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Humility and Exaltation
1. The Lord Jesus had a right to teach humility. Christ Jesus was very God of very God, dwelling in light unapproachable, and yet He humbled Himself, and was found in fashion as a man.
Certainly Christ had a right to teach humility, because He practiced it, and lived it. Christ said that an invited guest should take the lowest seat, lest one more noble than he should enter, and he should be asked to pass down to the lowest seat.
Christ even went so far as to say that one, in giving a dinner or a feast, should call in the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind those who could not recompense him for his hospitality. In all of this, may those of us who name Christ's Name follow in His steps.
2. The Lord Jesus was deservedly exalted. The way of the Cross is the path to the crown. Humility is the stepping-stone to exaltation. Resurrection follows death and decay. Exaltation follows self-negation. The way to get up is to get down. The way to save the life is to lose it. The way to eternal riches is through temporal poverty.
We who would reign with Christ must pass with Him through His suffering. We who would partake of His riches, must share with Him in His poverty. We who would enter into His glorification, must first pass with Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
I. CHOOSING THE CHIEF ROOMS (Luke 14:7 )
1. Christ's all-observing eye. The Lord Jesus was the most practical of preachers. He spoke frequently by parables, and His parables were usually based upon things which He saw around Him, things which were familiar to all.
In our verse, we read that Christ marked how the ones who were bidden to a feast, chose out the chief rooms. There was nothing that was covered to the vision of the Lord. He knew what was in man. He saw how they chose out that which gave them honor and prestige.
2. The unchanging nature of the human heart. We are sure that the attitude of those guests of old is that of the guests of today. Paul truly said; "All seek their own," and exhorted; "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Is it not far better to remember the words spoken by God, "Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not"?
"Ego" is the big "I" that rules the human heart. We are forever saying, that we must, first of all, be true to ourselves. Nebuchadnezzar was cursed of God, because he took honor to himself, and gave not honor to God.
The human heart has never changed. What Christ saw of yore, He still sees in hearts that are not dominated by the Spirit of God.
II. A WARNING WORD (Luke 14:8-9 )
As we ponder these words of the Master, we cannot help but believe that He had a far-flung meaning to His words. He was not speaking merely of the then prevalent method of self-exaltation and self-seeking on great feast days. He was looking down through the centuries to a wedding feast, to be set in the skies.
1. Christ had in view the wedding of the Lamb. We read in Revelation that the Marriage of the Lamb is come, and His Wife hath made Herself ready. We also read; "Blessed are they which are called unto the Marriage Supper of the Lamb."
2. Christ had in view the placing of the heavenly wedding guests. There are too many who have entirely forgotten that there will be distinctions in the placing of those who gather around the Lamb at the great Marriage Feast in Heaven. Many who have been first down here, will be last up there; and many who have been last, will be first.
The forty-fifth Psalm describes various groups in connection with the King. There is the Queen standing at His right hand, dressed in the gold of Ophir, there are the daughters, and the rich of the people; there is the King's daughter. All of these have honor and joy, but not all are equally placed.
III. THE LAW OF EXALTATION (Luke 14:11 )
1. Our text reveals one of God's great paradoxes: "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." These words suggest that the way to get up is to get down. This is the very thing which the parable likewise suggests. For, the host of the wedding says unto the one who took the lowest room, "Friend, go up higher"; while the one who took the highest room, is filled with shame as he is forced to retreat to the lowest room.
Is it not true that death is the way to life? Is it not necessary for the grain of wheat to fall in the ground and die, before it can spring forth into life, and unto a marvelously enlarged fruitfulness?
2. Our text is enforced by Christ as our example. Jesus Christ was a Man delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God; a Man taken, and by wicked hands crucified and slain; therefore, Jesus Christ was exalted to the right hand of the Father.
Jesus Christ, being found in fashion as a man, humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death on the Cross: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name."
IV. THE REALM OF REWARDS AND THE GRATUITIES OF GRACE (Luke 14:12-14 )
The Lord Jesus, in the verse now before us, is giving an interpretation of the meaning of humility as the pathway to exaltation. Christ said, "When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee." We call this:
1. A warning against serving for pay. It may be all right to invite our friends and rich neighbors, knowing that they will return the compliments, and invite us again: but we may not expect any reward in Heaven for so doing. "Verily, we have our reward."
2. Serving for love. The Lord Jesus, alter advising against making a dinner to those who could again bid us, and give us a recompense, told us, "When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed."
It is not difficult to catch the meaning of the Master's words. He means that a service rendered where an earthly reward and return is unsought or impossible, shall be a basis for reward in the coming days.
It is necessary for us, therefore, to examine the basis upon which we operate. We need to weigh well the motive which prompts our service. There are some who serve that they may be seen of men. There are others who are seeking, everyone, their own gain from their own quarter. They live for earthly things.
V. THE GREATEST FEAST OF ALL (Luke 14:15-16 )
As Christ spoke the words which we have been considering, one who sat at meat with Him, said, "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God." The Lord may have marveled because this man grasped the deeper meaning of His words, and looked down through the centuries to that blessed hour when the Kingdom of God should be established, and the King's feast made known. The Lord Jesus immediately turned the attention of the group gathered around Him to the coming great supper. He said, "A certain man made a great supper, and bade many."
1. Let us consider the host. The "certain man" is none other than God, the Father. Is it not remarkable when we think that He shall yet prepare a table before us? This vision is not farfetched.
Have you not read how Jesus, in parable, said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain King, which made a marriage for His Son"? Christ is the Son; the Father is the certain King.
2. Let us consider the guests. Those who were first bidden, and are first mentioned, did not come to the supper. Then, the Lord said unto His servant, "Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind."
What does this all suggest? Every man is a sinner undone, unclean, and unworthy of a place at the Marriage of the Lamb. Even to the rich of earth, God says, "Miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." All men are needy; all men are lost; all men are suppliants for grace. There is no human who dares to lift up his head in pride when he comes into the presence of the great God.
VI. THE FOLLY OF THOSE WHO MAKE EXCUSE (Luke 14:18-20 )
1. The invitation spurned. Here is one of the strange things which confront us in every age. God is not willing that any should perish. God has written over the door, "Whosoever will may come." God has prepared a sacrifice, and has sent forth His heralders to every nation, and to every creature; and yet men with one consent begin to make excuse.
2. The excuses proffered. One put five yoke of oxen; another put a visitation to a piece of ground; and another put marital relationships as an excuse for refusing the invitation to God's great Supper.
Saddest of all the Lord said, "None of those men which were bidden shall taste of My Supper." God's Spirit will not always call upon men. "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." The time will come when God will shut the door.
It is said that a young man from college approached a great London preacher asking him for the privilege, of filling his pulpit. As the youth was a member of his church, as well as the son of one of the parishioners, he said, "I will be glad for you to take our midweek prayermeeting service." The young theologue said, "I am not a prayermeeting preacher, but the best preacher in college. I want the main Sunday service."
The pastor granted the request, and, after introducing the young man on the following Sunday morning, sat down to hear the wonderful sermon which he was promised by the youth, The college lad arose, dressed in the height of fashion; his hair was well combed, his necktie was well placed. He tried to find his text, but could not. He endeavored to speak, but his words all left him. Embarrassed and ashamed, with drooping head, he left the platform.
As the young man went down, the pastor is reputed to have said, "Young man, if you had gone up the way you are coming down, you might have come down the way you went up."
What the preacher meant was: "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."
Excuses, as they are usually given by those who do not desire to be Christians, are the most inexcusable things you ever heard. There are very few excuses, therefore, which can be classed under reasons . They are excuses, and nothing more. When we want to find out the reasons why people are not saved, we can go to the 5th chapter of John, and discover five distinct thing's which Christ said, First: "Ye have not His Word abiding in you." Second: "Whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not." Third, "Ye will not come to Me." Fourth, "Ye have not the love of God in you." Fifth: "Ye receive Me not." The excuses set forth in the Scripture lesson for this study are three in number, and all of them are incompatible and foolish.
1. The first man said, "I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused." We realize that if he had already bought the ground, it was foolish to go to see it, especially when there was something so vital before him as an invitation to a great supper. The truth was the man did not care for the supper, for his heart was set on the land he had bought. Where the treasure is, there will the heart be also. The rich young ruler had no excuse for refusing to follow Christ. His difficulty lay in the fact that he loved his houses and lands, and his bank stock more than he loved his Lord.
2. Another said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them." Once more we see the folly of the excuse-maker. The time to prove oxen is before one pays for them, and not after. Since he had already bought the oxen, their proving could now easily wait for awhile at least until the great supper was over. We realize again that the man did not care for the supper, and did not wish to be there. He counted the pleasure of proving his oxen as of more worth than his attendance at the supper. Thus he lived for the things that were earthly.
3. The third said, "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." For a man who has just married there is no better place to go than to a great supper. He certainly could have taken his wife, for the invitation was general. He said, "I cannot come." He should have said, "I will not come." Let us pause for a moment to consider to what these three were invited.
They were invited to a supper which was to be set in the Kingdom of God, a great supper where Christ and His Father were to be Hosts, and they, the guests. They were not required to bring anything by way of gifts, or pay for the dinner; it was free. The guests were to be those who were washed in the Blood of the Lamb. The Host was to furnish them with white robes. They were to eat the Bread of Life, and to drink of the Water from which, after drinking, no one ever has thirsted. The table was to be set in the clouds, environed with the glory of God. Thus we get a little vision of the supper to which these guests were invited. Alas, how many thousands are daily rejecting the Heavenly supper, forgetting that God hath said, "Blessed are they which are called unto the Marriage Supper of the Lamb."
They tell of a marriage far up in the skies,
I want to be there; I do!
The table is set in God's paradise;
I want to be there; don't you?
The Lamb will be there in glory all bright,
I expect to be there; don't you?
The Bride will be robed in raiment all white;
I expect to be there; don't you?
I. THERE ARE TOO MANY HYPOCRITES (Matthew 7:1-5 )
We have before us a critical spirit one who would judge another, but who excuses himself. While beholding the mote in the eye of another, he overlooked the beam in his own eye. Our Lord commands such an one to first pull the beam out of his own eye, and then he will be able to see clearly to pull the mote out of the brother's eye.
The one who judges is, in reality, not interested in getting the mote out of his brother's eye. His whole spirit is that of faultfinding and unkind judgment. When you meet people running around and talking about so many hypocrites in the church, they are not trying to rectify the condition which they condemn.
Criticism is always cheap, when it is destructive. The truth is that he who judges another will be judged with that same judgment. We grant that there are hypocrites in the church, but there are more hypocrites out of it.
Nine times out of ten, the man who judges another does the same thing as that for which he, is judging. Our Lord taught this very plainly when the Spirit said, "Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things."
He who talks about hypocrites should first, himself, be without sin. Besides all of this, in God's judgment day, the account we must render concerns ourselves strictly, and not our neighbors. It is not what some one else has or has not done, which will matter in that day, so far as we are concerned, it is whether we have done good or bad. "So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God."
A woman asked me one day where that Bible passage was, where it says, "Every tub must stand on its own bottom," She said, "Everyone in this whole block is hunting that verse." I told her they would never find it in the Bible, but they would find one that meant much the same thing. God's Word does say, "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."
II. I WANT TO ENJOY THE WORLD FIRST (1 John 2:14-15 )
He who is deferring his salvation and acceptance of Christ because he wants first to enjoy the world a little while, should study the words of our key text: "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in Him." Shall we seek the love of the world, before the love of God? What are the "things in the world" which we want to enjoy? They are the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. They are the things which are not of the Father; they are the things which pass away.
In the Book of Ecclesiastes we have the story of one who sought the things of this world. After he had sought and found everything that the world could give, he cried, "Therefore I hated life."
We have seen those who have gone out after worldly things, but they were never satisfied. The world with all of its gold and its glitter, with all of its pleasure and its pastimes, with all of its appeal to the physical and to the carnal, can never satisfy.
"He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase." If ever a man on earth had the opportunity to drink from the fountains of this world's follies, it was Solomon. Yet, over the world and all of its joys, he wrote: "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, * * all is vanity."
If the world is vanity, then the world is a soap bubble. He who says I cannot give up the world for Christ is selling the Lord for a mess of pottage. The little song that was so popular awhile back ran this way:
"I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air;
They fly so high, they touch the sky."
and we might add,
"But when you touch them, they're not there."
So it is with the world. It ever evades your grasp.
"Take the world, but give me Jesus
That dear Friend, who died for me."
III. I DO NOT WANT TO BE SAVED JUST NOW (2 Corinthians 6:2 )
This excuse is one which is often heard. "Oh, yes! I want to be a Christian some time," they say, "but not now." In the Word of God there is a very plain example of this excuse-maker. It is none other than Felix, who said, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee."
We might paraphrase the words of Felix like this: "Go thy way for this time," that is, "not now." "When I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." that is, "by and by."
"Not now"? yet "now" is the only time we have. We live in one eternal "now." We cannot get out of "now." We cannot fly over it, and beyond it; we cannot crawl under it, and past it; we cannot slip around it. Wherever we are, it is " NOW ."
Years ago we dressed up to go and see a factory. When we arrived we read over the door: "Visitors not welcome today; come tomorrow." We were disappointed, but went the next day. Upon arrival we found the same words there. We said to our companion, "This is tomorrow"; but she answered, "No, this is today." Yes, and it is always today.
The Bible says, "Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, * * and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow." In the case of Felix, the more convenient day never came. There are multiplied thousands who have sealed their doom by saying, "Not now, but tomorrow."
If now is God's accepted time, let us come NOW .
"Why do you wait, dear brother?
Oh, why do you tarry so long?
Your Saviour is waiting to give you
A place in His sanctified throng.
"What do you hope, dear brother,
To gain by a further delay?
There's no one to save you but Jesus;
There's no other way but His way."
IV. I AM TOO GREAT A SINNER (Isaiah 1:18 )
This is an excuse which is often heard by those who are seeking to lead the unsaved to Christ. It is just as senseless for some one to say, "I am too dirty to wash," as to say, "I am too great a sinner to be saved." "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
No one can be too great a sinner, inasmuch as the Book says, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." He who says, "I am too great a sinner," says in effect, "Christ is too small a Saviour; His Blood may be sufficient to atone for little boys and little girls, but it cannot atone for me." The sins of a sinner cannot be greater than the love of the Saviour. It is the sick who need the physician, and not the well. It is the one who is far off, who needs to be brought nigh; the one who is lost, who needs to be found.
The Apostle Paul says, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ; of whom I am chief." A great sinner means not only a great Saviour, but it also means that the great Saviour will receive the great sinner, and the great sinner receives a great pardon. Every sinner is a great sinner because he has sinned against a great love and a great Lord.
There are no little sins. Some men may have allowed sin to reign over them to a greater extent than some others, but God describes every unredeemed heart as being deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. He tells us that from the head to the feet there is nothing but wounds, bruises, and putrefying sores, which have neither been bound up, nor mollified with ointment. Yes, we are all great sinners, but not too great for so great a Saviour.
V. I AM AFRAID I CANNOT HOLD OUT (Isaiah 41:10 ; Isaiah 41:13 )
Afraid you cannot hold out! That is a mere excuse. Why not just say, "I can't hold out," or, better, why not admit that your holding out has nothing to do with it? Do you not know that it is He who is holding on and not you who are holding out? The trouble with one who makes this excuse is that he is thinking of himself, and not of his Saviour. He is building his hope upon the sand of his own attainments instead of upon the rock of Christ's Cross. The Lord says unto the trusting soul, "I the Lord thy God will hold, thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee." He asks us not to fear, but to faith Him.
When the Lord called Peter, He said unto Him, "Thou art Simon * * thou shalt be called Cephas, * * a rock."
Paul delighted in the saying, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."
It is not for us to safeguard our own lives. It is for us to commit our life unto Him, as unto a Faithful Creator, and unfailing Saviour.
Paul asked, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Then He tells us that in all things, in Him, we are more than conquerors. Our lives are hid with Christ in God. He knows His sheep. He knows them by name, and He says of them, "They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." Let us stop imagining that we cannot hold out, and let us speak about His wonderful grace, and keeping power.
"All my doubts I give to Jesus!
I've His gracious promise heard
I 'shall never be confounded'
I am trusting in that Word.
"All my sin I lay on Jesus!
He doth wash me in His Blood;
He will keep me pure and holy,
He will bring me Home to God."
VI. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND (Proverbs 3:5-6 )
The truth is, there is very little which we do understand. When the Children of Israel were commanded to sprinkle the blood on the two side posts, and on the upper doorposts, God said, "And when I see the blood, I will pass over you." He did not say, "And when you understand the blood."
There is very little, in this world that we do understand about anything. We do not understand why a sheep can eat grass and grow wool; why a goose can eat grass, and grow feathers; why a cow can eat grass and grow hair we do not need to understand. We simply know it is true.
We do not understand regeneration. It is like the wind. We know not from whence it cometh, or whither it goeth. The man who sails his boat does not need to know the philosophy of the wind. He needs to know only how to hold the sails. So it is with salvation. We cannot grasp the depth of the wisdom of God, nor understand the wonders of salvation, but we can throw up the sail of faith, and catch the breath of the Spirit, and God will do the rest.
When a man said to his little girl, "You are not old enough to be a Christian," she gazed into the face of her father and said, "Papa, I am old enough to love you, and believe in you. Then I am old enough to love and to believe in Jesus, too."
It is with the heart that man believeth unto righteousness, and not with the head that he understands unto salvation. Let us trust where we cannot see, and walk where we do not know.
"Not now, but in the coming years
It may be in the better land
We'll read the meaning of our tears,
And there, some time, we'll understand.
"We'll know why clouds instead of sun
Were over many a cherished plan;
Why song has ceased when scarce begun;
'Tis there, some time, we'll understand.
"God knows the way, He holds the key,
He guides us with unerring hand;
Some time with tearless eyes we'll see;
Yes, there, up there, we'll understand.
"Then trust in God through all thy days;
Fear not! for He doth hold thy hand;
Though dark thy way, still sing and praise;
Some time, some time we'll understand."
VII. THERE IS TOO MUCH TO GIVE UP (Mark 8:35-36 )
"What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" A little child was reputed to have dropped his penny in a jelly glass. He put his hand in, grasped the penny, and with his hand doubled up, he could not get it out of the glass. His cries brought his mother. She said, "What is the matter?" He said, "I dropped my penny in here, and can't get it out." She told him to let go and straighten out his hand. This he would not do for quite a while. He was holding on to the penny, and was afraid of losing it. When at last he opened his fingers and let the penny go, he quickly withdrew his hand, and then the mother tipped the glass and restored to him his piece of money.
It is thus with us. There are some things we are afraid to give up, but when we give them up we get Christ, and He gives us back what we gave up, or something better.
Abraham gave up Ur of the Chaldees to follow Christ; God gave him back far more. He gave to him and to his seed, forever, the land of Canaan which was the garden spot of the earth.
Moses gave up Egypt, its glory and riches. God gave to Moses not only the leadership of His people, Israel, but He gave him the privilege of being present at the Mount of Transfiguration, and in addition He gave him glory forevermore.
Suppose we are asked to give up all the world. What is that compared to what we receive? If a man should gain the whole world and lose his own soul, he has lost more, incomparably more, than he has gained.
One day in Heaven is worth more than a life on earth. If we have the world we have it only for a little while, but if we have Him and Heaven, we have both forevermore. There is, however, one thing we need to weigh, and that is that God does not ask us to give up anything that is of real value. We are only asked to give up those things which hinder, and hurt, and harm. The things which pull us down, the things which rob us of our peace and purity and power.
He who has Christ, has all things, for the Lord has said, "All things are yours." He has the things which are present, and the things which are to come. Yea, above all of these, he has Christ. What more does he want?
Let us never make this excuse again. Let us not be an Esau who for one morsel of bread sold his birthright. Let us not sell our souls for nought.
How can any one say to the Lord, "I pray Thee have me excused"? Shall one seek to be excused from his chiefest blessing? Shall one seek to avoid his best friend? Shall one run away from his best good?
Excused? From what? From whom? To what? To whom?
Sinner, stop and think what you are doing!
'Tis to you the Saviour calls, come, O come to Him today;
Hear, O hear His tender voice, turn from ev'ry sinful way.
Come, believe His holy Word, trust, O trust in God today;
He gave Christ to save thy soul, He will wash thy sins away.
Now is God's appointed time, heed, O heed His call today;
A "tomorrow" may not come, make Him now your rock and stay.
He is waiting, now decide. When is better than today?
Ev'ry hour your heart grows hard, trust Him now, without delay.
R. E. N.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Luke 14". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28