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Aug 15 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

August 14, 2011

He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Luke 14:35 (read entire chapter)

INTRO: Have you ever returned to a place where you grew up and thought, “It’s so much smaller than I remember”?

The physical environment did not shrink – your perspective is enlarged
– what we hold to be reality internally depends on our perspective of external reality

One of the factors that shape perspective is culture
– cultures define reality
– which is why the people in different cultures attribute illnesses either to spirits or bacteria

Cultures also manufacture reality
– for example, we are convinced that we live in the real world
– that our pursuits are based on necessity
– but Orange County is one of the most unreal cultures in the world

The myth of Disneyland is that when we drive out of the parking lot, we think we are leaving Disneyland, when all of Southern California is Disneyland.

The reason we need thousands of acres of landfill is because so much of what goes through our hands is excess
– imagine not having access to a pencil and paper–the everyday reality of many people around the world
– in our everyday reality, we throw out tons of useable paper

In his commentary on Luke, Joel Green constantly points out how “Jesus’ message and practices departed from accepted norms.” Regarding the luncheon scene in this chapter he says,

“Jesus transgresses Jewish and Greco-Roman dining conventions and reverses wider Mediterranean concerns with honor and shame because he is operating within his own, quite different set of ‘rules.’”

Jesus was free, because culture did not define his reality

The cultural illusions of Jesus’ time drove the pursuit of wealth, honor, and power
– Jesus’ message is that reality is bigger than what the eye can see or the hand can grasp
What Jesus is trying to do in this chapter, is open the eyes of the Pharisees and the crowd to the larger reality

Why does Jesus use parables and shocking demands? To stir the imagination of his audience
– it takes imagination to see beyond the reality cultures create
– ironically, it is through imagination that we get to reality
– similar to the way Einstein realized that time moves more slowly the closer you get to light speed (he came to this realization while he imagined himself riding a photon through the universe)

Imagination provides us with options we do not find in culture
– listening only to our culture, we can easily get “stuck” in a situation

If this chapter produces in us the effect that Jesus intended, we will go away with eyes that see and ears that hear

Verses 1-6, The first challenge: Messing with the Sabbath

For most of the chapter, Jesus is up against the culture of the Pharisees
– the four movements in his conversation with them are interrelated

  • The background in each movement involves eating (vv. 1, 8, 12, & 15)
    – in the third and fourth movements, the meal jumps forward to the ultimate, “heavenly feast”
  • In each movement, he uses a particular teaching device (to get through to them)

V. 2, Dropsy is an old term for Edema (fluid retention), which tells us two things about the afflicted man:

  1. His edema was a symptom of a more serious condition, such as chronic heart failure or kidney failure
  2. The build up of toxins in his system would eventually become lethal

In the NASB translation, verse 2 says “And there,” whereas the Greek text says, “And behold
– we have seen that “behold” is usually a signal for us to read the text visually
– now we can see the close connection between verses 1 and 2: First we are told that the Pharisees were watching Jesus closely, and “behold” — look at what is right in front of Jesus! A man who was suffering

In verse 4, Jesus “Took hold of him and healed him” – this is the only time Jesus healed a person this way
– perhaps Jesus wanted to strengthen the image in his argument of someone pulling out a child or ox that fell into a well

In this instance, Jesus’ teaching device is an argument from logic:
1.) The logic of what is proper to the Sabbath and
2.) the logic of responding to a child or animal in need of being rescued

Verses 7-11, The second challenge: Messing with honor

Dinner Speech Pt. 1 – Jesus has something to say to the guests
– in their culture, there was no dishonor in seeking honor and maneuvering to win honor
– but doing those things could backfire

Here Jesus uses an argument from “wisdom”
– that is, from the wisdom literature of the Hebrew Scriptures (Pr. 25:6-7)

Jesus, however, is thinking beyond this one event and example
– in verse 11 he presents a revolutionary idea of how to achieve honor and status
– not by maneuvering yourself into it, but by moving in the opposite direction — honor through humility

Verses 12-14, The third challenge: Messing with give and take

Dinner Speech Pt. 2 – Jesus has something to say to the host
– he uses the same form to construct this speech as the speech to the guests

  • vv. 8 & 12, “When invited” / “When you give a luncheon”
  • vv. 8 & 12, “do not take the place of  honor” / “do not invite your friends”
  • in v. 8, “for” in Greek is mepote, which means lest or otherwise, as it is translated  in v. 12
  • vv. 10 & 16, “But when you are invited” / “But when you give”

In a culture of scarcity, giving a gift to another created a debt or obligation
– in this light, notice how Jesus qualified the “neighbor” as “rich”
– feeding the “poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” would be considered a waste, since they would be unable to reciprocate

Jesus used, in this instance, an argument based on calculations regarding a future payback
– Jesus did not tell his host that he should not calculate the potential payback of his gifts, but to think bigger
– by investing in the outcast now, he could find himself receiving repayment “at the resurrection of the righteous”

Verses 15-24, The fourth challenge: Messing with assumptions

In verse 15, it almost seems like this person is taking issue with what Jesus said about being “blessed” in verse 14
– this other dinner guest tries to one-up Jesus by suggesting that anyone who makes it to the heavenly feast will be blessed
– in taking over the conversation in this way, he puts himself forward as the expert

Jesus does not contradict his statement, but merely points out that there’s a big hole in it
– having an invitation is worthless if you don’t show up for the party
– despite the promised blessing, people aren’t as willing to respond as one may think
(this section revisits themes we went over in chapter 13:25-30)

Note that the list of those brought into the “big dinner” is identical to the list Jesus gave the host (vv. 13 & 21)

Jesus presents this argument in the form of a parable (he makes them think)

What prevented the people in the parable from attending the dinner?
– the priority they give to material possessions and personal relationships (note these things)
– these are not wrong in themselves – and they won’t go away
– but they pushed God out of the hearts of the invited guests

The tension in these interactions is not with the Pharisees per se
– rather, it is a conflict with their illusions and what was tugging on their loyalty (Lk. 16:14)

Verses 25-35, The fifth challenge: Messing with their values

Jesus is back with the crowd, but themes from his last two talks still linger in this section

Regarding the excuses for not going on with Jesus (possessions and personal relations; vv. 26-27):
– a disciple is not the person who wants to be one, but who is one
– “hate” is not how a person feels regarding another, but how he treats another
– the way a disciple is to treat anything that threatens to displace Jesus

If you don’t have time for Jesus, what is filling up your time?
If there is no room for Jesus in your thoughts, what is consuming your thoughts?

Jesus requires a radical break from whatever is not him
– even when it means detaching from what is most near and dear

Regarding the calculations we make regarding the future (vv. 28-33):
– Jesus gives them information to help them calculate their next move
– they can determine for themselves whether they can accept his all-or-nothing demand

Tasteless salt is the disciple who gives up when the cost becomes too great
– saltiness is the willingness to be something different, something new
– to be seasoning in a world of bland

CONC: Jesus was born to rattle human cultures and their stable realities

Mary’s vision in 1:51-53

He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.

Jesus turns our culture on its head so that we can see through it
– then we are set free to be in the world without being controlled by it
– when you look out at the world as Jesus did, you become dangerous

To get all this planted in us this week, let’s take one more step toward Jesus
– go out of our way to give help to someone else
– or give something away to someone who is needier than ourselves

Now, may the Lord bless us,
keep away all evil,
and lead us to eternal life.

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