7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them. 8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Lk. 14:7-11
It could hardly be supposed that Jesus here was talking about a mere wedding, or that He was setting out the seating protocol at weddings for people to follow; so what is this all about?
Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of God! Notice that Jesus’s words here are a parable (v.7). Which means it is a teaching; a teaching for the Church. And Jesus’s message here was simple: when you come into the Kingdom of God, take the back-est seat possible. Desire to be the lowest person in God’s Kingdom.
Who do you think Jesus is referring to as “he that bade thee and him”? Who is the “he” here?
That “he” is God. Far from talking about a wedding in the natural, the Lord was talking about the totality of the Christian life. He was referring to the attitude that a Christian believer needs to have in his relationship with God; the attitude that the Church needs to carry in their hearts as children of God. It is this attitude that will cause God to raise us up.
Notice verses 8 and 9.
“8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
In ministry especially, men are tempted to take “the highest room”. We want to be recognized! But the only person who counts is the “more honourable man”. And, pray, who is the “more honourable man” Jesus is talking of here?
We may not know this man. John the Baptist told the Jews,
“26… there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.”
The Jews thought John was the greatest.
This is a wake-up call to preachers. Leave off all those high-sounding titles and desire to become common servants of Christ. Above all, do not despise others, for you never know who is coming after you.
Thank God, John knew.
The “more honourable man” is the man whom God alone acknowledges. It is not the man who thinks of himself as honorable, or he who advertises himself. Ought that not make us want to become smaller still in our own estimation of ourselves?
Desiring to be a nothing in the Kingdom of God is an attitude of heart. All our proclamations to the contrary, this is one of the hardest things for us to do as children of God. And the reason for this is because the flesh is involved. The heart of man is naturally puffed up.
The flesh works in tandem with the devil, who tried to take the position of God. It is written of the devil in Isaiah 14: 12-15:
“12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
But God answered Lucifer and said,
“Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”
Thank God for He controls everything. He looks upon the lowly heart, and uplifts them. He causes the poor (in spirit) to become rich.
The Psalmist, David, had a lot to write concerning the poor. In Psalm 69:29, David wrote:
“But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.”
David was not talking of material lack; the sorrow he refers to here is the sorrow of a man who seeks after the righteousness of God. Here he echoes the attitude of a broken man. That man, the Bible says, God will set “up on high”.
In Psalm 113:7-8 he writes also,
“7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill, 8 That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.”
That scripture is talking about the “poor” and “needy” in spirit. God will always consider the humble in heart, and He will do something about it. But God will never consider the man who carries pride of any form in his heart.
During the charismatic era, I never really knew what this Psalm meant. Since I was poor materially, I thought it was referring to my natural state. But when we become children of God, God has better things for us. He desires to give the eternal things, which are spiritual, not the the material things, which are temporal. It is true He will also bless us with the material things if He so desires. But that is not where His heart is.
But the central point is that God gives the good things of the Spirit to the humble in heart.
Humility cannot be found in our hearts if we have not crucified the flesh. That is why the entirety of our Christian life revolves around the revelation of the cross in our hearts. The work of the cross is to crucify our flesh, for it is the flesh that desires to
“in the highest room”
But Paul writes in Galatians 5:24:
“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
So what happens when God raises us “out of the dust” and lifts us “out of the dunghill” in the Spirit? Do we become rich materially, or wise and strong in the flesh?
As we already noted, the answer is no. On the contrary, it simply means that God enriches us with His grace. We become carriers of the grace of God. We become men and women who carry in us the crucified and resurrected life of Christ. It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul wrote,
“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”