Luke 14

Three key thoughts: Being Humble, Being a Guest, Being a Disciple.Jesus begins this passage with a compassionate act.  He sees a man with swollen legs and heals him.  I often see people with physical ailments and sometimes I feel sorry for them, other times I just accept that illness, injury and disease are a part of life.  But that clearly isn’t the perspective of Jesus, and since I am created in God’s image and filled with His power, I should see things the way He sees them.   What stirs Jesus to compassion and action should also stir me.   The thought alone is enough for me to change my prayer life to say “Lord, help me feel and act toward others in the same way You do”.
1. Being Humble
Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s being open to the possibility that there are others who are further along than you.  They may know more, have more talent, have more authority or strength or wealth.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with accepting that.  Accepting that doesn’t make you less in any way, in fact it may encourage you to set a new goal to become “more”.   Consider for a moment the person who has lived their whole life praying, seeking God, listening to a variety of different pastors and attending seminars.  This  same person has been shaped by failure as well as success, has grappled with illness and disease, times of lack as well as times of plenty.  They have enjoyed great success and joy filled moments and have kept God at the center of it all.
Into the life of such a person comes a young pastor, who has been placed in a position of “authority” over the church.  Who is the most humble of the two?  Very likely it is the older, wiser and more experienced lay person, not the pastor.   In time, the pastor will realize that fact, and will grow accordingly.    I think this is the lesson that Jesus is teaching here.  Don’t automatically assume that you are the most important person in the room, or in the conversation.  Don’t assume that you  are the person in the worship service who is the closest to God.  Leave room in your thoughts for others to be even closer than you, that way when they appear in your life there is a place for them.
2. Many are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.  As we will hear in a separate reading, the Master of the Banquet will expel anyone who shows up without wedding clothes.  Just because the Kingdom is now open to the common and poor people doesn’t mean they can enter without preparing themselves.   The original guests were the Jews, and as the Jewish people rejected the Lord, the message (the invitation) was extended to others.  First to the Samaritans and people living among and nearby the Jews.  In time, the Apostle Paul would take the message to the Gentiles, in far away places like Turkey and Greece.   And within a few generations the gospel message would be shared with people on different continents, some of whom were sworn enemies of Israel.   The Kingdom of God isn’t political, it accepts citizens from every walk of life, every tribe and tongue under heaven is invited to enter.  But we can’t enter dressed in our own clothing.  The clothing that Jesus is referring to is righteousness.  Revelation 7 speaks of those who stand before God in white robes, robes that have been “washed in the blood of the Lamb” and are made pure and holy.  This is the appropriate attire for the wedding feast.   We must be cleansed of our sins, and live lives of holiness (Obedience) before God in order to be invited in.   Those who attempt to enter the feast without righteousness will be expelled, even though they were invited.   All are invited, some are rejected because they don’t prepare.
3. Being a Disciple
I want to focus on one verse today.  Verse 28 says “don’t begin until you count the cost”.    If the church has made any error, it is extending the invitation of salvation to the lost without telling them there is  a cost associated with discipleship.   Sacrifice and commitment are going to be required, and if you aren’t willing to allow Christ  to take control over your life, then uttering a few words in a prayer asking for forgiveness and entrance into heaven aren’t going to help you.   Jesus is looking for people who will accept Him for who He is, the One and Only Son of God, The Alpha and Omega, The King of Kings, The Creator, Author and  Perfecter of our faith.  I could go on, but you get the point.   Jesus is willing to forgive our sins if we are willing to live for  Him.   This idea ties into the invitation to the wedding in the verses above.  You are invited, but you must be transformed.  You are invited but you cannot enter in your current state.  You must be forgiven, filled with the presence of God and surrendered to God’s leading in your life.   Having said all that, don’t  despair if you aren’t further in your discipleship journey.  Maybe you’ve just begun and realize that you have a long way to go.  God understands that.  Maybe you have not really grown since you accepted Christ.  Now is a good time to take up the task and get motivated.  Accept that no one is going to see God who is cavalier about  their faith.  Only those who are actively seeking and growing are going to be ready on Judgment day.    
This isn’t about how mature you are, it’s about the condition of your heart.  God wants to know that you are on the journey with Him, not a casual observer.  Make every effort to be completely surrendered to His will today.
Praying for You,