Parable of the Wedding Feast (Upside Down Kingdom series #4)
Jason White



What is the right way to approach honor, respect, status, and significance in our lives? In this parable, Jesus shows us that the Kingdom approach to exaltation comes through humility.








Read Sermon Transcript Here
*This transcript was auto-generated by a transcription service and may differ from the originally spoken content*Today, we're going to try to answer the question what is the right way to approach honor, respect, status, and significance in our lives. I think it's fair to say that these are all things that we want for our lives. We desire to be respected by other people, we longed to be honored by them, we would love to have a certain status that we are able to achieve in our lives. We longed to have significance meaning purpose in our lives. And sometimes we'll go to great lengths to feel like we're acquiring those things. As a matter of fact, a few years ago, there was a story that came out of someone who longed for these things so much that in her life, she went to absolutely crazy insane links to get them her name was Anna Sorkin, but she's she went by the name and Adele V. You are probably familiar with that name. It was very out there in the news world, it was so much of a story and her life became so crazy at one point in time that Netflix even did a whole series over her that some of you have probably seen, but Anna lived in New York City, she wanted so desperately to be respected by others and to have honor that she basically pretended to be someone that she was not, she convinced everyone that she was a wealthy heiress. And she worked her way in and managed to, to befriend these people who were kind of in the upper echelons of the New York social scene or the New York art scene. And as she began to make these connections, she was able to really just take advantage of those people, deceive them, and defraud them out of a lot of money. She had this dream of building this big private member's club and this Arts Foundation, where, when she achieved that and had it, she would have so much respect, and so much honor, everybody would know who it is that she was, and it would give her that significance that she was deeply craving in her life. And she was doing almost anything, and using almost everyone to be able to get those things in her life. She caused a lot of damage along the way, eventually, she was caught, she was arrested, she went to jail, she spent a few years in jail, I did recently noticed that she has been released from jail. She's now technically on house arrest. But I noticed that she's still trying to get her name out there back out there to put herself in front of the world because she is so desperate for this honor and respect and status in significant that she deeply craves in our lives. And that's just one example of how far some people will go to get these things that we're talking about today. Now, while you and I may not go to quite those links, or at least I hope, we're not going to quite those links to get them. We've probably all from time to time, tried to organize our lives around people in a way that they would bring us something that we felt like we were missing in our lives, we see someone with wealth and money, and we try to work our way in and around their social circles and to be seen with them and around them because we feel like they can give us what it is that we desire in the area of wealth or this particular person is recognized and unknown by others. And we want to be respected. And we want to be in the same social circles. And so we try to work our way in just like Anna did, but maybe not quite to those extremes in our lives. I've certainly done it in my past, maybe you've done the same kind of things. Maybe you're even doing those things right now. We all longed to have respect. We all want a certain status, we would love to be recognized and be significant. Well, even though we deal with these things in our world, and we see it all the time when we see people going to crazy lengths to get them. It really wasn't any different in Jesus's day, people would go to crazy links, as we're gonna see, even in this parable that Jesus tells in just a moment to get those same kinds of things. And Jesus saw it happening one day, right before his eyes. And he took advantage of that moment to tell this particular parable to teach about what really matters in God's kingdom and how to view these things that we see going on in our world. When we get to Luke chapter 14. He kind of sets the context in which Jesus tells the parable in the very first verse, he says one Sabbath when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee so this is the context this is the setting in which Jesus is going to tell this parable, it's basically a dinner party, Jesus is attending a dinner party. And Luke goes on. First before he gets to the parable that Jesus tells and tells us how Jesus healed the guy it was on the Sabbath, the Pharisees tried to make a big deal about it. And he used that as a teaching moment to just give them an important lesson of compassion for people over the rules and regulations that they had deemed so important. But he shares those things. And then as Luke turns the attention back to the dinner, he picks it up in verse seven, it says, When Jesus noticed how the guest picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable. So the parable, again, that we're about to dive into is at a dinner party. And the reason that he's telling this is because of how he saw people trying to pick certain places to sit at the table. There are certain places of honor at a table in the ancient world in this time that Jesus lived and was in His earthly ministry, this whole idea of picking places of honor at a dinner table was a ginormous thing. This was a culture where it was all about jockeying for position, it was all about jockeying for prestige and honor and the way that people saw you in that particular world. And where a person said at a meal in relation to the host was a public announcement to everyone else around of your recognition, Your Honor, the status the respect that you deserved, based on where you sat, basically, what it would have probably been like what was most common at a dinner like this was kind of a U shaped table, you'd have a table here and one on the side and one on the side that just kind of made a shape of you, it was common for the host of the dinner party to sit at the middle of the you in the bottom part of it, and the person that was on the left would have the most honored seat at the dinner table, the person on his right would have the next most honored position at the dinner table. And then it would go out from there. And so apparently, people were elbowing each other or trying to tuck themselves into one of those particular seats, because you knew that if you could get to have one of those seats at the dinner table, it would be a public advertisement to all of the rest of those who were there of how important you were, how respected you should be the prestige and honor that you carried. So Jesus saw all of that going on. And this is why he tells this parable that begins in verse eight. He says when someone invites you to a wedding feast did not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished, then you may have been invited, 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. 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. For all who are all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, Jesus says, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. This parable of the wedding feast that Jesus is telling here is basically just a picture of the gospel and entrance into the kingdom of God. Jesus ain't you can certainly choose to live your life where you're constantly trying to exalt yourself in this world, you can try to make much of who you are, and convince others that you're important. You try to gain the recognition and the honor and the status to make sure that you're known in this world. And you may try to derive meaning and purpose and significance from those things. But the gospel shows us that if this is the way that you are going to prioritize your life, then you you certainly might end up being exalted in this world, you might find a way to have a exalted status in this world. But make no mistake about it. You will be humbled when it comes to entrance in the next world, because that's not how entrance into the kingdom works. You're not going to show up one day at the pearly gates of heaven and knock on them and say, Hey, God, I should be let in there because how big of a deal I was down there, right? No one's going to be able to say that and the reason If that is true, is because however much of a big deal you become in this world, you will never amount to how big of a deal God is. You'll never measure up to his standard. And that's the thing, when it comes to this whole idea of honor and recognition and respect and status, because what we're doing when we're looking for it in this world, is we're using other people to justify that we are better than they are. We're trying to earn a certain place where in our minds, we're over and above those particular people, but when it comes to the gospel, we realize that other people aren't really our standard that God is. And if he is a holy and a perfect God, then no matter how big of a deal you become, you're never going to be holy, you're never going to be perfect. And the only response when you come before him is to humble yourself before Him and declare, oh, my gosh, you are God, and I am not.That's the only proper response when we come into His presence is to declare that I am a sinner, and I do not deserve to be in your presence or in your kingdom. And so for those who will exalt themselves in this particular world, you may get that exaltation. But Jesus says, you will be humbled. But if you'll Humble yourself, then you will be exalted when we come before him, and we do humble ourselves before Him, and we admit our need for a Savior and we receive Him by faith, and God does exalt us. Now, a lot of us think, yeah, okay, one day, right. I know one day, I'll get to be exalted whenever I get to heaven. But that's not the picture the gospel paints. The gospel gives us a picture that the moment that we humble ourselves before God, and we receive Him by faith, we're exalted right there, even in that moment, because not only are our sins forgiven, but he takes us and He makes us into a whole new creation. And he seats us spiritually already in a place of honor in his kingdom right there in that moment. Colossians chapter three, we've looked at this before, but Paul is writing to a group of people, the church, those who had humbled themselves before God already admitted their need for a Savior, put their faith and trust in Him to rescue him. And he tells them since then, you have already been raised with Christ, to set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things for you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God talk about being exalted. Right, and he's talking about them right there. In that moment, he said, since then, you've already been raised to a place of exultation since you've already been exalted. He's saying your life is now hidden with Christ in God. And he mentioned that Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, you are in a place of honor. You have been exalted right there in that moment. And so all of this honor, and all of this recognition and all of the status that we feel like we're craving, and we need in our lives, God just gives it to us in Christ. And that's why he even says, to set your hearts and your minds on the things above where those things are true. Because that's where your honor, that's where your status, that's where your recognition is, is who you are in Christ and where you're seated at in him. And Paul knows that if we take our eyes off of what's true about us there, and we look out here in the world, then Satan is going to use that opportunity to uplift and highlight the values of this world, which is you deserve honor, you deserve recognition. You deserve status in this world, and go chase after those things, because that's what you're missing in your life. And that's what you need. And then we're deceived. And we make our lives here all about using and abusing other people to get what Satan has convinced us that we're lacking in our lives. When Jesus is saying, I've already given all of that to you. Just keep your mind on things above where that is true about you. And that will set you free from the bondage of having to try to find those things here in this world. When that happens, and we're realized that we don't have to exalt ourselves anymore because we've been exalted in Christ, then that simply freezes up now to actually sit in the lowly places of society. And just give and serve. Rather than try to take from people to give us something we feel like we're missing in our lives. And Jesus even kind of goes on and gives us further perspective around that. In the next three verses, verse 12, it says, Then Jesus said to his host, so when you give a luncheon, or when you give a dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives or your rich neighbors, if you do, they may invite you back. And so you will be repaid. This was a culture of reciprocity. There was no such thing in this particular culture of a free gift. No one gave someone a gift just because they loved them. And they wanted to just bless them and expected nothing in return. People gave them things and gave other people things because they were expecting once they did, for them to reciprocate, and give them something back, right, I'm gonna give you this because it's in my best interest for what it is that I'm going to get back in return from you. No one just served someone else because they loved them and wanted to be a blessing to them. You serve someone in order to get something from them. And so when you invited someone to a party, knowing that there was honor and status and recognition built around those things, then you would be thinking, Who are the people that I know are going to give me more honor and recognition and status? Because they'll invite me back to their party? And they have more of it than I do? And Jesus says, no, no, no, no, that's not the way to think about these things. He even goes on in verse 13, and says, but when you give a banquet, invite the poor, invite the crippled, invite the lane, invite the blame the blind. And then Jesus says in verse 14, and you will be blessed. Now. I can only imagine the culture that Jesus was speaking this into, and knowing it was a culture of reciprocity, that when they heard that they were thinking, Are you kidding me? If I invite those people, you're saying that I'm going to be blessed, there is no way. If I invite those people, I'm committing social suicide. They can't give me back anything, I'm not gonna get any honor or recognition or status, they can't repay me. And that is what our culture is built on. This is how I make a name for myself. This is how I get honor and status and recognition and meaning and purpose. This is how I make sure that my life has been fulfilled, what are you talking about, I'm going to be blessed. Verse 14, Jesus says, although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. God, Jesus is saying that if you quit using people, because that's what you're doing, if you quit using people to try to gain status and honor and recognition, but instead begin to actually invest in people's lives without expecting anything in return, then you'll experience me working in you and through you to get a hold of their lives. And you're gonna see many of these people in heaven with you one day, and oh, what a blessing it will be what an honor, it will be for you to be able to see how I worked through you to bring them internal significance instead of what little you were chasing down here. Oh, what a blessing. That will be. And so as we look at this parable that Jesus tells here, the parable of the wedding feast this, what we're looking for what we said this upside down kingdom message series is about is is looking for the values of his kingdom, right? That that the values that are were to recognize of his kingdom, and how he wants to manifest those values through you and I who are now part of His kingdom. Remember, that's what happens the moment we say yes to Jesus, again, we're spiritually seated in heaven, we become a part of His kingdom. He leaves us here as ambassadors of the kingdom, we're now really ultimately from and now he's wanting to show us the values of the kingdom we're from so he can manifest those values into the world that we live in the world that he created, so he can use them to turn the world upside down to gain people's attention to bring more and more people into that kingdom.And the value that we see here of the kingdom, what's valued in God's kingdom is humility in serving others without expectation of anything in return. And when Jesus begins to manifest that value of humility and serving others without expecting anything in return, that will get other people's attention, that will flip the values of this world upside down. Because the world is so used to seeing people invest and serve in themselves. The world is so used to seeing people exalt themselves, the world is so used to seeing people use other people to justify themselves. And so when they begin to see something different, that we are serving someone without any expectation of anything in return, just to invest them and allow God to use us to love them, and serve them and point them to his love and grace and mercy in their lives as well. People going, what is up with that? How are they just serving people with no expectation of getting anything from them, that's not going to do anything for them. And he's going to use that to make a difference in those people's lives, but also to capture the attention of others around us to be able to ask questions, and wonder what all of those things are about. And so I think when we see a parable like that, and we're looking for how this might apply to our lives, we've got to first and foremost, say, okay, um, I have, I've been spending most of my life trying to exalt myself, trying to gain my own status and recognition and honor and significance and basing it on, that's what this is all about. And if there is a God, then I make the most of my time down here and achieve a certain status, then, you know, I'll be okay. In the end, then we've got to recognize, first and foremost, maybe the application for you, if that's you today is, like we said earlier, the only proper response when there's a revelation of who God really is, is to humble yourself before Him and say, Oh, my gosh, there is a God and I am not him, and to receive the grace and the mercy that he's giving us based on the finished work of his son that he sent out of his love for you. And so maybe for some of you, that's the application today is he's going to lead you to take a step of faith and receive his complete forgiveness and add you into his particular kingdom. But there are some of us who have taken that step. We're a part of His kingdom, we have the honor, we have the recognition, we have the status in Christ. And yet, if we're all honest, we're still looking around the rest of the world, thinking how can I get more recognition? How can I get more status, who what who is it that can bring me what it is that I feel like I'm missing in my life. And if that's you today, then know the truth that you have been exalted, you have honor and recognition and status in him. And he's freed you from the bondage of having to chase after those things in the world that are never ultimately going to satisfy so that he can use you to just be a blessing to others around you. And for you to receive that blessing of how he's working in through you to make an eternal significance in other people's lives. There's a number of ways Jesus may want to manifest this value of humility and serving others without expectation in return, I want to give you one and highlight one in particular that I think he may be calling many of us to at Colonial hills, one of the ministries one of our mission partners in the Tyler area is the mentoring Alliance and the mentoring Alliance serves kids in the Tyler area who are kind of at risk kids and and those who come from broken homes, single parent homes, and in low income areas, a lot of times the Father is in prison or not existent in their lives and, and they do several different things in our community. They have an after school program, which is absolutely incredible for kids like this to be able to come to every day and be around people who love them and care about them and and serve them and build them up and and just walk alongside of them. They have summer camps that people can go to in these kinds of situations all summer long. And there are credible programs that really do help a lot of these kids out. But the third thing that they do is they have a mentoring program where they partner with local churches like us and other churches all throughout Tyler and ask people to consider mentoring someone in these particular situations and to just spend once or twice a month with these kids investing in them and serving them and not looking for anything in return, but just how Jesus wants to manifest this value of loving and serving without those expectations to see what he can do to convince and help people see the love and the mercy and the grace that he's offering them. To give you a picture of what it is that I'm talking about. And the way this works, we've got a video that tells the story of one of those mentors. So check this story out.It was during that time, Ron, he had gotten in trouble at school, we had to drag him into the school building, like four years old. So he had like, all these battles going on with them, and just so much rage out, I was handing out the punishment. And I was like, Why, like, I want to know what's going on, like, tell me because I'm always about trying to understand. And he was like, everybody in my life leaves me. And it broke my heart.My dad wasn't in my life as much, and it was just very hard for me,Ryan want that relationship? Bring your dad to school. You know, talk about your dad, you know, dads and doughnuts. Whereas my dad, you know, I feel that, that he doesn't have that. Andit hurts him. You're talking about your dad not being around.Right, all right.I would love him to know that. You're so strong. You're so beautiful. Not just here. But beautiful. Inside, your soul glows. And you have strength beyond your understanding. Your know, God has so much for you. beyond your expectations beyond your wildest dreamsit's been two years. It's like confusing. Very at first now realize, after three months, he wasn't gonna leave me. All other people.Now, Mr. marandi like, I don't know if my son will be able to identify with him. But this ranges, I'm caught in there with my kids. Mr. Bradley was just it was on like to come to the hospital waiting room. And we're sitting there looking like what are you what are you talking about? We were very uncomfortable initially. But Mr. Randy was just so full of love. He just had this OHS tool, you know, and I was like, Okay, God,this is a deep mystery. Not just marriage, right. But parents and what a parents and fathers represent a children. And we know it's deep. And it's really important and it's sacred.As a kid, you need a man to grow up tilaka someone so you know what to do with your kids when you have kids. So, you know that is there. Now I know to me that for likingsI would want Orion to know that his value is in Christ. He can lean into and trust Jesus, and Jesus won't ever leave him. And that's really a lot of the core of his hurt early on right as the men have left. So hopefully we'll have a a human figure that will be way less than perfect, but then we committed to Him and that that's just a small picture of the perfect father who will never leave him. Right. I'm perfect.Don't get me wrong.He still struggles in areas. Mr. Randy. Well, he's barely alive. We are alive is this Mr. Rainey aesthetic guys. At midnight. Been to I still have to do is ministry and I'm grateful forI believe in your soul. I know we need each other. I know. Our love is DrawohI think that's what it looks like to invite the poor, and the lame and the crippled, and all of these in different ways, not anyone that's valued any less than anyone else, but may, who may in our own society, not be seen as valued and worth others, to invite them to the dinner table to a dinner party is to invite someone into fellowship, to invite someone into our lives to do life with and that is one of the most powerful ways that our God works to change people's lives around us to bring this world upside down. And so, my my hope, and my prayer is that there would be a lot of us who would get least consider being a mentor, you're seeing some of those in our church who are already signed up to be a mentor. And it is such an incredible blessing. I've been a mentor for almost two years now to a kid whose name is is J, K. And J. K is such a joy to be around and what a privilege it is to, to be a person that God can use to invest in him and show him value and worth. And when when Jesus said, You will be blessed in those ways, I'm probably way more blessed than he is with me being his mentor. And so we have the mentoring Alliance here today, my friend Ashley is here at a table out there. And she's ready to tell you all about how you could sign up to be a mentor today, or how you could get more information about being a mentor. If you stop by and see her you're not signing up for anything necessarily today. But you're just saying, Hey, I'd love to hear more information. And at least pray Jesus Is this one of the ways that this message applies to me in this moment, it may or not, may not be this message could apply a number of different ways. But this, I want to give you some times every now and then just some really practical ways on how Jesus may be leading you to take a next step in your lives. And this is one of those that we feel that as a church to partner with. And we do on a regular basis. And we want to be even more involved with what God's doing in and through the mentoring Alliance as well. I hope that you'll consider that as we pray, Father, thank You for Your Word, and the truth that's found there. Thank you for how we see through this parable that you taught Jesus about the values of your kingdom, humility of how you value serving others without expecting anything in return, and how you work through these things to captivate a lost and dying world around us to bring your love and mercy and grace into their lives as well. Jesus, we make ourselves available to you. For those of us who have said yes to you, would you show us if being a mentor is one of the ways that you're leading us to respond to this message right now in this moment? Or would you reveal however it is to apply and what it is to look like, in our lives tomorrow, and Tuesday, and the week after that, and on and on and on. Father, I pray for anyone who might be here today who's been working to achieve and working to find status and honor and recognition and have never taken a step of humility towards you God, that you might open up their hearts, to see who you are. They'll know how much you love them and care about them and the forgiveness and the grace that you're offering them even in this moment, and that you might leave them to humble themselves to take a step of faith and receive you in their lives this morning. No matter of fact, if that's even you this morning, and you're saying I I'm recognizing that there is a God and that I'm not him. And I want to take that step of faith. But I don't know how you could just say, a simple prayer like this even in this moment. Dear God, I recognize that I'm a sinner, and that my sin separates me from you. Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. And right now, in this moment, I humbled myself. I put my faith and trust in You, Jesus to be my savior. Please forgive me. Come live in me and begin to work through me to make a difference in other people's lives. In this world thank you for loving me thank you for saving me thank you for giving me abundant life even in this moment in Jesus name amen