Summary: While it is normal for many to have a primary concern for self, followers of Christ are to give priority to others above self.
A teacher may say to a student who is not doing too well in school, “You need to give studying more priority in your life.” An employer may say to an employee who habitually arrives late to work, “You need to get your priorities straight.” A coach may say to a player who has become lazy and is not playing to his potential, “You need to give more attention to training and practice – your priorities need adjusting.” As we study God’s word it becomes obvious God intends us to have certain priorities in life. The Ten Commandments begin with the command to give Him first priority.
3 "You shall have no other gods before Me."
4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth."
Of course God is to be the highest priority in our lives. When He is we also are given many other priorities that are to become extremely important to us. As you read through the rest of the Ten Commandments you will see other priorities both concerning our relationship with God and our relationship with each other. As we read through the Bible there is much to say concerning our priorities both with God and with each other. Jesus had much to say concerning our priorities in life.
We are going to begin this new year of 2011 by focusing on our priorities. We will be giving attention to the priorities we find Jesus giving attention to in Luke 14 through Luke 16. As we continue in our study from the Gospel of Luke and look at this portion of Jesus’ life I am not saying these are the only priorities Jesus taught, or that these are in any particular order of importance. We will be studying the priorities we find in this portion of God’s word which will include (as you can see on your bulletin cover): The Priority of Others; The Priority of Commitment; The Priority of Discipleship; The Priority of Concern; The Priority of Stewardship. Let’s understand first of all that if God is not the FIRST PRIORITY in life, these and many other priorities have any real or lasting consequence.
Recently I have heard, and I have said to many people, “Have a happy new year!” There certainly is nothing wrong in such a statement, but it is based on a wish that good things will come to another during the year. I want to ask you a thought question – Do you think God is more concerned with what comes our way during the year or with how we respond to things that come our way? Do you think God is more concerned with our being happy because we have been recipients of the things we desire in life; or is He more concerned with our being faithful to Him regardless of what comes our way in life? Some might argue that is a false choice because those who are truly faithful to the Lord have an inner joy that is greater than any of the things that come to life. May each of us make His priorities our priorities! I believe that is a very important ingredient to having a truly wonderful 2011 and years thereafter.
This morning as we give attention to Luke 14:1-14 we will see that Jesus expects us to have others on our priority check list. Many people make resolutions for the new year. Perhaps as we go through priority checks this month each of us will make some resolutions – or in more Biblical terminology, we will repent and make His priorities our priorities.
I. GIVE PEOPLE HIGHER PRIORITY
1 It happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely.
2 And there in front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy.
3 And Jesus answered and spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?"
4 But they kept silent. And He took hold of him and healed him, and sent him away.
5 And He said to them, "Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?"
6 And they could make no reply to this.
Jesus ate with people from many backgrounds. When He ate with the Pharisees it seems their reason for inviting Him was not to be friendly, or hospitable, but to seek to entrap Him for something He might do or say that they could accuse Him of wrong doing. So it appears at this meal. There was a man at the meal who most likely would not be at the home of the high-ranking Pharisee. This man would have been swollen by the accumulation of water in soft tissue. His legs and arms would be very enlarged and painful. The swelling would not be restricted to arms and legs, but to other parts of the body as well. Some of the Pharisees believed this painful condition was the result of immorality. It is quite possible this man was brought to the Pharisee’s home to put Jesus to a test. It was the Sabbath, the day of rest, a holy day. They were adamant that no work should be done on the Sabbath - including healing. They had their priorities misplaced. Their priority was keeping their traditions concerning the Law. Jesus is about to challenge their priorities with the TRUTH.