Read: Luke 14:7-14 “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed.”
Bible in a Year:
Exodus 12-13; Matthew 16
Qumran was a first-century Jewish community that had isolated itself from outside influences to prepare for the arrival of the Messiah. They took great care in devotional life, ceremonial washings, and strict adherence to rules of conduct. Surviving documents show that they would not allow the lame, the blind, or the crippled into their communities. This was based on their conviction that anyone with a physical “blemish” was ceremonially unclean. During their table fellowship, disabled people were never on their guest lists.
Ironically, at that same time the Messiah of Israel was at work in the cities and villages of Judea and Galilee. Jesus proclaimed His Father’s kingdom, brought teaching and comfort, and worked mighty miracles. Strikingly, He proclaimed: “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed” (Luke 14:13-14).
The contrast between Jesus’ words and the guest list of the Qumran “spiritual elite” is instructive to us. Often we like to fellowship with people who look, think, and act like us. But our Lord exhorts us to be like Him and open our doors to everyone.
The gospel must be shared with all, Not just with those like you and me; For God embraces everyone Who turns to Him to set them free. —Sper
The inclusive gospel cannot be shared by an exclusive people.
The healing of the paralyzed man is loaded with lessons for us. He lies motionless on his pallet, unable to move. His incredible and loyal friends have dedicated themselves to getting him into Jesus’ presence. But the house is full; its beyond standing room only, they can’t get close. They are desperate. Jesus is so near, they can hear Him teach, and yet so far away.
One of them has a wild idea. They will lower him down into the room from the roof! Energized by this thought they put the plan into action. I can just see them, working feverishly. When the hole is big enough, they carefully lower the paralyzed man down slowly. We read that, “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 5:20).
God can see faith. It is invisible to us, and takes a special work of grace for us to do so. It is not an easy thing to see faith. If you go downtown to watch a movie in 3-D the attendant will issue you special glasses. With them everything is enhanced.
The Lord sees faith, and responds in kind. His powers of perception and discernment are advanced far beyond our puny human efforts. But God is pleased when we show our faith by our works. They fascinate Him and He delights when His children prove a living faith by actions. Our faith can only be seen by what we do.
The faith of the paralyzed man, and the faith of his friends makes them fluorescent in a black & white world. It jumps out to Jesus, and it is hard to see anything else. Faith stands out, and it cannot be hid.
There is so much here in Luke 5, so many lessons and so much wisdom. Much of it lies at the surface, and can be picked up like gold nuggets. I think that I could preach six months on this chapter alone. It is that good.
The hymn A Mighty FortressIs Our God gloriously celebrates God’s power. It was penned by the great 16th-century reformer Martin Luther, who believed God’s power could help believers overcome great difficulties — even depression. Given his pastoral heart, he sought to bring spiritual counsel to struggling souls. His compassion for those souls shines in numerous places, including his sermons, lectures, Bible commentaries and ‘table talks’. In addition, he devoted many letters to counseling troubled folk.
Luther’s writings reveal his knowledge of various emotional difficulties. For example, in August 1536 he interceded for a woman named Mrs. Kreuzbinder, whom he deemed insane. He described her as being “accustomed to rage” and sometimes angrily chasing her neighbor with a spear.
In addition, Luther’s wife, Kate, struggled with pervasive and persistent worry indicative of generalized anxiety disorder. Prince Joachim of Anhalt, to whom Luther often wrote, exhibited signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and he believed he had betrayed and crucified Christ. Conrad Cordatus, a pastor and frequent guest at Luther’s table, exhibited signs of hypochondriasis, a disorder involving preoccupation with fears of having a serious disease.
Besides observing mental difficulties in others, Luther had a compelling reason to affirm their reality. Luther himself endured many instances of depression. He described the experience in varied terms: melancholy, heaviness, depression, dejection of spirit; downcast, sad, downhearted. He suffered in this area for much of his life and often revealed these struggles in his works. Evidently he did not think it a shameful problem to be hidden.
Satan as the “accuser of the brethren,” causes Christians to dwell on past sins. Such thoughts induce melancholy and despair. Concerning a friend’s depressive thoughts, Luther wrote, “Know that the devil is tormenting you with them, and that they are not your thoughts but the cursed devil’s, who cannot bear to see us have joyful thoughts.”Luther recognized a spiritual truth about depression. One can expect Satan’s persistence until faith is destroyed, but in the midst of depression God is with us. He never leaves us alone. In the midst of trouble He draws near to us.
Sometimes the invisible God draws near through visible people, and they become the bearers of God’s comforting and strengthening words to troubled souls. What’s more, God seeks to assure us of His love and esteem. And through His Word, He counters Satan’s lies with His truth.
Some Martin Luther Quotes
“All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired.”
“Faith is a living and unshakable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake.”
“Christ took our sins and the sins of the whole world as well as the Father’s wrath on his shoulders, and he has drowned them both in himself so that we are thereby reconciled to God and become completely righteous.”
“A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” by Luther
1. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.
2. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he; Lord Sabaoth, his name, from age to age the same, and he must win the battle.
3. And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.
If you have to go to war, you may find yourselves facing an enemy army that is bigger than yours and that has horses and chariots. But don’t be afraid! The LORD your God rescued you from Egypt, and he will help you fight.
Provision is being made for this inevitability. As a promise it’s kind like one of those, “Break Glass in Case of Emergency” for the nation of Israel. It will happen, so this is what you need to do. There can be no Promised Land without combat. If we move with God there will be conflict for all who advance.
Provision is also being made for fighting superior numbers. Not only will you be outnumbered but you will be outgunned. Essentially, they were facing chariots, the modern tank of ancient battles. But, even in the light of this, “don’t be afraid!” This fear will immobilize you. Fear is also highly contagious, and spreads through ranks of men.
It is hard to see an ancient battle through the eyes of a warrior. It must have been a frightening experience to pass through. The mud, sweat, the noise and the thirst are all working on you, and additionally it’s one of those “kill or be killed” scenarios. If you don’t kill the man fighting you, he will kill you. And he will.
In our verse we read of an another critical point. “The Lord rescued you…” This is a reminder what has happened in Israel’s past. Israel, led by Moses, crossed miraculously the Red Sea. They were also chased by chariots, and had few weapons and no trained army. Present day Israel was called to remember that deliverance, and to trust God to do it again.
“The Lord rescued…and the Lord will help you fight”. We need to remember the past, and then look to the future. It is also quite helpful to seeing God as presently involved in our lives. As Christians, our experiences mirror the covenant people of Israel. We are to draw on these lessons and drive back our enemies. To confidently remember all the times He met us, and to stand and meet the foe.
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the LORD.”