. Cut it down! Why should I waste this piece of ground on it?’

barren

But the gardener answered, ‘Please, let me work with it just one more year; I’ll fertilize it carefully. Then, if the tree doesn’t bear figs next year, you can have it cut down.'”

 

(132) Luke 13:1-9