Luke 13-15
(An Open Invitation)
October 27th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

"The master then ordered the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled. For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.’”

- Luke 14:23-24 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

In these chapters Jesus continued teaching and healing. He also continued to accept invitations to dine with the Pharisees and shared the parables of the Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep, and the Lost Son. These parables and accounts are only found in Luke.

Within this group of scriptures there are two accounts of healing on the Sabbath. Jesus faced criticism the first time, but anticipated it the next time and reminded the audience of the emergency tasks they would do on the Sabbath if the occasion arose.

While at the Pharisees house for dinner, Jesus uses the image of a feast as a teaching opportunity, as described in chapter 14. First, he noticed how the guests were knocking each other over to get the best seats, so he advised them to not take the best seats, as they may be humiliated if asked to move down the chain. Instead they should take the lesser seats and perhaps will be asked to move up.

To the host, he says invite those who are least able to return the favor. Then he tells the Parable of the Great Feast. The first group that was invited declined the invitation because they were too busy taking care of their material possessions, so the master goes out and invites the lower classes and the lame and anyone who happens to be walking down the road.

In chapter 15, Jesus begins with the Parable of the Lost Sheep, emphasizing that the shepherd would leave all the other sheep to find one. He then tells the parable of a woman who loses a coin and rejoices when it was found. Finally, he tells the story of the Prodigal Son. The wayward son spends his father’s inheritance, ends up in distress, and returns home.

Luke writes that the father sees him coming back, so “he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him (Luke 15:20 - NIV).” The father forgives him and kicks off a spontaneous party to celebrate. The good son is put off by this reward for a sinner, but the father explains the importance of the return of one who was lost.

Reflection and Application

Today’s reading provides a clear picture of the paths available for our healing and salvation.

For Jesus there are no barriers. He is the Lord of the Sabbath and can heal on whatever day suits him. His invitation for healing is good 24/7. Moreover, there was never any Mosaic law forbidding healing on the Sabbath:

In a lecture on the 4th Commandment, the Reverend Greg Doll advised his audience that the Sabbath was not meant to be a binding legalistic requirement. Doll emphasized that it’s a distortion to think about it this way, as the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day and as the Puritans did in North America during the 17th Century. Instead it should be considered an opportunity to rest and commune with God (1). To withhold healing on that day might be considered as cruel as leaving an animal or a child in a ditch, as pointed out by Jesus.

Just as the Pharisees fell into a trap of thinking that healing could only take place six days a week, we may fall into the trap of thinking we can only pray or worship at certain times. No! We can pray anytime, anywhere. And healing can take place at any time, even when least expected.

Here is a direct message for the Pharisees or anyone else who assumes he or she has been specially chosen by God. When invited to the feast, we should remember to not tell God we are too busy to accept his invitation. In the parable of the Great Feast Jesus is implying that some people have missed God's message because they were too occupied with their material possessions. Solomon warned about this danger in Ecclesiastes 5-6, which includes the following verses:

God's feast of everlasting bread is more important than anything else of which we can think. Let us be sure that our possessions do not consume us and distract us from what is truly important. Instead, let us make sure we accept the invitation to the Great Feast. When we get there, we ought to be prepared to serve, and not think we deserve some type of honored position.

Jesus came first to serve the Jews, but many rejected them. He had always planned to save the Gentiles also, but this was a subsequent part of his ministry. Nevertheless, many of them recognized the value of the invitation before the people on the first list did.

What if we have already turned down the invitations or used to attend the feasts, but have gotten busy with other things? Well, if we are in that category, then these three parables of the lost are for us. We can be assured that God will rejoice if we return to him, as did the father of the Prodigal Son. This Parable is one of the most straight-forward and encouraging of them all. Most of us have played the role of the Prodigal Son at some point in our lives, and we may know others who confess to us that they are playing the role now. If we are in doubt about the depth of God’s Grace we can point ourselves and friends to this Parable.

Note that the father “ran” out to meet the son. This was not normal behavior for a man of that time and place. First, they wore long robes, making it hard to move quickly. Second, it just wasn’t proper or dignified. Regardless, the father was so overjoyed that he ignored the constraints of clothing and custom and high-tailed down the driveway to greet his son. It is the same with God.

In fact, he might even be out looking for us before we even head for home, as was the shepherd in the first parable.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What was the most recent thing that you lost and found?
    2. What type of activities do you consider acceptable and unacceptable on the Sabbath?
    3. To whom can you offer forgiveness today?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know that you have an open invitation to accept your Grace and join in the eternal feast. Help us to set our priorities right so that we accept the offer, regardless of our situation, and help us to encourage others.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns


    (1) Doll, The Reverend Gregory, “The 4th Commandment,” part of a lecture series on the 10 Commandments, September – December 2011

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading:Luke 16-18 (Jesus Challenges Our Understanding of Order)

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