Characteristics of Godliness: Compassion and Humility – Luke 14:1-24

Download MP3

(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click Here)

(If you would like to download the PowerPoint presentation for this sermon, Click Here – 145 Characteristics of Godliness – Compassion and Humility)

Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
October 1, 2017

Characteristics of Godliness: Compassion and Humility
Luke 14:1-24

Introduction – Luke 14:1

Last week I pointed out Jesus’ compassion in extending the offer of redemption and forgiveness even to those that hated Him and desired to kill Him. Another demonstration that He was the same essence as the Father and the exact representation of Him to men (John 10:30; Hebrews 1:3). God showed Moses His glory in Exodus 34:6-7 by declaring His attributes of being “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” There is compassion and forgiveness to the humble that will repent, but there will be judgment and condemnation to those that remain self-righteous and reject Jesus’ offer. (See: Expectations & Lament)

This morning we will be studying Luke 14:1-24 in which we will see another side of Jesus’ compassion along with a couple of illustrations about the humility that we should have concluding with a parable about the importance of accepting God’s invitation.

Our study begins with Luke 14:1 giving us the setting for what Jesus does and teaches. 1 It happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely.

Luke does not tell us exactly when or where this takes place other than it is a Sabbath and He in the home of a leader of the Pharisees. This is most likely taking place some place in the region of Galilee since in Luke 13:22 Jesus is proceeding on His way to Jerusalem and He does not reach it’s the border of Galilee and Samaria until Luke 17:11. The time element is simply after the events of Luke 13:31-35 when some Pharisees warn Him to leave that area because Herod Antipas want to kill Him. Jesus remained calm and explained to them that He would continue to do His ministry as He was currently doing. Jesus trusted God’s sovereignty so He was not afraid and He committed Himself to God’s timing in everything. That included eventually reaching Jerusalem where His ministry would reach its culmination in His death, burial and resurrection. Jesus’ lament about Jerusalem vividly describes the Lord’s desire and man’s rejection.

It is now a Sabbath day and Jesus has been invited into the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees to eat. There is nothing unusual about this. It was normal for travelers like Jesus to be invited to someone’s house for a meal after the worship service in the synagogue. It is common to find the same practice today.

Meals after a worship service are the opportunity for social interaction, so it is normal for people to get together to eat and spend some time with each other. The daily pressures of work are not present, so it is a great opportunity to relax and enjoy the company of others. Those who are hospitable welcome strangers to join in with their other guests. I hope this is a normal part of your life, and if not, then change your habits and invite someone to join you for lunch today. Involvement with one another is required for the body to work.

Then, just as today, if a guest had been a speaker that morning there would be effort to make sure that someone extended hospitality to him. If he was well known, such as Jesus was, then this would been easy to do since those who considered themselves to be important would have been eager to show hospitality to such a prestigious guest. That is what has occurred here.

The host is identified as “one of the leaders of the Pharisees.” This is someone who has “a prominent position in which he exercises authority” (TDNT). He is a high official with ruling authority of some sort among the Pharisees. Since most Pharisees were antagonistic toward Jesus, questions immediately rise about the reasons this man was doing this. Was he acting in good faith in practicing righteousness, or did he have ulterior motives? Our text quickly reveals the answer.

Compassion & Confrontation Luke 14:1b–6

1 “It happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely.” This man was not doing this because he was genuinely hospitable. While it was proper for him to have Jesus come share a meal, his purpose was to try and catch Jesus doing something wrong, and the man had friends over to help. Notice the end of verse one states, “and they were watching Him.” The “they” are other people who shared the same desire as this Pharisee. Most likely other Pharisees, their relatives or friends. “Watching” here is to observe closely or with diligence like the “white-tailed eagle which chases a bird” (TDNT). That is a strong indicator that what happens next has been purposely designed by them to test Jesus.

Before I go on to the next verse, let me quickly point out that this was not a surprise to Jesus. He was not going there to have a good time socializing. As was true in every situation, Jesus’ purpose was to glorify His Father by carrying out His will by speaking and acting accordingly. Jesus was not afraid to be watched closely even by His enemies because He knew that He would walk in righteousness. Every Christian should humbly have the same attitude and commitment in the various activities of life including social engagements.

Whenever you get together with other people, make glorifying God your purpose in going. If that is your purpose, then your words and actions will be directed accordingly. It will be motivation for you to talk about things that matter instead of wasting precious time talking about nonsense or gossip. You will be careful to behave in righteous behavior instead of yielding to peer pressure to do things that are foolish. You will not be afraid of even your enemies because you can be confident that the Lord will direct you and empower you through His Holy Spirit to glorify Him. You will be able to see Proverbs 28:1 fulfilled before your very eyes – “The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are as bold as a lion.”

Verse 2 explains the situation Jesus found Himself while He was there. “And there in front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy.” The sense is better expressed by the versions that translate this as, “and behold.” The text does not indicate how the man got there. It only expresses that this man was suddenly before Jesus.

We can certainly understand that a man suffering from a medical condition would want to see Jesus to get healed. Dropsy or edema refers to the swelling caused by excessive retention of fluids due to any of several serious medical disorders such as heart, kidney or liver disease. The question is how did he get in the house? The Pharisees had a very negative view of those with such medical conditions assuming they were a sign of God’s judgment for sin and therefore unclean (Numbers 5:22). The Pharisees were not known for compassion on such people and especially on a Sabbath. Their traditions allowed them to labor on the Sabbath to sustain life only and restricted them from improving the person’s condition. It appears the man was invited or welcomed for nefarious reasons.

3 And Jesus answered and spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees. The particular word here for answered (ajpokrivnomai / apokrinomai) expresses giving response to a request or a speech and not just a question. Notice that this is coupled with “spoke” instead of either being alone. This indicates that Jesus recognized that the man was there specifically because the Pharisees desired to test Him by seeing what Jesus was do. If Jesus healed the man, then Jesus would violate their Sabbath restrictions proving in their minds that He was not righteous. If Jesus had initiated what occurred, He would have just spoken to the lawyers as in verse 5 instead of answering. Jesus responds by putting them to the test.

3 And Jesus answered and spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they kept silent. And He took hold of him and healed him, and sent him away.” The Pharisees figured correctly that Jesus would heal the man because Jesus had already proven Himself to be very compassionate and had healed people on the Sabbath before. They had not figured that Jesus would question them first and put them on the horns of a dilemma. If they said it was lawful, then they would be in agreement with Jesus and could not enforce their tradition. If they said it was not lawful, there was nothing in the Mosaic Law they could cite to back up the claim, and they would also be shown to be without compassion for human suffering. And what would they do if Jesus delayed in healing the man? They did not know how to answer so they remained silent. Jesus showed that is lawful to heal on the Sabbath by firmly holding the man and healing him. The physical touch demonstrated that He did not share the Pharisees concern the man might be unclean. He then let the man go, no doubt rejoicing as he left healed.

Jesus escalates the confrontation in verse 5. 5 And He said to them, “Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” 6 And they could make no reply to this.” Their own practices demonstrated that they knew it was lawful to heal on a Sabbath because they would labor to rescue a son or ox from a well instead of just sustaining its life until the next day. If they would do this for what they considered precious, a son, or just valuable, an ox, then they could have no objection about Jesus healing a man made in the image of God. Jesus left them speechless. But Jesus does not stop there. He next goes on to comment about what He had no doubt seen many times when invited to share a meal with someone considered important.

Humility for Guests – Luke 14:7-11

A little background is in order to better understand what Jesus is describing. The formal dinning room was called a triclinium named for the three couches upon which the guest would recline that were arranged in a U shape around a central table or serving area. Up to three people could recline on each of the three couches. While it is always nice to be invited to a dinner party, your specific location around the table indicated a hierarchy of importance. The center of the middle couch was the most important position and then the spots on left and then the right. The couch to the left side was next with the place of honor again being in the middle and then on the left and right. The same was true for the couch on the right at which were the least important guests. A banquet could have additional triclinia arrangements or additional couches extended down the sides.

Formal dinners and banquets in our own culture often have a hierarchy of seating related to nearness to the head of the table, or if multiple tables, proximity to the head table. Specific protocol can vary quite a bit from culture to culture and the shapes and number of tables. Look at verses 7-11 with this idea of hierarchy in mind

7 And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. 10 “But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. 11 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus had noticed that often there would be a scramble for the best places when people would come into the triclinium, the dinning room. Because they were proud, they sought a place they believed was in keeping with their status. Among the things Jesus would later warn His disciples about the scribes and Pharisees was that “they love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues.”

Jesus warns those at this dinner about the danger of this practice and instructs them in a better way to behave in social settings such as a wedding feast. This is not worldly advice about how to manipulate a situation to get what you want. This is advice that comes straight from what they should have already known from Proverbs. Proverbs 15:33 states, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” Proverbs 16:18 warns, “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” Proverbs 29:23 instructs, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” Proverbs 25:6–7 is the principle Jesus expands on here, 6 Do not claim honor in the presence of the king, And do not stand in the place of great men; 7 For it is better that it be said to you, “Come up here,” Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince, Whom your eyes have seen.

Jesus warns them of the embarrassment of being told to move from a seat of honor and find that the only place left was the least honorable. In such a case the warnings against pride will be proven true. Jesus instructed them to be humble and do the opposite by seeking out the more lowly place. If the host leaves you there, your humility has allowed you to have sound judgment (Romans 12:3) and you have avoided the embarrassment of being publically put down. If the host moves you up, you are publically honored. The only risk of true humility is being exalted, and God will do so at the proper time (1 Peter 5:6). If you exalt yourself, you might get away with it for a while, however, since God is opposed to the proud, He will eventually humble you.

Humility for Hosts – Luke 14:12-24

Jesus continued on to give instruction about righteousness when hosting a meal for others. 12 And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. 13 “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” 15 When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

Jesus is speaking specifically to the host of the meal, but the lesson was for everyone present and for us too. He exposes two common practices which could be fine things to do provided there were correct motivations and true hospitality was also given. Jesus is not saying you must exclude friends, relatives and rich neighbors from being invited to share a meal in your home. He is negating the practice of quid pro quo in social engagements that existed then as it still does now. This is the idea that when you invite someone over it puts on them the obligation to invite you back. There is no reward for righteousness in that. Your only reward will be what pleasure you experienced at the time. So enjoy your friends and family, but true righteousness goes beyond that to also show true hospitality, a love of strangers, which includes those that cannot pay you back in kind – the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.

A worse form of this is in social climbing pointed out by Jesus here in the mention of rich neighbors. You invite someone you think is important for the express purpose that they will invite you back so that you can meet other important people you can invite so that they will invite you back so that you can meet other important people, etc. The goal is to be associated with important people so that you are considered important. Those are evil motives for which there is no heavenly reward.

If you want blessings from God, then you need to be humble and seek to be a blessing to others that cannot pay you back in kind. The poor cannot afford to host you for a similar dinner. They can only share with you the meager food they have. The crippled, lame and blind do not have the physical ability to host you in the same way, and often being poor too, they do not have the financial ability either. Hosting such people demands that you are humble and unselfish for they cannot repay you in kind or advance you in society. But as James 1:27 points out, “pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

Upon hearing this teaching, one of the other guests commented, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” That is certainly a true statement and perfectly in keeping with Jesus’ statement about being rewarded at the resurrection of the righteous. Isaiah 25:6 speaks of this future event when “The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine.” Revelation 19:9 speaks of the future blessing for those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. That is the great hope of the righteous and motivation for our present manner of life in patient anticipation of our Lord’s return (Titus 2:11-14; James 5:7-8). We live in the present with eyes firmly set on the future, for our Lord has already warned us that in the present we can expect persecution from the unrighteous (Matthew 5:10-12), but then will be the great blessings that extend through eternity.

Humility & God’s Invitation – Luke 14:16-24

Jesus uses this man’s comment to tell another parable about the importance of responding to God’s invitation when given. Let me quickly give you a little background on the customs then regarding dinner invitations. A large feast such as described in this parable would have two invitations. The first would be equivalent to “save the date” announcements. You are told the day the event will happen, but not the time and location which will be given later in a formal invitation. In those times the second invitation usually came on the day of the event when everything was ready. Since you should have been anticipating the announcement that day that it was time to come, you should have already been ready or able to get ready very quickly and go. Responses of regret of not being able to come should have been given long before the day of the event. This is still the courteous way of inviting and responding to formal events in our own time which ask for an RSVP. Understanding that there can be exceptional circumstances that can keep you from fulfilling a commitment and desire, it is rude to cancel at the last minute or just not show up.

16 But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; 17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ 19 “Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ 20 “Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ 21 “And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 “And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 ‘For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’ “

The slave goes out with the second invitation that everything was ready and it was now time to come to the great feast. What he received were lame excuses. The first man claims to have bought land sight unseen and now must immediately go see it. Really? If it did not matter before he bought it, how could it possibly matter to wait an additional day or two? The second man says he is going to try out five yoke of oxen he just purchased as if it was crucial for him to personally test each team. That’s a crooked row. You test drive a car before purchase, not after. It is already too late to test the oxen after purchase. Waiting a day or two would not matter. In addition, a man with five yokes of oxen has people working for him. He can have them test the oxen out and give him a report. The last fellow says he has married and therefore can’t come. While it is true that a newlywed man was exempt from military service for one year (Deuteronomy 20:7; 24:5), that had nothing to do with social engagements. He might as well have said, “I have married poorly and am already henpecked and my wife won’t let me go.” That man is heading for a miserable life described in Proverbs 21:19, “It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.” All three of these are deplorable excuses. It would have been better if they had just been honest enough to say they did not want to go.

Understandably the man putting on the feast was upset by such lame excuses, but he plans to have his banquet hall filled anyway. He sends his slave out to invite the poor, crippled, blind and lame to come. Those are the same groups of people Jesus had just told the leader of the Pharisees to invite to his dinner parties if he wanted to receive rewards in heaven (Luke 14:13-14). I am sure they all understood Jesus’ point in making those specific references. Those considered worthy were invited first, but they refused, so now go invite those considered unworthy.

Even with this there was still room, so the master sent the slave out to the highways and hedge lanes, the major and minor roads, to find whoever might be out there and compel them to come. The idea of compel does not have any idea of a use of force in this passage. It is the idea of overcoming their disbelief and hesitation to convince them that the invitation was genuine and they needed to come. I am sure they also understood the basic point of this parable though maybe not to the degree that God’s invitation has gone out.

The invitation went out first to those considered worthy, but they rejected it. Those would have been the religious Jews such as the Pharisees who thought they were deserving of entering the Kingdom of God. The invitation next went out to common Jews considered unworthy by the standards of Pharisees and religious leaders. Many responded, but there was still room in the kingdom. The invitation was then extended to whoever would respond. This would not only be Jews who were obvious sinners, but also to Gentiles. Both would have to be convinced that the invitation to God’s kingdom was genuine.

Jesus concludes, “For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.” The statement of the master to the slave is also the warning of the Lord to those that reject Him. Jesus has already made that point very clear in Luke 13:24-30 about those that do not strive to enter through the narrow door, and in Luke 13:34-35 about those that refused to be gathered by Him. The door will be shut and they will not be let in. Their house would be left desolate.


Jesus is compassionate and He did not let opposition keep Him from ministering to people – neither should we.

The invitation to come into God’s kingdom though faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ is still currently being proclaimed. Many are responding and being welcomed. But those who continue to refuse it must understand that there are no legitimate excuses. Neither materialism, work nor relationships justify a refusal. Neither does your background, upbringing, personal trauma nor what other people do or have done to you. The issue is believing the truth about Jesus Christ and following Him, and then beginning a new life walking with Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. Will you come?

Sermon Notes – 10/1/201
Characteristics of Godliness: Compassion and Humility – Luke 14:1-24


Jesus is ___________________even to His enemies demonstrating He is of the same essence as the Father

Jesus is somewhere in _____________ in the house of a ruler of the Pharisees sharing a meal

It was common for a traveling speaker to be shown ______________ after a synagogue worship service

The host is a leader / ruler of the ______________- but what were his motives in hosting Jesus?

Compassion & Confrontation Luke 14:1b–6

“They,” other Pharisees, were _____________ (observing closely) Jesus

Jesus was unafraid to socialize even with His enemies because He knew His ________and would carry it out

Make ______________ God your purpose wherever you go and whatever you do

Verse 2 – “and behold” – the man with dropsy was ____________ in front of Jesus

Dropsy (edema) is swelling from retention of fluids due to one of several _________- heart, kidney or liver

The Pharisees had the man there as a _________ to see what Jesus would do

Verse 3 – Jesus understood their purpose and _____________ the test put in front of Him

Verse 3 – Jesus questioned them first and put them on the horns of a ________which they would not answer

Verse 4 – In compassion, Jesus firmly held the man, ______________ him and let him go

Verse 5 – They could not object because their own ________________ included good work on the Sabbath

Humility for Guests – Luke 14:7-11

Triclinium _____________________________________________________________________________

Luke 14:7-11 – Jesus warns about pride and _____________ them a humble and better way

Jesus’ teaching was based in ______________ 15:33; 16:18; 25:6-7; 29:23;

Voluntary ____________ is godly and better than being proud and embarrassed

Humility for Hosts – Luke 14:12-24

Jesus is speaking specifically to the host of the meal, but the lesson is for ____________

Jesus is ________________the practice of quid pro quo in social engagements

Social __________________ is a worse form of this

God’s blessings come to those who are _____________ and bless others that cannot pay them back in kind

_____________ are those who will be at the banquet in God’s kingdom – Isaiah 25:6; Revelation 19:9

The blessed hope of Christ’s _________motivates Christians to godly living in the present – Titus 2; James 5

Humility & God’s Invitation – Luke 14:16-24

The ___________ invitation would be a “save the date” without time or location

The second invitation announced everything was ____________ and it was time to come

Like an RSVP, responses of regret should have been given well ___________ of the date

Luke 14:16-24 – the slave went out with the second invitation and received many lame __________

The poor, crippled, blind and lame that were noted in Luke ________________ are invited

There is still room, so those out by the highways and _________________ are invited

The invitation first went to those considered __________, the religious Jews, but they rejected it

The invitation goes next to those considered ___________, common Jews not meeting Pharisaical standards

The invitation goes next to obvious ____________ and Gentiles

Those invited who reject the invitation will be ___________ once the feast is served: Luke 13:24-30; 34-35


Do not let ______________ stop you from being compassionate toward others

God’s invitation is currently open, and those that respond in faith will be ___________

There are no legitimate ______________for rejecting God’s invitation to believe and follow Jesus Christ

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times compassion or humility are mentioned. 2) Discuss with your parents how Jesus showed compassion and what He taught about being humble

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the context for Luke 14? Where was Jesus and what had just occurred? Why would Jesus have been invited to a meal in the home of a ruler of the Pharisees? What is hospitality? Why should a Christian practice it? How do you show hospitality? Who are the “they” at the home of the Pharisees that are watching Him closely, and why are they doing that? Why would Jesus willingly go into a hostile environment? What enabled Him do to that successfully? What should you do when invited to go to a place that is not accepting of your faith? What is dropsy / edema? Why would the man want to Jesus? Why would the Pharisees want the man to see Jesus? What indicates that Jesus was aware of the evil intent of the Pharisees? How does Jesus put them on the horns of a dilemma? What is their dilemma due to Jesus question? How does Jesus show their traditions and actual practice are contradictory? How were banquets served, and how did that indicate the importance of any particular guest? What does Proverbs teach about the danger of pride and the blessing of humility? In what ways does Jesus teaching match Proverbs? Does Jesus forbid you from having friends, family relatives or rich neighbors to your home for a meal in Luke 14:12? Why is quid pro quo in hospitality a wrong motive? What motives and practices in hospitality bring God’s blessing? What is the future blessing of eating bread in the kingdom of God? Explain the practice inviting people to a large banquet at that time? How are our own practices similar? Different? Explain each of the excuses given for not coming as to whether they were legitimate or not? Who do these people represent? Why does Jesus specifically have the poor, crippled, blind and lame as the next class of people invited? Who do they represent? Who are those that would have been out by the highways and hedge lanes? Who do they represent? Why will those who gave excuses for not coming be excluded from the banquet? Have you responded to God’s invitation to believe and follow Jesus? If not, what is your excuse? Why is your excuse inadequate? What needs to change? If you are a Christian, how is God using you to invited others to join in His kingdom?

(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click Here)

Grace Bible Church Home Page || Sermon Archives

For comments, please e-mail  Church office