For those who exalt them selves will be humbled and those humble themselves will be exalted. Luke 14:11
In the beginning of Luke 14 Christ is visiting a prominent Pharisee, where he happened to be carefully watched by temple leaders, as he heals a man with swelling in His joints. Then He speaks to the men about healing on the Sabbath.
After that He sees the men choosing carefully their seats… He tells them this parable.(Often times when Jesus speaks parables we take a literal interpretation in hast, which just happen to be very easy and most times applicable to life, but here clearly He is speaking to the depths of who we are.)
8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
In the past I have used this parable for an easy “thing” to do to try and be pious. And I can bet you money that the “prominent Pharisees” took notes of this good “teaching” and used it to try and gain honor in the future. But the point is not the honor or the seats.
Jesus here, I believe speaks to the very heart of what it means to be religious. He sees leaders of the Jewish religion and speaks to them of what it means to seek after the glory and honor from God. Jesus knows that He had come into the world to take the lowest possible seat among all of the people in the world and even to be terminated from the face of the earth.
So He speaks to us telling us to humble our selves and we will be exalted. I believe the key word here is our selves. The prominent Pharisee was quick to take the helm of leadership in the Jewish temple and desired to be known among the others as honorable, He probably wore the finest garments with the best looking tassels. He probable spoke to most high and lofty scripted prayers and said many things that dishonored others before Him. But Jesus speaks to the heart of the power of religion, the disciplined self. I don’t think He was speaking of the literal seat at a banquet I think that was not the point at all.
Jesus spent 30 years preparing for His three years of public ministry. He grew depths in God that nothing could shake. He had been the Son of God his whole life and knew His calling. (I don’t care to wrestle with the theology of this statement here, but if you have a comment go ahead and share I would be grateful.) But He humbled himself. He knew that His calling alone to the thrown of the Messiah would not be enough, He needed to grow in wisdom and favor before God and man. He needed to be completely obedient to the Father in all things so that at the perfect time and position He would bring glory to the one who sent Him.
As I begin to come to terms with this teaching I see that what comes out of the ground is not the point in the Kingdom of God here on earth. God wants to grow deep and wide roots in Him the part of the Kingdom that is unseen in the heavenly realm. He wants you to develop a high caliber connection with Himself so that you can be like a tree planted by the river. I see people like Martin Luther King Jr. (who is one of my most revered heroes of the faith) and notice that he was not just a preacher; He was a warrior in the spirit who on occasion out of the overflow of a powerful life with God spoke words that were learned from that life. At all costs I see that as my calling to be a preacher is a heavy one. I see that living a life of radical obedience to God is the source where I will have the spiritual influence and honor that will change and impact lives.
In Luke 14:25 after this parable on the seating at the wedding banquet and other parables, He turns to the large crowds that were following Him and said that…
26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even life itself—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. 34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?
Jesus never stops wanting to pour out His power and authority into your life. He looks to and fro seeking a heart that is completely turned towards Him. But the thing is that if you are not careful your self will take a position which will dam up your ability to be changed and developed.
I pray that as you follow Jesus today you would see Him stop and turn and around, and hear Him say “whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”