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Feb 12, 2023

Prepared for Purpose 06

Prepared for Purpose 06

Speaker: James Gallaher

Series: Prepared for Purpose

Category: Sunday Morning

The table in the Jewish culture was a significant place. Luke 14 tells of one conversation around the table. Jesus points out that the place of honor was not to be desired.

Luke 14:12-14 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. But when you give a reception invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 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.”

As humans we tend to bring people in and keep others out according to our standards - welcome or not welcome at my table. When Jesus offers a seat at His table, we have no say about who comes. Jesus died on the cross; He paid for our sins; He offered a seat at the table to anyone who will call upon the name of Jesus. Isaiah 55:2 We don't need to get our lives right before we come to Jesus' table of reconciliation. The table of reconciliation brings freedom from what keeps them away.

The Jewish table was a place where the father would speak to who was at the table. For the Romans, it was a place of who was in and who was out. Galatians 2:11-14 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he had clearly done wrong. Until certain people came from James, he had been eating with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself because he was afraid of those who were pro-circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also joined with him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray with them by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not behaving consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “If you, although you are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you try to force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Those words are strong - let that question our own invitations to the table. Paul is speaking to the false view of justification that led to broken table fellowship. Paul instructs them on how justification works - not by diet, or works, or by what we can do. It comes from who we know. To eat with someone is to share a common connection. Jesus addressed the issue and outsiders became insiders around Jesus' table. Jesus ate with tax collectors (outcasts) who while working for Romans became enemies of God. Jesus eating with enemies was an amazing expression of the gospel of grace.

Mark 2:14-17 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating with tax collectors and sinners?” And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Luke 14:13-14 But whenever you give a banquet, invite people who are poor, who have disabilities, who are limping, and people who are blind; 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.

It is important to invite the beggars, disabled, and blind as they weren't able to do anything about their condition and weren't able to make sacrifices. Jesus stood up to include those marginalized (those we consider insignificant - those that we look down on). Israel had clear guidelines on food and eating. Jesus refused to live by these ways or to be like the world. To dine with sinners implied a certain friendship and intimacy that was improper for a Jew. Jesus was not good at fitting into religion.

Luke 7:36-39 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to eat with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and she wiped them with the hair of her head, and began kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner!” Jesus welcomed her to the table while the Pharisees saw her sin. Luke 19:1-10 The religious leaders judged Jesus for His action of going to Zaccheus', the tax collector's, house. Yet... “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

  • Jesus' eating habits fell short of the expected standards.
  • Jesus' mercy to heal ran against laws of the Sabbath.
  • Jesus' relationships ran counter to the laws of purification.
  • Jesus interacted with those not right.
  • Jesus healed anyone.
  • Jesus desired to see hearts reconciled to Him.
  • Jesus invited Judas to His table knowing that Judas would betray Him.

The Luke story is about Jesus' compassion for and His mission to society's outcast and rejected. The story of the Gospel is found in every story and encounter of how Jesus related to the world around Him as He broke tradition and redeemed true justification. Jesus intentionally touched the unclean, the blind, the lame, the sick, prostitutes, and asked tax collectors and sinners to sit at the table with Him. Touching unclean does not make us unclean when we touch with the intention of a touch from Jesus Christ. Jesus' touch made the unclean to be clean - He redeemed them. 

John in Revelation describes a banquet with an invitation for all who would call on the name of the Lord - they'll find a seat at the table. For all... the lost, the helpless, the sinner... who would allow the blood of Jesus to reconcile them to God. The great commission is to invite people to the table - to His table - to the table of reconciliation. Everyone is invited - there is a seat at the table.

It's what we've been invited to do... Luke 14:16-24 But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, because everything is ready now.’ And yet they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I purchased a field and I need to go out to look at it; please consider me excused.’ And another one said, ‘I bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ And another one said, ‘I took a woman as my wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ 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 those who are poor, those with disabilities, those who are blind, and those who are limping.’ And later the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and the hedges and press upon them to come in, so that my house will be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my dinner.’” The Master wants His table to be filled - we are commissioned to fill the table. We've all had a table of reconciliation. The purpose that God has placed in each of our lives (the calling, the setting apart, the gifts, the community, His love to us) has been given that we might go out and bring others like us to a table of reconciliation with Him.

Matthew 28:19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. That is what we are called to do - to bring any and all to the table. It begins with each one of us. It starts with repentance for not opening our heart to everyone. Then bring others to the open table for reconciliation. 

Do we too often look to our own lives and brag about what God has done? Or do we ask God how He wants us to use this to bring others in?

How do you stand at inviting anyone to your table?

Is there a person in your life that needs reconciliation?