Serving Those Who Cannot Repay

Jesus calls us all to live a life of humble service.

George Wright
Oct 6, 2019    34m
In this sermon Pastor George Wright teaches from Luke chapter 14, The Parable of the Great Banquet, to illustrate that Jesus calls us all to live a life of humble service. He explains that it is the desire of Jesus's heart that we will do something that we don't have to do for someone who cannot repay us. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Let me encourage you now to grab your Bible, and we're going to be in Luke's Gospel chapter 14 this morning. So if you don't have a Bible with you, we want you to know we've got Bibles spread out all over the room, you can grab one of those and follow along with us. You can maybe open up the Bible on your Bible app if you have that on your phone. Turn to Luke 14, and let's look at what the word of God says, as we conclude our series this morning that we have titled The Blessed Life. Over the last few weeks, we've been looking at what the Bible specifically says about a life that is blessed by God. And what we see this morning in Luke's Gospel, as we turn to a story that Jesus in fact tells, a parable of Jesus. Is this an incredible thought, God blesses the life of one who serves those who cannot repay the one who is served. God blesses the life of one who serves others who cannot repay them. It is an amazing thing to consider, and we'll see what the word of God says about this in Luke chapter 14 beginning in verse 12.

George Wright: 01:11 I'd like to invite you to stand with me as I read from the word of God, so that we all can be reminded as we turn our attention to God's word. The word of God is the foundation for the people of God. It is the authority over the lives of the followers of Jesus. And the word of God shows us what God says is right and good and true. So if you're here this morning, maybe new to church, maybe you have questions about the Bible, maybe you're wondering, how do I know how to make decisions that are right and good and true? The word of God shows us what God says.

George Wright: 01:52 Let's look at what Luke 14 says in verse 12, this is Jesus speaking, "He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Blessed is the life who serves and invites one who cannot repay. The words of Jesus are challenging. The words of Jesus are convicting. The words of Jesus are what we need to hear. So let's ask God to use this time to speak into our lives.

George Wright: 02:52 Would you pray with me, Father, as we turn our attention to your word this morning, on this great weekend where we have celebrated the work of your church, your people, demonstrating your love in such tangible ways. We are grateful, grateful for all that has happened this week, and grateful for the lives that have been impacted and touched by the faithful service of your people. And as we now stand before you turning our attention to your word, it is my prayer that you would speak into our lives, and that the word of God would in fact read us. That you would help us, through your Spirit, see what we need to see and hear what we need to hear. Lord, use this time for your glory. This is my prayer. It is in Jesus name that we asked this prayer. Amen. Amen. You may be seated. Thank you for standing.

George Wright: 03:56 In Luke chapter 14 we see Jesus lay out a challenge to his followers, that will invite his followers to live as a reflection of his heart. The context here is Jesus is gathering with a group of people, some of his followers are there. And he uses this opportunity at this dinner banquet or at this celebration to say, I want to teach you how you can live as a reflection of my heart. So what is the challenge that Jesus lays out here for his followers? We just read it, verses 12 through 14. The challenge of Jesus is this, do something that you don't have to do for someone who cannot repay you. Do something that you don't have to do for someone who cannot pay you back. Do something for someone who cannot repay, and you will be blessed. So what is this revealing about the heart of Jesus? And what is this revealing about the heart that the followers of Jesus should have as we seek to be a reflection of him? To understand that, let's go back a verse. Luke 14 verse 11, look at what Jesus says, "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." And then Jesus says to the man who invited him to the banquet, "Don't just invite the people that can pay you back when you throw a party, invite those who cannot repay." Do something that you don't have to do for someone who cannot repay. What is this all about?

George Wright: 05:56 Well, Jesus is laying out any essential quality for someone who follows after him. I've said this before, and I'm sure I'll say this again, but according to the word of God, the self righteous Christian is an oxymoron. According to the word of God, the arrogant Christian is not a reflection of Christ at all. In fact, you can't find anywhere in the scripture an example of one who is following Jesus in self righteousness and arrogance. What you see is an example of those who follow Jesus in humility. Humility is one of the defining characteristics of Jesus himself. In fact, in Philippians chapter 2 when the apostle Paul is describing the characteristics of Jesus, and imploring the followers of Jesus to live as a reflection of Christ. He makes this statement about Jesus, chapter 2 verse 8 of Philippians, "Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross." Jesus is described as being gentle, and lowly in heart, humility is the heart of Jesus. And to follow Jesus, we must follow in humility. In fact, I believe according to the scripture, you could go so far as to say the only way that you can truly follow Jesus is to follow in humility. Because you see the call to follow Jesus, is a call to take up our cross and follow, it's a call of self-denial, it's a call to surrender my way for his way, it's a call to acknowledge my need for the savior. And the arrogant and the self righteous do not live this way. They may be close to Jesus in proximity, they may know about Jesus, but they do not surrender to Jesus.

George Wright: 08:23 Listen to this quote from Ray Ortlund one of his great commentaries, he says, "Do you let the Bible overrule your thinking? If you are looking in the Bible for excuses to do what you want anyway, you have in fact rejected God. But if you trust the Lord, you will let the Bible challenge your most cherished thoughts and feelings. If you will trust him wholeheartedly, you will let him teach you." That's humility, to acknowledge that my way is not the best way, God's way is the best way. To acknowledge, even with all that I've done, or all that I know, or all that I've experienced, or all that I think I am, I still have needs that I can never fully satisfy on my own. It's to acknowledge that God has done for me, something that I could never do for myself. It is a heart of humility that is required to follow Jesus.

George Wright: 09:33 And in Luke 14 Jesus is giving us this very practical demonstration of humility. Do something that you don't have to do for someone who cannot repay you. You see, Jesus is showing that the heart behind what we do is what matters most to him. Isn't it true, the actions of our life, and the heart that leads to the actions of our life, can actually be very far apart? I mean, isn't it true that an action can look sacrificial, but the heart that motivates the action can actually be completely self-serving. Isn't it true that an action can look compassionate and kind, isn't it true that an act can look loving, but the heart that motivates the action can be completely self-righteous? And Jesus is saying, yes, I care about the actions of your life. Yes, I want my followers to be people who serve others. But please don't miss this, the heart behind why you do what you do is what matters most. I was thinking about this this week, as I was thinking about this area that so many businesses have called customer service, y'all know customer service, right? It's an organization and an entity that was created to do exactly what it says, serve the customer. But how many times have you had the experience, I can tell you I've had many experiences like this, where you get on the phone with someone that is at a helpline or a help desk and they have no desire to help. How many times have you gone to a customer service desk, or a customer service office, and the person sitting on the other side of the desk has no desire whatsoever to serve the customer? Am I the only one here? Man, I might need some therapy. I thought this was common, right? I mean I just want to scream out, don't you see, the very sign above your desk says customer service. How is this hard to understand? Because there is a huge difference between the action and the heart. And when you have a good customer service experience, it's something you want to talk about. It's such an anomaly that somebody in a service industry, that in their very job is to serve a customer, does that with joy and with a smile and with delight. That is a gift. It's as if Jesus is saying here, listen, yes, your service matters, but if your heart is very far from the action of service in your life, then you might as well just not serve at all, because the heart matters. You see, Jesus is saying, service is to be a reflection of what we have freely and graciously received. It's not an expression of what we're trying to achieve, it is a reflection of what we have freely received. The gospel declares to you and to me, if you are in Christ, you have already received the greatest gift that you could possibly receive, so go and live like it. Go and live out the overflow of what you have freely received, and lets your life point to the heart of Jesus.

George Wright: 13:39 So after saying this very challenging statement about serving those who cannot repay, Jesus begins to tell a parable. If you're new to Bible study, a parable is a practical and understandable story that communicates a deeper theological truth. It's taking that the theological truth of God, and presenting it in a way that it is understandable in common language. Jesus was the master at this. The parables of Jesus are absolutely incredible. He is a genius storyteller. And in this parable that we see in Luke 14, it points to the heart, and Jesus actually gives us a warning through this parable about the heart. I want to lay this out in front before we read the parable. Here's the warning of Luke 14 in this parable of Jesus, it is possible to be surrounded by the things of God, and the people of God, and still miss God. Don't miss this, this is incredibly important. As we gather together in a church for a service, if you are joining us online for this service, don't miss this. This is a warning Jesus lays out, it is possible to be surrounded by the things of God, and the people of God, and still miss God.

George Wright: 15:09 So listen to what this parable reveals. I'm going to read it in its entirety, because it is a short story, again, to communicate a deeper theological truth in an understandable way. So let's see what Jesus reveals. Luke 14 verse 15, 'When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But Jesus said to him, here is the parable, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." Which can I just say that's the most legitimate excuse right there. My wife says, I can't. So take that for what it's worth. "So the servant came and reported these things to the master, and it says the master of the house became angry, and said to his servant, go out quickly to the streets in the lanes of the city and bring in the poor and the crippled and the blind and the lame. And the servant said, sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room. And the master said to the servant, then go out into the highways and the hedges and compel people to come in that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet."

George Wright: 17:13 So what is his story all about? Jesus is wanting us to understand a deeper theological truth here about the heart, and he talks about two groups of people who are invited to this great banquet, this beautiful celebration. The first invitation goes out well in advance. This is the save the date crowd. Okay? They get the invitation, they stick it on their refrigerator. They're like, okay, the banquet's coming down the road, we've got a lot going on. If we can get to it when the time comes, we will attend. These are the people that were expecting the invite. They are familiar with the host of this party. They are thankful to be invited to the party, but in reality they have a lot of things going on in their life that's keeping them incredibly busy. And so when the banquet does finally come around, they just have too much going on to stop and accept the invitation. They've all got their reasons why they can't attend, and they get invited to important gatherings all the time, and so this is just another one that's come and they're not going to be able to make this one. Who is this representing? Well, in this story, this first group that receives the invitation in advance to the banquet, is actually representing the religious crowd. Specifically in this context, the religious Jews. Religion for them at this time that Jesus is telling the story is important, in fact, it's very important. It is a significant part of their life, but please don't miss this, it is just a part of their life in a list of many other important things in a busy and hectic schedule, religion is checking the box. These are the people that check the box by attending church when they can. They come as often as they can, when there's not other things going on, they check that box. These are the people that when they've got some money in their pocket and the offering comes around, they put money in the plate so they can check the box. These are people when they hear about a good study or or a good event or something that's happening, if it appeals to them, if it's something they're looking for, they'll attend and they'll check the box. But remember, Jesus is issuing a warning about the heart in this parable. This parable is showing us you can be surrounded by the things of God, and familiar with the things of God, and in close proximity to the people of God, and still miss God all together. If your faith is about checking a religious box on a long list of things to do in your busy and hectic life, you are in danger of missing the banquet. And I know that's not easy to hear, but this story is reminding us to truly get the gospel requires one thing, to truly get the gospel requires need. An understanding that we need a savior, and we cannot save ourselves. Salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone, it does not come through church attendance, through religious activity, or through checking a few boxes. It comes from Christ alone. And Jesus is telling this parable that there are many who have been invited to the great celebration of Christ, who will actually miss the banquet all together, because they do not acknowledge their need for the savior. Because you see there is a huge difference between being invited, and accepting the invitation.

George Wright: 21:37 But there's a second group that gets invited to this banquet, seemingly they're invited last minute to the banquet. This is a group of people that appear totally unworthy to even receive an invitation to the banquet at all. In Jesus' day, this group represents the Gentiles., those who were not religious Jews, they were the outsiders. They were not welcome at the religious celebrations. These are the people that would be considered disconnected, broken, far from God, and certainly outside of the religious elite. These are people that would be surprised to receive an invitation at all, and at receiving that invitation would be totally overwhelmed with gratitude that they had been invited. You see, Jesus is saying this group represents people who have built their faith not on their religious activity, or their religious deeds, but on the fact that they know they are totally unworthy and Christ alone has made them worthy. This is the group of people that has built their faith on the reality that they know they are broken, and in need of a savior, and Christ alone has saved them, and rescued them, and restored them through his amazing grace. Their faith is not about what they're doing to prove their worth or to prove their importance, but instead their faith is about what Christ has already done to prove how much he loves them. Their faith is not about checking a box at all. And Jesus says, these are the ones who will truly celebrate, they have accepted the invitation.

George Wright: 23:39 So the question then comes for all of us today, which group are you in? Are you part of that first group of religious that has been invited perhaps time and time again, but it's never accepted the invitation? Are you part of that group that is busy and hectic and has a lot going on, and is trying to check a box, but has never surrendered your life to Christ? Are you an invited guest who is close to the things of God, and perhaps close to the people of God, but does not have a relationship with God through Jesus? Or are you like that second group of invited guests who receive and accept the invitation? Who recognizes that even though they don't deserve to be invited at all, God in his love and his grace towards them has extended the greatest invitation that they could ever receive. They have accepted the invitation, they have built their life securely on what Christ has done. And in great joy, and in great humility, they know that their eternity is secure and their place at the table has been sealed with the blood of the lamb. Which group are you in?

George Wright: 25:11 As we close this message this morning, I just want to look back at an invitation that is given to both groups. It's an invitation I believe it's given to both groups today. First, Luke chapter 14 verse 17 as it relates to those who are religious, to the invited guests that have never accepted the invitation, please hear this. It says in verse 17, "At the time for the banquets, the master sent his servant saying to those who have been invited, come for everything is now ready." If you are here this morning as one who has been in the midst of religion, but has never trusted your life to Jesus in a personal way, please don't miss this, the invitation is still on the table, the banquet has been made ready, the work has been finished. Jesus has done for you what you will never be able to do for yourself in all of your attempts to check boxes. The work is finished, it's not too late, Jesus is inviting you to come. Don't miss what is right in front of you. Don't settle for religion just being part of your life, trust your life to Jesus and experience the gift of salvation here and now, and the promise of eternal life to come. That invitation is offered to you. But to those who perhaps are a part of that second group who have received the invitation, accepted the invitation, trusted in the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ. Believe that it is through the blood of Christ, at the cross, that you have been saved. There is an invitation to you as well, verse 23 of Luke 14 this is the invitation to the church of Jesus Christ, it says, "The master said to his servant, go, go, go out into the highways, go out into the hedges, compel people to come in, that my house may be filled."

George Wright: 27:53 Church, this is the calling of Jesus for every single one of his followers. This is the call of Jesus that we talk about all the time here at Shandon, to live sent, to go out into our community as we've done this weekend. That's why we go, that's why we serve, to go out into our neighborhoods, into our workplace, into our schools, to demonstrate and communicate the good news of what God has done for us. This is why we go, God has sent us, and God has saved us. We have been invited to take the greatest news, of the greatest invitation, that has ever been offered to the world, and to share it with those who have yet to believe. The good news of the gospel says that even if you feel unworthy, it is Christ who calls you worthy if you trust in him. And even if you feel like you are an outsider, it is Jesus Christ who is inviting you in.

George Wright: 29:12 So if you are here today, and you see yourself in that first group, the question for you is, will you accept the invitation? It's an invitation you may be very familiar with. It's an invitation you may have heard many times before. It's an invitation that you could be around your entire life and totally miss. It's an invitation that is being offered to you today. Come, the banquet's ready, the table is set, you're invited. Will you accept? And if you have received that beautiful invitation, and trusted your life to Jesus Christ, if you have accepted what God has done for you that you could never do for yourself, the invitation for you today is will you go and invite others to enjoy this beautiful party? Will you go and tell others that there is a seat at the table for them? You are invited to join the banquet and the celebration. It has been made available to each and every one through Jesus Christ our Lord.

George Wright: 30:42 Let me pray for us as we close this message, and this series this morning. We will sing a song of response together, and then we've got a very special time of commissioning as some of our own or being sent out on mission here this week. Let me pray for us. Father God, it is a gift every time we turn our attention to your word and see the invitation that you have laid before us. So Lord, I pray specifically now for those in this room, those who are joining us online, who have been a part of a church or religious activity at some level in their life. But for them it's just been about checking a box, it's never been about a personal relationship, it's never been about the life changing amazing grace offered through the blood of Jesus Christ at the cross and the new life that comes through the power of his resurrection. And today, Lord God, I know there are some, there are some, who are feeling the weight of that invitation in a way that they never have before. And you're inviting them to come, to come sit at the table, experience the banquet, experience the celebration that is new life in Christ. I pray today that they would trust in you, that they would say, Jesus, no more just checking a box, I'm ready to follow you with my life. No more just viewing a relationship with God is a thing on my to do list, no, I'm ready for my life to follow Jesus in a real and personal way. Father, we thank you for your love, we thank you for your grace, and we thank you for inviting people to experience the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Lord, for the church, for those who are following you, Oh, how I pray that this weekend of Love Cola that we celebrate as we go out and serve, would not just be a one time a year kind of thing. But this would be a reminder that you have sent us out, sent us out to love this city sent us out to love our neighbors, sent us out to communicate the greatest news that the world could ever hear. Lord, use us for your glory to invite others to come to the great banquet. It is offered to everyone who has life in Christ. Oh, we thank you for the celebration that you invite us to be a part of, and I pray, Lord God, that you would use us to bring others to the great party. How we love you, how we need you, and how we thank you for who you are and for what you are doing. It is in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206