It was in Mark 6:2 when the crowd beheld the marvelous works of the master that they wondered out aloud and quipped, "what wisdom is this?". This has been my reaction ever since the Luke challenge began, especially as I read through the 14th chapter of Luke as Jesus proceeded to educate the people present at the dinner party of one of the notable Pharisees in the land on what you will call table etiquette at parties or simply party etiquette? Whatever you call it there was nothing that escaped the master's knowledge and wisdom and his power!
THE HOLY GHOST PARTY
The power part first. There was at the party, a man suffering from dropsy, a condition of swollen joints, and then the master stretch forth his hands and healed him!
"And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;" Luke 14:2-4 KJV
Even at a social party, Jesus Christ was having a Holy Ghost party! And I noticed this wasn't the first time he will use a social gathering to showcase the power of God! The first recorded miracle of the master was at a wedding! And as I think about this I have had to ask myself how many of the master's miracle were within the temple, the place of worship? It seems to me that out in the marketplace is where God wants his power demonstrated because the essence of miracles is to make people believe in the words of God through the works of God.
The Apostles followed in this same pattern of the master, the majority of the miracles recorded in Acts of the Apostles were miracles out in the public place, market place, social gathering. The display of this power of God in the marketplace secured many convictions and additions to the church!
Acts 8:6-8 provides us with an example
"And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city".Acts 8:6-8 KJV
It is time for the modern-day church too to bring joy to our cities. Our miracles must take place out where the sinners are! Out on the streets, out in the marketplace, out in the social gathering is where we must showcase the power of God to a dying world.
It's high time we use the master's approach.
Now the master was not only demonstrating God's power out in the market place or social gathering but as also exhibiting and displaying the wisdom of God
TABLE ETIQUETTE AS TAUGHT BY JESUS
Using parables as always the master taught valuable wisdom that should guide our conduct in public settings or parties! A friend once told me that he always sits at the back in any event because Jesus said never to sit in front! Well, I am not sure the master said never to sit in front but the master does teach to always seek out a lowly position until your host takes you to the highest position. I have seen what the master said here played out in several events. I have seen men who were sitting in high tables eventually 'dragged' down to low tables and vice versa. The key wisdom here is when you know your place you will never be out of place! When you occupy your place you can never be removed from your place! For in life, everyone has a place!
This is a powerful piece of wisdom that people have used time and again with proven results. The other part of the advice by Jesus is what hasn't played out much in our lives. Let's read the second piece of advice, the advice to the host of the party.
INVITATION TO NOBODIES
In Luke 14:12-14 we read:
"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 neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just"
Luke 14:12-14 KJV
The first advice was to the guests, this second advice is to the host, and it's as simple as it comes: invite to your party people that can be termed as the misfits of the society, men, and women who in no way may be able to return the favor to you by inviting you to their own party. Simple advice but one which I have found out over the years has not been practiced much. And this is the reason I am writing on this. Why has this advice of the master difficult to practice even to the rich? Why is it difficult to practice even as believers that are expected to have a large heart for the less privileged in society? I have come with questions on this and not answers, so if you have any thought please do share with me.
HOW TO HATE YOUR WIFE AND YOUR MOTHER?
Luke 14 chapter ended on something that borders on our followership of Christ: the cost of discipleship! Our salvation is free but discipleship of the Lord is costly. And Jesus used quite some stunning words to convey this to us!
"And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple"
Luke 14:25-27 KJV
Jesus here requires every disciple to hate those whom He elsewhere commands us to love. We are told that to be His disciple one must “hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters” (v. 26). Elsewhere, however, we are not even given the luxury of hating our enemy, let alone those nearest and dearest to us. How, then, can Jesus command us to hate those whom we love and those whom we are elsewhere commanded to love?
Jesus’ words are even more perplexing in the light of the very last words of the prophet Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, as we have it. In speaking of the coming of John the Baptist, of the Messiah, and of the Kingdom of God, the prophet concludes his prophecy with these words:
“And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:6, NASB).
If the coming of the Christ was to reunite parents and children, how can Jesus tell His disciples they must hate parents and children?
The key to resolving this tension is to be found in an accurate definition of the term “hate” as it is used here. That we shall do in a moment. We will then consider the remainder of this text and its implications for 21st-century disciples. Let us listen well to these difficult, but important, words of our Lord.
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:25-28).
The words of Jesus are stunning. I can almost see the crowd reel in shock at the demands which Jesus placed on His disciples. The clear inference of Jesus’ words is that one can “go along with Jesus” without even being a true believer (cf. John 6:66). I think it is also implied that one can “come to Jesus” in saving faith, without becoming a disciple, a committed follower (cf. John 2:23-25). These people were, as yet, only followers, on-lookers.
If any term is crucial to our understanding of Jesus’ words here it is the term “hate.” What does Jesus mean when He says that one cannot be His disciple without hating? Fortunately, the Bible gives us a very clear definition of this term, beginning in the Old Testament.
In Genesis chapter 29 we find the story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. We know that Leah was Jacob’s first wife, not due to his decision, but to Laban’s deception. Jacob really loved Rachel. In verse 30 we are told that Jacob “loved Rachel more than Leah. “ In verse 31, “the Lord saw that Leah was unloved.” In verse 33, Leah named her second son Simeon, because, she said, “the Lord has heard that I am unloved.” This last term, “unloved” literally is “hated,” as the marginal note in the NASB indicates. Rachel was loved more than Leah; Leah was unloved; Leah was hated. To be hated here is to be loved less than another.
In Exodus, the same sense of “hate” is found. In chapter 20, God is giving Israel the Law. He begins by commanding Israel to have “no other gods” before Him (Exodus 20:3). In verse 5, however, God said,
“You shall not worship them or serve them [other gods]; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.”
To have other gods is to love them above God. To have other gods is to hate God.
In Romans 9:13, we read Paul’s citation of Malachi 1:2: “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”
We know that God chose Jacob above Esau, He gave Jacob the preeminence and blessings that normally came to the oldest son. But God did not hate Esau in the way we think of hate. We see God’s compassion on Esau and on his descendants. You will recall that we were told that Esau was blessed and even came visiting Jacob showing off how God has blessed him. God cannot hate Esau that much and still bless him! God hated Esau in the sense that He loved Jacob more.
If we are not yet convinced, then let us listen to the Lord’s words in the parallel gospel account:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39, NASB).
Here, Matthew’s wording does not speak of “hating” father and mother and other loved ones, but of loving them more than our Lord. Thus, to “hate” in our text means “to love less than.” Jesus is saying that in order to be His disciple men and women must love Christ more than their parents, more than their mate, more than their children, more than their sisters and brothers. This is the cost of discipleship, JESUS must be the real BAE - Before Anyone Else!