Lesson 1: March 3, 2019

Luke 14:7–14 People crave recognition and status, but are never satisfied and always want more. How does one find true fulfillment in relationship with others? Jesus taught that demonstrating humility and extending unselfish hospitality bring fulfillment in this life and the life to come.

Called to Humility and Hospitality

Bible Background • Luke 14:7–14
Printed Text • Luke 14:7–14 | Devotional Reading • Luke 14:15–24

Words You Should Know

A. Bidden kaleo (Gk.)—To call specifically.

B. Feast doche (Gk.)—An elaborate meal, banquet where people are invited.

 

Teacher Preparation

Unifying Principle—Humility and Hospitality. People crave recognition and status, but are never satisfied and always want more. How does one find true fulfillment in relationship to others? Jesus taught that demonstrating humility and extending unselfish hospitality brings fulfillment in this life and the life to come.

A. Read the Bible Background and Devotional Readings.

B. Pray for your students and lesson clarity.

C. Read the lesson Scripture in multiple translations.

D. Option: Have students discuss the meaning of genuine humility and contrast it with the false kind that is merely pretentious. What constitutes genuine and false humility?

 

O—Open the Lesson

A. Begin the class with prayer.

B. Have the students read the Aim for Change.

C. Have the students read the In Focus story.

D. Ask students how events named in the story can weigh on their hearts and how they can view these events from a theological perspective.

P—Present the Scriptures

A. Read the Focal Verses and discuss the Background and The People, Places, and Times sections.

B. Have the class share what Scriptures stand out for them and why, with particular emphasis on today’s context.

 

E—Explore the Meaning

A. Use In Depth or More Light on the Text to help provide deeper discussion of the lesson text.

B. Discuss the Liberating Lesson and Application for Activation sections.

 

N—Next Steps for Application

A. Summarize the value of being humble and hospitable.

B. End class with a commitment to pray for those who feel left out of church, community, or society.

Worship Guide
For the Superintendent or Teacher
Theme: Called to Humility and Hospitality
Song: “Jesus Has a Table Spread”
Devotional Reading: Luke 14:15–24

Aim for Change

In this lesson, we will: EXAMINE the teachings of Jesus regarding humility and hospitality; REFLECT on selfish personal tendencies; and IDENTIFY ways to respect those who are considered unworthy.

In Focus

Jill was a trustee at her church and an attention seeker. For example, she always sat up front during worship on Sunday and demanded that the ushers save her seat. She even sat next to Pastor Jones toward the head of the table at the trustee meetings. At one meeting, Jill arrived a few moments early to mark her usual seat next to Pastor Jones. She left her belongings and went to the restroom. Upon her return, she discovered that her belongings had been moved. Sitting in the seat was a new member, Stacey, whom Pastor Jones had brought to the meeting. Jill was angry and said, “Excuse me, this is my seat. I am the only one who sits next to Pastor Jones in these meetings. And why are you even here? These are not open meetings. You just joined the church, and the bylaws say that you must be a member for at least a year before taking a leadership position.

Pastor Jones intervened, “Stacey is my guest. She is coming on board to help us with feeding the homeless on Saturday. Stacey was once homeless and used to sleep at the shelter. Her wisdom is needed because of her experience. I thought that it would be best for her to sit between the two of us as we bring her up to speed on the mission.” Stunned, Jill took a new seat.

How could we be more hospitable toward those who we are unfamiliar with? How could we do better in practicing humility when asked to do something that is out of our normal routine?

“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11, KJV).

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 14:11, NLT).

KJV Luke 14:7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them.

8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;

9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.

10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.

11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

12 Then said he also to him that bade him, 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 recompence be made thee.

13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:

14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

NLT Luke 14:7 When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice:

8 “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited?

9 The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!

10 Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests.

11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

12 Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward.

13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.

14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”

People, Places, and Times

Pharisees. A major religious party in Jesus’ time, the Pharisees were known for their strict observance of the Law of Moses and reliance on tradition. Portrayed as Jesus’ adversaries in all four Gospels, the Pharisees often were outraged at Jesus’ teachings and actions that portrayed a loving God who offered grace, while commanding salvation by faith (not works) alone.

Lawyers. This professional group was charged with studying, interpreting, and applying the Law of Moses. In many ways, their work mirrored that of the scribes who were originally priests, but whose roles included these same responsibilities, as well as copying the Law and writing documents.

Background

In Luke’s Gospel, Christ has been heading toward Jerusalem—and the Cross—since Luke 9:51. With every step, the tension builds, and Luke 13 only adds fuel to the fire. As He has done on previous occasions, to the dismay of the Jewish leaders, Jesus heals on the Sabbath. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He calls His followers for a commitment to a kingdom where humble beginnings produce something of enormous and lasting value (cf. 13:18–21). As Jesus says, the door to this kingdom is narrow. The point is not how many can come in, or how many can come in at one time. The narrow door refers to the conditions necessary for admittance.

The warning “depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” must have been, and should be, piercing to the soul (from vv. 26–27). Religious activity and ritual for ritual’s sake can numb us to what God is doing and saying and, even worse, can separate us from God.

Luke then presents Christ’s way of using a lesson on humility and the attitudes of the heart by exposing how superficial the actions of some in His audience are at common social events such as a wedding, a breakfast, a dinner, or a banquet.

How can stories like this parable help us teach and learn valuable life lessons in a different way?

At-A-Glance

  1. Humility is Not Self-Gratifying (Luke 14:7–9)
  2. Humility Waits for Recognition (vv. 10–11)
  3. Humility Seeks Out Humility (vv. 12–14)

In Depth

1. Humility is Not Self-Gratifying (Luke 14:7–9)

Jesus saw the guests pick high places of honor so that they could be seen. In response, He taught a valuable lesson through a parable. Jesus often used parables to bring about not only spiritual but cultural change in the audience’s behavior.

In the parable Jesus refers to a wedding and guests who are invited (v. 8). A wedding at that time was not a simple one-day event shared between two new families; it was a celebration that lasted several days and constituted an already established or planned relationship. Family members and townspeople could be invited. Even Jesus did not go into such a setting and assume that He would be the center of attention (John 2:1–11). It was not His celebration! The place of honor would be set for the bride and bridegroom, not those in attendance.

Too often, we try to make ourselves feel important by gaining admirers or “likes” because that is culturally acceptable. Jesus is teaching us that by assuming we should be in the spotlight, we miss the purpose of being invited and humiliate ourselves in the process. Our purpose is to focus on the one being celebrated, not proclaim our position. Does the word “humiliate” have a new meaning to you because of this parable?

 

2. Humility Waits for Recognition (vv. 10–11)

Jesus uses this parable to teach us that humility is an intentional action. As Christians, we should always consider others before thinking of ourselves. When the host sees that a person with whom they have a relationship has taken the lowest place, they will invite that guest to move to a higher level. Recognition, in this sense, is not just physical—for sake of reward—but it is also relational and spiritual.

Jesus teaches that those who are humble in their actions will soon receive recognition from those who can offer a greater reward.

Have you ever worked hard simply for the recognition, and did not receive it? Why do you think that happened?

 

3. Humility Seeks Out Humility (vv. 12–14)

Jesus was born in humble circumstances (Luke 2:7) to a family that did not have much social standing yet was spiritually the most important in any society. Through the parable, Jesus teaches that even the host of the banquet must join in creating a social hierarchy that is the reverse of what is expected. It is expected that we praise and invite those with higher social status to our celebrations, but in Jesus’ parable the least, last and outcast are to be the guests of honor. Jesus is challenging the societal expectations of His audience while affirming what the Law of God said; to care for those on the margins of society such as the poor, the widow, the orphan, the foreigner, and those with disabilities (Deuteronomy 14:28–29). The poor have no ability to repay the host financially so God promises to repay the host in blessings (Deuteronomy 15:7–11).

Why is it difficult at times for us to invite those who are not like us to Jesus?

Search the Scriptures

1 What consequences of sitting in the seat of honor does Jesus warn about (Luke 14:9)?
2. When might a host be repaid for inviting people to a banquet (vv. 12, 14)?

Discuss the Meaning

1. Thinking about your own behaviors, in what ways have you come up short on showing hospitality? How could you improve? How have you excelled in your displays of hospitality? How could you go further?
2. Tell of a moment when your Christian character matured because of a humbling experience. What would you share with a new disciple about humility?

Liberating Lesson

In our world, social status seems like it means everything. Even in the virtual world, we can create a status via social media that usually does not tell the full truth about who we are. We change profile pictures and statuses often to show others who we are at the moment. But at that moment we are offering only a sample of who God has created us to be. Christian discipleship does not typically justify our desire to be important and famous. Christian discipleship requires us to take low places of recognition, which do not always offer immediate reward. Christian discipleship speaks truth to power and offers those who are least likely to be socially important an opportunity to gain recognition.

 

Application for Activation

During this week, gauge how important other people are to you. Is your day filled with thoughts about yourself, such as what you can gain and what you wish to satisfy in your own life? God is a selfless God and yet He would have no other gods take His place in our lives. God offers love freely to all out of His selflessness. Ask yourself whether you can honestly fulfill your purpose in life by only thinking of yourself. Is your walk with Christ about making personal gains? The choice to be a disciple is simple in the beginning, but as time goes on we must understand that our choice to follow Jesus is a choice to be selfless. We can offer the love of God to those He has allowed us to come into contact with by considering their needs first.

 

Remember Your Thoughts

Special insights I have learned?

Say It Correctly

Recompence. REK-uhm-pens.

Daily Bible Readings

MONDAY
Wait to Enter the King’s Presence
(Proverbs 25:2–7a)

TUESDAY
Treat the Poor and Rich Impartially
(James 2:1–7)

WEDNESDAY
Love and Pray for the Persecutor
(Matthew 5:43–48)

THURSDAY
A Life Worthy of God’s Call
(Ephesians 4:1–7)

FRIDAY
Serving With Love on the Sabbath
(Luke 14:1–6)

SATURDAY
The Great Dinner for All Peoples
(Luke 14:15–24)

SUNDAY
Humility, the Right Path for Believers
(Luke 14:7–14)

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