Sunday, April 3, 2022 Brad Barrett
The Way of a Disciple
In case you’re not familiar with the Star Wars world, there’s a show about a guy some call, “Mando.” He’s a Mandalorian. One thing he likes to say is, “This is the way.” I’ve learned from Star Wars geeks that the Way of the Mandalore is essentially a religion followed by some Mandalorians.
I have now exhausted my knowledge …and my interest in that topic.
But I would like to launch from there into a far, far more important topic. There is a man named Jesus who said something similar, except he was talking about himself.
He said in John 14:6, “I am the Way.” He is not just A way. He is THE way. The one way to eternal life. The one way to heaven and forgiveness of sins.
And out of that, Jesus has one overarching call to mankind to believe in him, follow him, and love him with all our hearts.
It is “the way” of being a disciple of Jesus. It is “the way” we are to live our lives.
Open your Bibles to Luke 14. We are in a sermon series going through the Gospel of Luke. This Gospel is a story primarily focused on the three-year long ministry of Jesus Christ, culminating with his death and resurrection.
A theme will see here in chapter 14 and in several of the following chapters is about being a disciple of Jesus.
The word “disciple” means to be a learner. A follower. A student.
So disciples of Jesus are to follow him. Not simply in external moral behavior, but with our whole hearts. With our lives. Wherever he goes, we go. Whatever he says, we say.
This…. is the way.
Luke 14:7-14 Seeking Honor and Reward
The scene opened in vs. 1 that we read last Sunday. Jesus is at a dinner hosted by a leader of the Pharisees. .
The Pharisees were a small but powerful sect of Jews. And there were Jewish lawyers present, too. They were experts in the Law of God. With just a few exceptions, both groups were largely antagonistic towards Jesus. They hated him. They were religious on the outside, they were proud and immoral on the inside.
First, Jesus speaks to the dinner guests.
7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them,
8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,
9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.
10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.
11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Now he speaks to the host of the dinner.
12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.
13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,
14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
Whenever Jesus was with people, he was very observant. He didn’t miss anything. And he took advantage of teachable moments.
He notices at this dinner with wealthy, influential guests that many of the guests are vying for better seats at the table. Seats that reflect more importance and greater honor. Essentially, the guests are trying to make themselves look and feel more important.
So Jesus offers a parable for the sake of these guests. When you go to this wedding feast, you should position yourself in the lowest place. The most humble place. Then if the host offers you a higher position, you will be honored. But if you take the highest seat and the host says, “Go sit in the lower place,” you will be humbled.
The point of the parable is vs. 11: It is one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith: If you exalt yourself, you will be humbled. If you humble yourself, you will be exalted.
What’s fascinating here is that Jesus does not discourage a desire to be exalted. A desire to be honored and noticed and recognized. This may surprise us, but by implication, Jesus is actually encouraging them (and us) to seek honor and recognition.
But here’s the crucial question: What is the distinction between the way these guests were seeking it and how they should have sought it?
They were to let others and God honor them in due time, not to fight to get it on their own.
This is the crucial point: We as followers of Jesus should not squash our desire to be honored and noticed. It seems that God has hardwired us to want honor. To be significant and important. But what we must do is to wait patiently for it, to wait for the day when Jesus himself will grant it.
This is not a natural human way of thinking. The natural way is to maneuver and demand honor and attention and praise NOW. But Jesus’ way is to live a life of humble service. And a life of faith in a good and just God who rewards and honors those who follow him. This is the way of a disciple of Jesus.
We see Jesus himself living this out in the most powerful way in the gospel story.
Philippians 2:8–9 ESV And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name…
Though Jesus deserved all honor and praise, he humbled himself for our sake and in obedience to the Father. As Incarnate God, he shockingly lowered himself to take our sin upon his back and die. And through the Son’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, God the Father has now exalted the Son beyond anyone and anything as Lord of heaven and earth.
As God has exalted his Son, he will do similarly with all of his Son’s followers.
This is the way.
Jesus is finished speaking to the dinner guests. Now he speaks to the host.
He invited primarily important people. Friends, rich neighbors. Jesus is not against having friends for dinner.
What he is against is when the motivation is to receive something back from the guests…to be invited to more dinners with other important and wealthy people…to gain more honor and more favors from all the cool people.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke against self-exaltation and seeking reward on the earth.
Matthew 6:2–4 ESV Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
If we demand and seek our reward from people here and now, fine. But that’s all we’ll ever get.
Notice very importantly, Jesus WANTS you to receive rewards. What does Jesus say is the way… the way to seek and receive those rewards? Serve not all the important people. Serve the lowly. The broken. The disfigured. The poor. The outcasts. They will be unable to pay you back here on earth. And then… then God Almighty, the King, the Owner of all things….HE will reward you at the resurrection.
So listen to this: Our problem is not that we want reward. Our problem is that we want it NOW. We see this in a couple of ways:
- We push ourselves forward so that we can get back now. We are driven, even obsessed to gain as much as we can as soon as we can. In the process, we push Jesus out.
- We find ourselves completely lacking in notice and praise and reward from others, and it crushes us. And we despair.
Before we move on to the next passage, let’s ask, How do we apply Jesus’ words here? I will offer two things:
Humbly wait for God to exalt us. (vs. 7-11)
This is a call to a life of faith. It’s call to be heavenly minded, not earthly minded. To believe that God honors in his timing.
How do we start humbling ourselves?
Know God in his greatness, and know in comparison how small we are. Our natural way of thinking is that we are big and that God is small. But that is backwards. We must get a correct view of a great God. When we do, we are almost automatically humbled.
And importantly, we humble ourselves not only because God is great and we are small, we humble ourselves because God himself is humble. We need to look no further than to go back to Philippians 2 that we just read to understand the humility of our Savior who lowered himself to the lowest place by taking our sins upon his shoulders and dying in our place.
Where do we begin to know God and his greatness? The Scriptures. Just open this book and read it every day. Virtually every book of the Bible will reveal God in his glory, greatness, and power. If you want a place to start this afternoon, read the Psalms.
We must know God for who he truly is, not some God we have fabricated in our mind and from our experiences.
Very simply, pray things like this:
“Lord, would you open my eyes to see your greatness? Your power and glory..”
Pray, “Lord, are there any ways that I need to reject my pride and humble myself before you and people?”
And, “Lord, would you help me to believe your promise that you will reward me someday, an exaltation that is glorious beyond my imagination.”
One sure way to kill our pride and walk in humility is to actively serve others. Willing to do lowly tasks. Will to associate with lowly people. Willing to serve behind the scenes where no one notices and no one thanks us. Not to be noticed or praised or paid back now, but because we love people as Jesus has loved us. Nor do we serve others to vainly seek to make ourselves more righteous before God. Only Christ on the cross can do that.
For the first year or two in my new Christian life when I was in college at Iowa State, I didn’t like the word “serve.” It was too humbling. It seemed demeaning.
But the way of a humble man or woman of God is genuine, selfless service. By faith let us humble ourselves before the Lord. And in his loving and wise timing, God will exalt us.
Another application of this passage:
Live for eternal reward
Don’t suppress a desire to be rewarded. To be paid back for sacrifices you have made for others in the Lord’s name. In fact, long for reward. Long for payback. But instead of demanding and obsessing over reward now, Jesus calls us to wait in patience and faith for it to come at the end of time. At the resurrection.
God will never forget what you have done in his Son’s name. Never.
Hebrews 6:10 NIV God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
The Lord notices you. He cares about all you are doing. What you do in his name and out of love you have for him….he will never forget it. In fact, God would be unjust….evil…to forget and not care about your service for him.
Let that sink in. God has committed himself to remembering you and rewarding you as you love him and serve him.
Last month we had a men’s event, and Nate Carr, former Olympic medalist spoke. He has won many medals in wrestling. Three NCAA national championships while he was at Iowa State. An Olympic bronze medalist. It’s an impressive resume. But he said that such things which seem so glorious are “perishable crowns.” They are earthly rewards that are fading away, and at death they die with us. Instead, we ought to live for imperishable crowns. To live for reward and honor from God that will be given to us in heaven and that will last for all eternity.
Ironically, I could give a sermon on humility and reward, but do it in a way that seeks it all here and now. To get my praise and acknowledgement and payback from you all now. If I did that, I would miss out on a much greater reward at the resurrection of the righteous.
A frequent prayer of mine for several months has been King David’s prayer:
Psalm 19:14 NIV May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
When I meet with people, this has been my prayer. When I am delivering a sermon, this has been my prayer.
My battle is to do everything to please the Lord first, people second. In eternity, you won’t stand before me nor I before you. Each of us will stand before the Lord. The way of a follower of Jesus is to live first and foremost in a way that pleases the Lord, and in faith and patience wait for him to reward us on the day of the resurrection.
Luke 14:15-24 The Great Invitation
Let’s continue reading. The setting is the same: still at a dinner in the house of a Pharisee.
15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.
17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’
19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’
20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’
21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’
22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’
23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.
24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’ ”
In vs. 15, why did this man say this? “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God.” It sounds like a true statement, so is there a problem?
Based on Jesus’ response in the parable, it seems this man’s heart was actually cold towards the Lord. It seems the man was assuming he would eat in the kingdom of God due to his lofty position as a Pharisee or influential man. That is why Jesus launches into the parable.
The parable illustrates God is inviting Israel into his kingdom. Largely they are rejecting him. They have excuses. They are busy with their jobs. Distracted by other things. And God is righteously angry with them.
Then since God’s passion is to have many in his kingdom, he opens wide the invitation. He will turn his focus from Israel…and instead, he will call an unexpected group into his kingdom. The tax collectors and sinners. The Gentile world.
Sadly, the majority of Israel was going to reject their long-awaited Messiah. But happily, the rest of the world was going to be more responsive to the gospel.
As Luke wrote this Gospel decades later, his Gentile readers would have found great encouragement from this, knowing that they were invited into the kingdom. And Luke’s Jewish readers would have (or should have) grieved over the history of their people’s rejection of the Lord.
We see this throughout Luke’s Gospel: Those expected to find life did not, and those not expected did.
What should we make of these words from Jesus?
Let me offer two potential responses from us to Jesus:
First, be warned.
If we are making excuses to come to Jesus, be warned. He offers eternal life. He offers us a feast in the kingdom of God, and if we reject the offer, we will find ourselves facing God’s anger.
When I was 19 years old, I heard the gospel, that eternal life comes only through Jesus. But I resisted for several months. I wouldn’t let go of my way of life. My partying, my friends. I loved those things more than I loved Jesus. Finally God graciously pried open my blind eyes through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit to see that nothing was better than Jesus.
Jesus’ words in Luke 9:25 express what I needed to hear: “What shall it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?”
Do we have any pride and excuses that are keeping us from Jesus? Is it worth losing our souls? Jesus warns us.
A second response we can have to Jesus’ offer:
If you feel that you are categorically like the people Jesus ends up inviting—the poor, the crippled, blind and lame…those who seem to be at the outer edges of the kingdom—then you have a glorious opportunity.
Jesus, the Creator and Savior of the world, the King of kings and Lord of lords…that Jesus is inviting you to share in his kingdom. He is inviting you to share in himself.
You may feel like an outcast in this world, but if so, you are just the kind of person Jesus is inviting.
The proud and wealthy and influential and religious may miss out on him. But he has invited you. He calls to you to himself.
And if you already are a follower of Jesus but you still feel like an outcast, broken, emotionally disabled, then take heart. Remember that Jesus has called you. Rejoice that he has noticed you, loves you, and calls you.
Luke 14:25-35 The Cost of Discipleship
The scene and the topic now switch. He is no longer in the house of the Pharisee but is out with the crowd of followers. Many of them are following, not because they believe in him and love him but for other reasons: amazement over the astonishing miracles, free food. The “Wow” factor.
So he offers some very challenging and polarizing words to the crowd.
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them,
26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?
35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Jesus is not interested in satisfying the entertainment itches of the crowds. He is not interested in all the cool people hanging out with him. He desires followers. So he is articulating what a true disciple of his is. .
Vs. 26 has troubled many Christians over the years. Jesus does not really want us to hate our family. Rather, in that century, a dramatic contrast was common in Hebrew language. It’s an expression to show priority.
What he is after is to love him more. We love him so much that, compared to all other loves, it’s like hatred.
He calls people to bear their cross. To be willing to suffer because we follow him. He is saying, “If you want to follow me, recognize what it may cost you.”
Even today, many people around the world live in environments so hostile to Jesus that when they hear of the gospel of Christ, they instinctively know that this is serious business. Even their own families may hate them for it.
Following Jesus may cost us something. A job. Finances. Reputation. Family relationships.
What Jesus is after is for us to acknowledge that cost ahead of time lest we approach him casually or half-heartedly.
So what’s an application from Jesus’ words here? Let me offer this one thing:
Vs. 25-35 Give Jesus the key to every room in your heart.
He is Master, so give him the Master Key. Hold nothing back from him. Renounce all, he says. All our dreams. Our families. Our possessions. Our comforts.
Why? He is Creator, Lord, Savior, and Judge. He is worthy to be preeminent in our hearts.
He has loved us with his all, and he asks us to love him with our all.
2 Corinthians 5:14–15 NIV For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Christ came to give us life. And now with that new life, he calls us to live for him. It’s the only logical, reasonable response.
So we give Jesus the Master Key to every room in our hearts.
Start by praying, “Lord, is there anything in my life that I’m clinging to and won’t let you speak to me about?” We might be clinging too tightly to possessions. To investments. To career. Even our own family.
Sometimes we pray such things, and the answer is quickly revealed to our hearts. But sometimes, there is a room in our hearts that we have kept locked for years. And we don’t let anyone in. Not even Jesus.
If that describes you, you may need someone to help you with this. Talk to me this week. Talk to a godly follower of Jesus whom you know. Freedom and joy await us.
As we unlock those doors, we will find Jesus to be gentle and good.
The way of a disciple is beautiful and glorious. It is the way of faith in a gracious God.
- To humbly wait for God to exalt us in his timing.
- To live for his reward at the day of the resurrection.
- To receive Jesus’ invitation to the heavenly feast, and rejoice in that privilege.
- To joyfully give Jesus access to every room in our hearts
This is the way.
All of this takes faith in a great God who is very good. It takes a heavenly mindedness to live this way.
If eternity with God through Christ is true….if he is Rewarder and Savior and Judge…if he is good and kind and attentive…then we can joyfully commit our lives to him in faith and in patience to wait for something far superior in the next life.