Friday, January 17, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 19, 2014

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JESUS TEACHES ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
(GOD honors humbleness)
(Luke 14:1-24)

In the Gospel accounts (namely Mark, Luke, and John) there are seven incidences in which JESUS heals on the Sabbath day. Here in Luke 14, verse 4, we see one of those miraculous healings take place in the home of an unnamed leading Pharisee. On that occasion there was a man present, who suffered from a disease known as “The Dropsy”. It is an ailment that is caused by a fluid build-up in the body, due to malfunctions of organs such as the kidney, heart, or liver.
Ordinarily, the Pharisees would never have invited such a person to be a dinner quest at their home on any occasion. However, on this occasion, he was invited there to be “used by the Pharisees” to set JESUS up with another Sabbath day healing opportunity. They knew that JESUS would not be able to resist showing compassion for a sick person who might be in HIS presence.
JESUS, however, being aware of the evil motives of the religious leaders, used this opportunity to show how their cruel treatment of this man, by using him for bait, was much worse than HIS so-called violation of the Sabbath law. First, JESUS turns the tables on the Pharisees by asking them a theological question. “Is it permitted in the Law of Moses to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not? When the Pharisees refused to answer, JESUS touched the sick man and healed him, and then, sent him away.
Then JESUS turned and posed two more questions to the religious leaders. HE first asks, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? Then, not expecting a response, HE quickly followed up with another question, when HE asks, “If your son, or your cow falls into a pit on the Sabbath, would you not hesitate to try and get them out right away? Again, being caught up, in their own web of deceit, the Pharisees, would not answer (Luke 14:3-6). The lesson here in this passage is that, for the true Christian, helping people can never be considered a “chore”, but rather, it should always be considered a “responsibility” and a “pleasure”.
JESUS will never refuse the hospitality of anyone who invites HIM, and by adhering to that principal, HE never abandoned the hope of converting or appealing to a lost soul. In this particular instance we see JESUS even accepting the invitation of a known enemy, a Pharisee, because HE wanted HIS followers to see such occasions, as an opportunity to possibly convert, and even turn an enemy into a friend.
We must remember that almost every time JESUS met with members of the religious hierarchy in Jerusalem and other places, HE would leave one or more of them feeling convicted, or, in some cases, with a converted heart. JESUS is always, in a divine sort of way, luring the hearts of men from a state of arrogance and pride, and into a state of humility and dependence on GOD.
In Luke 14:7-14, after JESUS had noticed how all the quests were jockeying to be seated in a place of honor at the head of the table, HE began to advise them with a parable aimed at teaching people some of the advantages of being humble. Here HE gives them an illustration of how pride can set a person up to be humiliated, or knocked down.
JESUS tells the dinner quests in verses 8-9, not to always head for the best seat in the house. What if someone, more respected than you, has also been invited, HE says. Then, the host will have to come and tell you to let that person sit there instead, and you might be embarrassed and have to move to whatever seat is left at the foot of the table. Instead, find you a place at the foot of the table, and that way, you put yourself in a position where you can only be moved up to a more honored seat, closer to the head of the table. The lesson here is that, “the proud person sets himself up to be humbled, but the humble person sets himself up to be honored”.
And finally, in Luke 14:15-24, we see JESUS presenting the invited guest with yet another parable. This time HE turns our attention to the most important of all invitations. It is “the invitation to salvation” that HE HIMSELF had come to deliver. Here JESUS gives the illustration of a man who prepared a great feast for which he sent out many invitations. When the time of the feast came, he sent his servants out to notify his people that the time had come. One by one they all begin to make lame excuses as to why they could not attend. When the servants returned and told their master what had happened, in his anger, he sent them back out instructing them to go into the streets and alleys of the city and invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. After this, he sent them back out, this time into the country places to ask everyone that they might see, to come to the feast, so that his house would be filled.
This parable serves to show us that GOD invites all people to enter into the salvation feast. However, only those who accept HIS invitation, through CHRIST, HIS SERVANT, will be able to attend. Salvation is for all who are willing to first humble themselves enough to repent, and then, accept the invitation and come by faith, to CHRIST.
Ironically, this passage, Luke 14:15-24, was the text of the last sermon preached by the highly respected minister, D.L. Moody in Kansas City, Missouri, way back in 1899, only one month prior to his death. But it is a message of salvation that was first delivered by CHRIST JESUS from the house of an unbeliever, somewhere in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. And JESUS had no doubt, through HIS teachings that day in Jerusalem, inspired a hope in Moody similar to hope that HE had previously inspired in HIS original disciples. It is a hope that each generation would take advantage of the opportunity to share in the coming Kingdom feast that can only be attended by those who are humble enough to accept the invitation.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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