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Humbling the Exalted--Exalting the Humble B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
May 27, 2024 4:00 am

Humbling the Exalted--Exalting the Humble B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Grace To You
John MacArthur
Beacon Baptist
Gregory N. Barkman
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer

But Jesus is saying you want to be a part of the resurrection of the righteous, entering into the Kingdom of God eternally, then you're going to need to humble yourself and the kind of humiliation and self-effacing that is going to allow you to open your arms and embrace all the people you hate, all the people you separate from. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Today John MacArthur continues his compelling series titled Stories With Purpose with an in-depth look at a parable Jesus told that cuts to the heart of a foundational sin, pride.

So what does it take not to think more of yourself than you should to resist pride and cultivate humility? You're going to hear a practical solution today from a story about a fictional party. But before we get to the lesson on this Memorial Day in the United States, you may be taking a break from your usual activities, and we're glad you've tuned in. We're grateful to our radio partners who are not taking a break and are keeping the Bible teaching flowing on this station. And with that in mind, John, you have a couple of letters there that speak to the power of God's Word in people's lives and to the power of radio in that process.

So please read those notes. It's encouraging stuff. You know, just thinking, Phil, I don't know if people write letters to podcasters, but they certainly write letters to us at Grace To You Radio. We're grateful for them.

Here's one to start with. I enjoy driving into work like never before these days because Grace To You is on bot radio to encourage and challenge me. I'm working from home today but did not want to miss the message titled Jet Tour Through Revelation.

So I found you online and listened in my home office this morning. I was looking for a unique way to read God's Word in 2024. So I'm taking your challenge to read one book or a portion of a book for a month at a time. I began with Galatians to be followed by James, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Romans, Hebrews, and John. I haven't planned beyond that.

That's a pretty good start. But I am anxious to grow closer to the Lord through focus, repetition, and memorization of His Word this year. I'm taking notes so that I will have key verses and themes from each book to review for years to come. And she closes the letter, thank you so much for your ministry and signs are named Diane. Thank you, Diane.

That's the way to go. That's the way to take in the Word of God in a meaningful and lasting way. Here's another letter from Daniel.

I just want to let you know that there's a 41-year-old father of two who listens to 91.3 FM WSEB radio in Englewood, Florida, daily. And that the sermons I hear give me hope for the future and hope for my children, a three-year-old son and a four-month-old daughter. As I write this, I'm praying and thanking the Lord for the insight I received from the teaching of grace to you, God be with you and yours, and signs is named Daniel. We share those letters with you to remind you that biblical truth is a vital factor in people's lives, in their family's lives. And we're committed to continue to bring God's Word to God's people and to the rest of the world through the radio, all through the MacArthur Study Bible, our website, topical books, MP3s, booklets, study guides, and of course what you're hearing even today on Grace to You. And just a reminder that when you support Grace to You through your gifts and your prayers, you help countless people grow in their understanding and application of divine truth.

You strengthen them as they minister to their families and serve the church. Even though you may never meet these people until heaven, you have an impact on their lives by supporting Grace to You. So thank you for your part in helping us unleash God's truth, one verse at a time. Yes, friend, thank you for taking part through prayers and gifts, in ministering to people like Diane and Daniel across the globe.

And now to minister to us through God's Word, here again is John MacArthur. Luke 14, 7 through 14, and he began speaking a parable to the invited guests when he noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, "'When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him and he who invited you both shall come and say to you, give place to this man and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, friend, move up higher. Then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you, for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.' And he also went on to say to the one who invited him, "'When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and repayment come to you.

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.'" Lunch at the home of a Pharisee. Jesus violating their Sabbath tradition but not violating the Law of God.

There is no such prohibition for healing on the Sabbath in the Bible. This was their own embellishments. But He unmasked their hypocrisy by saying, "'You think I'm breaking your Law to heal this man who's drowning in this fluid in his body, but if you had a son or an ox that fell into a well of fluid and it was a Sabbath day, you'd get him out because you love your son and because your ox is worth money.'"

And He unmasked their hypocrisy and that's why they couldn't reply. Having done that, He then turns to speak in verse 7 and He speaks, it says, a parable. Actually there are a couple of stories, a couple of scenarios that He paints here that are so fascinating. Let's just look at three things. First the illustration, then the assumption behind the illustration, and then the application.

Very simple. The illustration. Jesus uses this social event on a Sabbath afternoon following the synagogue service in the morning where He has been invited to be a guest at the home of a Pharisee, not because they wanted to honor Him, but because they wanted to discredit Him. The places of honor were not marked with a sign. They were determined by the host. But the nearer you were to the host, the more honor you had. And honor was a big thing to them.

I mean, they lived in an honor-shame kind of world and that was a part of the culture itself, but in particular was a part of their perspective because they were desperately desirous of being elevated in the eyes of men. These illustrations had to do with the Kingdom of God and they knew it. By the way, they had interesting seats in those days, a little reading about that, called triclinium, seated three people. It was a couch and seated three people on each couch. So there would be one couch at the head with the host in the middle and the most important dignitaries on either side.

And then those couches would go along. They reclined on their elbow and ate at leisure, as you know. Now how did you get the chief seat? How did that work? How did you get to the front? Well, Jesus explains how you get to the front because you have the capability to reciprocate.

The end of verse 12, repayment come to you. This is how the whole system worked, okay? The host honored you because you honored him.

That was the game they played. The closer to the host, the more important you were. Because the host honored you, you then had to honor the host.

If you show him honor, he'll show you honor. It was all about reciprocation. And so, in a sense, only the people who were able to reciprocate could scramble for the chief seats. The rest who didn't have what it took to reciprocate wouldn't want to be held to that standard.

So it was the more prominent ones, perhaps the more wealthy ones. Now Jesus says to them, let me say this to you. When you're invited by someone to a wedding feast, don't take the place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him. And he who invited you both shall come and say to you, give place to this man and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you're invited, go and recline at the last place so that when the one who's invited you comes, he may say to you, friend, move up higher. Then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. I mean, what is this etiquette? Is he giving them good advice to be a better hypocrite?

No. This is an analogy, parabole, something placed alongside something else. This is an illustration, an example, an analogy, a metaphor, a picture. And he's not even talking about lunch, he's talking about a wedding feast. So he moves himself away from that event so as not to directly criticize that. And he picks the most formal and the biggest event that a community would have, a wedding feast. And he says, when you are invited to a wedding feast, don't take the place of honor. Don't rush to that chief's seat and find that all of a sudden somebody shows up who is more distinguished in the eyes of the host, or more capable of reciprocation than you are and you're going to find yourself being told, get out of that seat, give place to this man and then in disgrace you're going to find yourself at the back.

You've gone from the proverbial penthouse to the outhouse. The wise thing to do, he says in verses 10 and 11, is start at the last place so that when the one who has invited you comes and sees you there, he's going to say, ah, prosannabino, move all the way up. You belong in the front. And then you're going to have honor in the side of all, or at the table they're going to say, oh, look, oh, look at him going way up. That's good advice. I think that's practical advice. You know, be humble when you go to an event like that.

Don't rush to sit in the chief's seat. You know, in a sense this was nothing new, nothing really revolutionary. These guys were experts in the Old Testament. They were experts in the Law of God. They probably remembered Proverbs 25, 7, it is better for it to be said to you, come up here, than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince whom your eyes have seen. It's just built on that, Proverbs 25, 6 and 7. It's a lot better to be told to come to the front than to be told to go to the back. Is that all it's about?

No, it's way more than that. This is all about the Kingdom of God. This is all about clamoring for the chief place in the Kingdom of God, rushing in a display of pride and arrogance to the front, only to be told by God, get out of that seat in your effort to get prominence before the host of heaven, before the master of heaven. You think to elevate yourself, like the Pharisee in Luke 18, I thank you that I'm not like other men, I tithe, I do this, I fast twice a week, etc., etc., I'm a righteous...this is a rush for the chief seat next to the host of heaven in the Kingdom. And what's going to happen is you're going to be sent to the very end. Think not to elevate yourselves, only to end up shamed, only to end up reassigned, only to end up removed from any proximity to the host, sent to the farthest most remote place in the domain of the host. Jesus is saying you ought to learn how to humble yourself.

You ought to learn how to take the last place. This is the message He gave over and over and over and over. Humble yourself, humble yourself, take the lowly place and God will lift you up. And then in verse 12 He turns to the host who is not a part of the mad scramble because his seat is already determined.

But He's not going to let him off the hook. So He says to him, verse 12, 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 lest they also invite you in return and repayment come to you. There's that reciprocation system. 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. Oh, now we know we're talking about a spiritual reality and so did they know. That's why one of them commented about the Kingdom of God in verse 15.

They knew exactly what He was talking about. In fact, He may have said more and this is just a condensed part of it. By the way, we know here in this section that the man had invited Jesus because verse 12 says, He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, Jesus wasn't a drop-in guest, it was all set up to trap Him. He was there on their perspective for evil purposes on His, He was there to give them mercy and an invitation to come to the Kingdom. Since this man was left off the hook because he wasn't in the scramble, Jesus had to come up with another perspective to help Him view His own pride. And so He says, when you give a luncheon or a dinner, there were only two meals a day in Jewish life, there was Aristan early in the day, Dapenon dinner at the end of the day. On the Sabbath they added a third one in the morning, but it was only those two meals. And so He says, when you invite someone for any of those meals, do not invite...and let me just clarify not only invite.

This is a Semitic idiom, not so much would be a way to say it. It's not so much for you to invite your friends or your neighbors or your relatives or rich neighbors. It's not that that's an absolute prohibition, don't ever do it under any circumstance. Of course you're going to have your friends.

Of course you're going to have your brothers and your relatives and your rich neighbors because they're your neighbors. But what He is saying here is don't do that exclusively. And what He's doing is addressing the pride and the superiority and the self-seeking that He saw in their separation. And what they did was they only invited the people who could invite them back. It can I understand this? I guess maybe one way to say it would be this, an invitation to a meal with a Pharisee was a kind of currency in the market place of Jewish society.

It was a kind of currency. They exploited hospitality for the sake of self-glory and elevation. It was the you scratch my back, I'll scratch your back kind of thing. It was a way to elevate them, I'll elevate you and you elevate me. And Jesus says, why don't you instead of doing that all the time and only inviting the people who are going to promote you the way you promote them, why don't you give a reception and invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and be blessed? Why don't you, He is saying, humble yourself?

Why don't you humble yourself? Reciprocity basically ruled the ethics and the action of the social structure of the Pharisees. It was a gift obligation system.

It was a kind of currency, as I said. Every gift had strings. To accept an invitation was to agree to an equal obligation which controlled who was invited. You didn't invite somebody who couldn't reciprocate. Only those who could reciprocate were invited. And the better and more lavish could be the reciprocation the closer they sat to the host. And the lowly, my, the poor and the crippled, the lame and the blind had no capacity to reciprocate. And even if you invited them, they wouldn't accept an invitation because they would know they would then be obligated and be unable to perform.

And so it would be too embarrassing to ever accept that kind of invitation. You see, the hypocritical Pharisees had no such thing as a disinterested kindness. It was all self-serving. Our Lord is deconstructing their categories, you might say. He's overturning their conventional wisdom. He's exposing their selfishness. You only do this for the people who can pay you back, who can elevate you and honor you.

Just a note or two here. Reception in verse 13, doxane, a party, a banquet, a feast. Why don't you invite the destitute and the maimed and the people who can't walk and the people who can't see?

Those people would never be invited, never unless, as we saw with the man with dropsy, they were a foil to trap Jesus for a higher purpose. They separated themselves from the riffraff. This would be the death of their elevation.

This would defeat the whole system. The divide that defined Pharisees was a divide between the holy and the unholy, the rich, the poor, the honored and the despised. And if they invited these people, the separation, the middle would collapse and the system would come crashing down. And that's why the Pharisee in Luke 18 says, I thank You, God, that I'm not like that guy.

Who? That was emblematic of how they viewed anybody below them. And Jesus says, if you do that, you'll be blessed. Since they don't have the means to repay you, God implied will repay you at the resurrection of the righteous.

If you were to humble yourselves to that degree, you would give evidence of having the kind of heart that is prepared to enter the Kingdom. Our Lord is speaking about eternity. That's what the resurrection of the righteous indicates. The resurrection of the righteous simply means that time when the righteous come before God for their eternal reward. John 5, 28 and 29, Jesus is going to be there as the judge of the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous. But Jesus is saying you want to be a part of the resurrection of the righteous, entering into the Kingdom of God eternally, then you're going to need to humble yourself and the kind of humiliation and self-effacing that is going to allow you to open your arms and embrace all the people you hate, all the people you separate from. By the way, the resurrection was a big thing to the Pharisees. They believed in the resurrection according to Acts 23, 6 and Acts 24, 15. There were certainly other words that Jesus said clarifying all of this. It was all about humbling yourself. It was all about forgetting this reciprocity idea, all about knowing you're unworthy.

You're no better than the lowest of the low. Jesus is saying the Kingdom is only open to those who humble themselves. That's the illustrations. Look at the assumption behind them in verse 11. For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.

And here again, without saying so, God is the humbler and God is the exalter. This is a spiritual axiom. This is a spiritual principle. This is the assumption behind the parables.

This is the presupposition. Everyone who exalts, hapsao, who elevates, who lifts himself up, shall be tapenao, lowered, brought low, abased and it is God who does this. He is the unnamed actor in verse 11. Proverbs 16, 5, they knew that everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord and it will not be unpunished. God judges the proud and God blesses the humble. In fact, at the very beginning of the gospel of Luke, in the Magnificat of Mary, Mary says in Luke 1 46, my soul exalts the Lord, my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior for His regard for the humble state of His bond slave. And then down in verse 51, He's done mighty deeds with His arm.

He scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their hearts and has brought down rulers from their thrones and exalted those who were humble and filled the hungry with good things and sent away the rich empty-handed. I mean, there is Mary acknowledging that God reaches out to rescue the humble and brings judgment on the proud. Now what Jesus is saying here is not about social reconstruction. It's not some kind of etiquette training to be a better hypocrite.

It's not moral motivation. It's a picture of salvation that ends in final judgment, the judgment of the righteous. The resurrection of the righteous is where those who lived like this because they were humbled and put their trust in the living God and in His Son are then rewarded by God. It is also, as I said, the resurrection of the unrighteous where those who do not humble themselves will be humbled by God, sent to the remotest part of the divine domain where there is darkness and torment and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth like the servants who are sent away from the banquet into outer darkness. So the assumption, the truth behind the illustration is that honor and blessing in God's Kingdom salvation eludes those who think they can scramble for it and earn it. Honor and blessing in God's Kingdom comes to those who know they don't have it, they can't earn it, they don't deserve it and they come humbly to God, pounding their breast, God be merciful to me a sinner. By the way, the narrow door is not entered by people bloated with the edema of pride. It's not entered by people carrying baggage, the baggage of their achievement and their works. You say, well do you think Jesus explained this?

I don't know. I think He probably did explain some of it. That's why when He said the resurrection of the righteous, immediately they would have known He was talking about the Kingdom. That's why the question comes, blessed is everyone who shall eat in the Kingdom of God.

They knew what He was talking about. And yet there's a sense in which Jesus is not obligated to explain things because in Matthew it says He's hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes and that's why in many cases Jesus tells parables, explains them only to His own disciples. But here I think He extended mercy to them, His message to them always the same, works, merit, external religion, useless, pride in your own achievement, your own position, your own religiosity will shut you out of the Kingdom.

And then finally, just a comment about the application. It's just this, nobody's going to enter the Kingdom by merit. Nobody's going to enter the Kingdom by good works, by righteous deeds, certainly by self-promotion, spiritual pride, nor did God make extra laws to make some people more proud. But that's Pharisaism.

The idea was they would make more laws so in keeping those more laws they would then be more righteous. That is really blasphemy. Salvation has always been to the humble and the broken and the contrite and those who come and plead for mercy and grace and nothing more.

But let me close with just some reminders. In the greatest evangelistic sermon, the one that opens the New Testament, Jesus said this, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. It's about bankruptcy of spirit.

It's about weeping over your condition. It's about meekness. That's the way into the Kingdom. In the wonderful fourth chapter of James, it is crystal clear. Listen, verse 6, God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.

What do you do about it then? Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil, he will free from you. Draw near to God, he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and He will exalt you.

It's always like that. That's the way to the Kingdom. It was Paul, a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee, zealous, killer of Christians, defender of Phariseeism who was broken, penitent, saw himself as the chief of sinners, saw all of his merit and religious achievement as manure, Philippians 3, who cast himself on the mercy of God and said, it is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners among whom I am foremost of all. Jesus was saying to them that day, and to us, the way into the Kingdom is the way of humility, humbling yourself as a wretched sinner before God. Father, we thank You now that You have humbled us, that You have brought us to this place of humility. This is not some human virtue, but You have broken us by Your Spirit and Your Word and You have drawn us to an awareness of our own sin and hopelessness and then You have lifted us to look at the cross and see there the sacrifice for our sins. We thank You for the Lord Jesus Christ who responds to our humiliation, our shame, our sorrow with grace and salvation. Father, we now thank You for the wondrous time we've had in Your Word.

Its glories are endless and may we apply its truth. Would You humble us before You, the great and almighty God. Show us the folly of human pride and religious merit and efforts and ceremony and ritual and may we fall on our faces, humbling ourselves, pleading for mercy that You will always give the penitent believer in Christ and know that one day, having been humbled, we will be by You exalted in the glory of Your eternal Kingdom. Work Your work in every heart we pray in Christ's name.

Amen. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary with an important message on the dangers of spiritual pride. Today's lesson is from his current study called Stories with Purpose on Grace to You. And friend, going back to something John said before the lesson, when you stand with Grace to You financially, you're making a difference in people's lives across the globe. To partner with us in this Bible teaching outreach, express your support when you contact us today.

You can mail your tax-deductible gift to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412, or call us at 800-55-GRACE. You can also make a one-time donation or set up a recurring gift through our website, Thank you for your help in keeping messages like you heard today from John's study, Stories with Purpose, on radio stations around the world. And again, to express your support, visit or call us at 800-55-GRACE. And keep in mind that you have thousands of free Bible teaching resources available to you at If you want to learn what Scripture teaches on a topic like how to persevere through trials or how to handle temptations or how to study the Bible, you'll find a sermon or a blog article or a devotional that will meet your spiritual need. Our web address again,

Now for John MacArthur and our staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Join us tomorrow when John looks at another of Jesus' parables. It's a tale that is anything but heartwarming and encouraging, and yet it's just as life-changing now as it was when Jesus first told it 2,000 years ago. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-27 05:30:57 / 2024-05-27 05:42:17 / 11

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