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God’s Word for You

Luke 14:7-11 Friend, move up higher

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, September 19, 2018

7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor at the dinner, he told them this parable.

At this time, dining at a formal or fancy meal was done reclining on a couch, resting on one’s left side, and eating with the right hand. Because of this posture, the places to the left side of the table were the prominent positions since one could see everyone without having to turn around to speak. Seeing the Pharisees scrambling childishly for the better seats, Jesus told them a parable. He disguised his comparison (thinly) as a wedding banquet and not the very meal at which they sat, but his application is not about table manners. In verse 11 he makes an application toward eternal life.

8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not take the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host.  9 Then the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then you would have to move down to the lowest place, humiliated.  10 But when you are invited, go and take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you.  11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The story part of the parable was crystal clear to Jesus’ listeners. But the application, the Lord’s conclusion in verse 11, must have given them a lot to think about. God will exalt the one he wants to exalt. Joshua did not seize power over Israel after Moses died, even though Moses had named him as his successor. Joshua waited for the Lord to say, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses” (Joshua 3:7). And yet, exalted as Joshua was, his tribe (Ephraim) which continued to be “exalted in Israel” (Hosea 13:1a) fell into disrepute and sin. “He became guilty of Baal worship and died,” was God’s judgment on the tribe (Hosea 13:2). One great and godly man does not give the rest of his family a license to sin as they please.

Jesus warns that God will exalt those he wants to exalt. Anyone who tries to puff himself up will only blow himself to smithereens. When the sons of a Jewish priest tried to drive out demons and make a name for themselves, the demons turned on them and thrashed them, humiliating and harming them (Acts 19:13-16). And Elymas the Sorcerer tried to make a name for himself on Salamis by opposing Paul, Barnabas and Mark, but Paul struck him blind (Acts 13:1-1). Our attitude should be one of “true humility toward all” (Titus 3:2) and toward God. Remember wicked King Manasseh, who murdered Isaiah and who certainly persecuted the other prophets of his time like Hosea and Micah. Yet when he heard the law and gospel proclaimed, he became terrified, and in his terror of hell he remembered God’s promises, turned back to the Lord his God, and he repented. “In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea” (2 Chronicles 33:12-13). God mocks the proud, “but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34).

Set your goal on eternity with Jesus through his blood, the atonement of your sins. Picture yourself there in the resurrection, lifted high to heaven and brought into the banquet with our God the King, and as you and I look for seats, the Lord himself will come to you, gentle Christian, and say, “Friend, move up higher.” And I will cheer as you go.

Some believers writing outside of Scripture have said many similarly profound things. “You are the God of the humble” (Judith 9:11); “Be very humble, since the wages of the godless are fire and worms” (Sirach 7:17); “We do not rely on the merits of our ancestors and of our kings to offer you our humble pleas, Lord our God” (Baruch 2:19). And in the Apostolic Fathers: “Let the humble not draw attention to himself, but let him leave it to others to speak well of him” (1 Clement 38:2). “Do not let yourself be bold with the high, but walk with righteous and humble men” (Didache 3:9). “Do not exalt yourself, but always be humble” (Barnabas 19:3). “Whoever has the spirit from above is gentle, quiet and humble” (Hermas, Mandate 11:8), and “Continue to be humble and serve the Lord with a pure heart” (Hermas, Similitude 7:7).

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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