These are notes on the sermon, Understanding Grace and Discipleship—Comparing Luke 14 and Luke 15, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 8 December 2013, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!
Be sure to sign up to get updates on the latest sermon notes by Team JP.
Sometimes God teaches us through the comparison of Scripture (e.g. contrasting two consecutive chapters) so that we can understand the difference between the ways of grace and the ways of the law.
Comparing John 3 and John 4
John 3 records an encounter Jesus has with a theologian named Nicodemus while John 4 talks about Jesus’ interaction with a sinner woman from Samaria. The Holy Spirit divinely ordered these two events to be side-by-side to show us how the Lord treats those who approach Him as a teacher as compared to those who see Him as a Savior.
In John 3 (John 3:1–2), we see that Nicodemus went to see Jesus late at night because he did not want others to see him meeting Jesus. In contrast, John 4 (John 4:4–7) shows us how our Lord Jesus went to find the Samaritan woman. Jesus is at home with sinners.
God wants us all to be students of His Word but not in the sense of being religious and boastful about our knowledge. The theologians who went to Jesus knew all the rabbinical writings but they did not recognize Him—the author of the Torah they supposedly knew so well.
“Rabbi, we know” — These were Nicodemus’ first few words to Jesus, boasting in his knowledge. And Jesus responded to him by telling him that with all his erudite upbringing, he needed to be born again. Yet, the Lord never spoke these strong words to the Samaritan woman. Instead, He spoke to her gently and revealed Himself to her as the Messiah.
The Lord does not want us to merely see Him as a teacher, as someone we can learn from. Some people might feel that they can do everything by themselves and only turn to Jesus as a teacher they can learn from. This is a form of pride. Instead, the Lord wants us to take nourishment from Him. He calls Himself the bread of life and wants us to eat of this bread!
Jesus wanted to be alone with the Samaritan woman so that He could minister to her. The cure for a lonely heart is time alone with Jesus.
“Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
—John 4:16–18 NKJV
When Jesus spoke to the woman, He spoke with divine tact.
“You have well said” — The Greek translation of this phrase actually means, “You have beautifully said.”
The Lord praised the Samaritan woman for being honest. This is how the Lord deals with sinners. He approaches them not with an attitude of condemnation. Instead, He gently let them know that He knows everything about them and still loves them! Having experienced Jesus’ grace toward her, the Samaritan woman became an instant evangelist to everyone in her village.
After the Lord’s encounter with the Samaritan woman, He was refreshed and at rest. This was because a sinner had come and taken from Him. This is what makes Him feel at home.
In this sermon, we will be comparing the events in Luke 14 and Luke 15. These two chapters talk about two worlds: Luke 14 talks about the world of man while Luke 15 shows us the kingdom of heaven. In both chapters, Jesus shares three parables—these two sets of parables can be understood as parables of law (in Luke 14) and parables of grace (in Luke 15). From these parables, we will be able to see how grace supplies while the law demands.
Luke 14—the world of Man, fueled by the pride of life
“Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. Then He answered them, saying, "Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?" And they could not answer Him regarding these things.”
—Luke 14:1–6 NKJV
“they watched Him closely” — Jesus did not feel at home in this place. He was being scrutinized because the Pharisees were trying to find fault with Him.
“Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” — After Jesus healed a man with dropsy, He was met with disapproval from the Pharisees for healing on the Sabbath. This is when He made it clear that He sees those who have fallen sick as though they have fallen into a pit and need help to be pulled out. Sick people are not meant to be given requirements to meet before they can receive their healing. They are meant to be helped immediately. The Lord has compassion for those who are sick and His heart is to heal them.
“So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
—Luke 14:7–11 NKJV
“he who humbles himself will be exalted” — God does not want us to exalt ourselves. When we do so, we put ourselves in a stressful position where we have to constantly maintain this image we have created for ourselves. Instead, when we humble ourselves, the Lord will exalt us. When the Lord exalts us, He puts us in a position that cannot be shaken by others.
Parable of the Great Supper
“Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’”
—Luke 14:16–17 NKJV
“a great supper” — This great feast is not just a physical feast but a spiritual feast set up by the Lord for us. There has never been a richer feast than this.
“all things are now ready” — This feast includes every blessing you need (e.g. healing, family life, provision). Everything at this feast has been prepared for us by the Lord to freely enjoy!
Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it came cheap. The Lord’s blessings are free because they were paid for by His priceless blood. His finished work at the cross completely fulfilled all the claims of God’s holy law, rendering our sins forgiven, making us righteous, giving us access to all the good things He has for us.
This includes healing. Jesus mentions in the Gospels that healing is the children’s bread. You will find healing at this great feast that you are invited to.
“sent his servant at supper time” — This servant in this parable is a picture of the Holy Spirit. In Genesis 24, the unnamed servant (whom Abraham sent to find a bride for his son Isaac) is also a picture of the Holy Spirit.
Isaac is a picture of our Lord Jesus. We can see this from Genesis 22, when Abraham was willing to give up Isaac as a sacrifice (Gen. 22:12). This is a picture of God the Father giving up His only Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for us.
Isaac is a picture of Jesus, and his bride is a picture of the church. In Genesis 24, the unnamed servant went out to look for the woman who would become Isaac’s bride. This is the longest chapter in the book of Genesis because Isaac’s bride, Rebecca, is a picture of the church—you and I—and we are dear to the Lord’s heart.
The unnamed servant, a picture of the Holy Spirit, was never named because the Holy Spirit did not come to draw attention to Himself but to draw attention to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Parable of the Great Supper (continued)
“Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many (‘polus’), and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’”
—Luke 14:16–17 NKJV
A richer feast cannot be put before men because God prepared this feast. There is no need in our lives or exigencies that can arise that cannot be met at this table. Whether it is something for your mind (e.g. perpetual peace, freedom from stress) or deliverance from addiction, whatever we need is found at this table.
You would think that man would break down the doors to get to this table, but this is man’s response:
“But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’”
—Luke 14:18–20 NKJV
Even though there was a rich feast laid in front of them, the people gave poor excuses not to come because their hearts were too blind and hardened to receive from the Lord. Man’s hearts are so predisposed to sin and evil that they cannot recognize or receive the goodness of God.
“So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’”
—Luke 14:21–22 NKJV
“the master of the house, being angry” — Even this anger shows God’s heart of love. He is angry that He has so much to give and provide for man, yet man refuses to take it.
“still there is room” — Even after the servant brought in the people from the streets and lanes, there was still room for more people to enjoy the feast. This is a picture of how the Lord’s lavish supply for us always exceeds our needs!
When the Lord first introduced the Passover to the children of Israel, He told each family to take a lamb (a picture of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ), and “if any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor” (Exod. 12:4). This tells us that it is never the case that the lamb is too small for the household but that the household is too small for the lamb!
God’s supply will always exceed the demands in our lives. Not only does He fill us up until we are satisfied, but He supplies us so lavishly there is always plenty left.
God’s grace is greater than sin. How can Jesus’ death be effective in removing the sins of all men for all time? What Jesus did to make us forgiven and righteous forever is much more efficacious than what Adam did to make us sinners.
After Adam sinned, all men were born sinners. No sinner could change his position as a sinner by doing good. Now that Jesus has come to die for our sins and make us righteous, we cannot change our position of righteousness by doing wrong. And when we believe our new-found identity as the righteousness of God in Christ, sin loses dominion over us!
“Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ ”
—Luke 14:23–24 NKJV
“compel them to come in” — We are not merely invitees but guests compelled to God’s feast. God does not compel us by force or in a way that disregards our will. Instead, He compels us by showing us His goodness and moving our hearts to be willing to receive His grace.
What is it about us that we need to be compelled to receive good things from the Lord? When we are in heaven one day, we will look around and see that every person there was not merely invited but compelled. It was not our smarts that drew us to Jesus but the compelling of the Holy Spirit.
“And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
—John 6:65–69 NKJV
“no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” — There are some people who are proud in thinking that they chose the Lord. Many of the seventy disciples who followed Jesus walked away from Him because they could not accept that it was the grace of God the Father that drew them to Jesus and not their own intellect and desire to learn.
Today, we get to enjoy the free favors and goodness of God because He first compelled and drew us to Him. It is all by grace!
“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,”
—Luke 14:25 NKJV
“great multitudes” — These were the people who were present at the house with Jesus earlier (the Pharisees, rich neighbors, etc.). They followed Jesus because they wanted to witness Him perform miracles, to follow His example and pattern. They were there to see Jesus as a teacher, not a Savior. They approached Jesus wanting to learn His ways of success but not feed on Him. But the Lord wants us to approach Him as our Savior.
Every day we need saving (from lust, anger, bad temperament, stress, and worries, etc.). Even though we are to see Jesus as our example, that is not mainly what Jesus wants to be to us. First and foremost, we are to see Him as our Savior.
“Therefore be imitators (‘mimētēs’) of God as dear (‘agapētos’ — beloved) children.”
—Ephesians 5:1 NKJV
“imitators (‘mimētēs’)” — The Greek translation of this word is “mimētēs,” which means “mimic.”
“dear (‘agapētos’ — beloved) children” — The Greek translation of the word “dear” is “agapētos,” which means “beloved.” This is the same word that was used when the heavens opened after our Lord Jesus was baptized in the Jordan river and our Heavenly Father said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).
“Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].”
—Ephesians 5:1 AMP
The way we end up imitating God—learning from Him and following His ways—is by knowing that we are loved by Him! The first thing the Lord wants us to wake up knowing every day is that He loves us and delights in saving us. The Lord did not just save us one time or once in a while. He saves us every day from the negative situations we may find ourselves in!
Practical wisdom for parenting: Children will imitate their parents when they know they are loved by them. The best way to bring up your children is to affirm them with your love and set good examples for them. They will imitate you!
“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
—Luke 14:25–27 NKJV
“great multitudes went with Him” — The great multitude that followed Jesus went to Him for different self-righteous reasons instead of seeing Him as a Savior. The Lord was not comfortable with this and responded to them with three parables of demands, telling them they had to bear their cross in order to be His disciples. If they saw Jesus only as an example, then they had to do what He did—give up everything just like how He forsook all of heaven to purchase us, the pearl of great price.
Yet, many people today misconstrue this portion of Scripture and think that as believers, we need to learn to count the cost. However, this portion of Scripture was spoken to people who sought to be a disciple of Jesus, seeing Him as a teacher or example to follow.
Actually, under the new covenant as seen in all the epistles and all the letters to the church after the book of Acts, the word “disciple” is not mentioned. This does not mean that there is no place for discipleship (in the sense of being a student of God’s Word). But it is not right to exalt the teaching of discipleship above Sonship and grace.
After the great multitude heard Jesus give such a tall order, they dispersed, and another group of people came to Jesus: the tax collectors and sinners who saw Jesus as a Savior.
“Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”
—Luke 15:1–2 NKJV
When Jesus was with the Pharisees and the great multitude who drew near to Him, He did not feel at home. But the moment this group of sinners drew near to Him, His whole heart opened up to them and He shared with them three beautiful parables of grace to minister to them. This was because they connected with Jesus as a Savior. They were not there to learn but to be saved, and He loved it!
When the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, "This Man receives sinners and eats with them,” Jesus responded with the parable of the lost sheep.
Parable of the Lost Sheep
“So He spoke this parable to them, saying: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”
—Luke 15:3–7 NKJV
“leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it” — Naturally, a shepherd would not leave behind ninety-nine sheep for one sheep. But our Good Shepherd, Jesus, left all of heaven to seek us out.
“one sinner who repents” — This is a parable about repentance. But how does one repent? This parable shows us that the sheep repented by simply consenting to being carried by its Shepherd, to rest on His shoulders, and to be loved. The sheep repented by consenting to be loved—this is the true meaning of repentance.
After telling the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus told the parables of the lost coin and the prodigal son.
In these three parables of grace, the focus was not on the joy of the one who was found but the joy of the One who found the lost! The shepherd who found his lost sheep, the woman who found her lost coin, and the father who found his lost son were overjoyed. These parables show us how happy God is when He recovers us, saves us, redeems us!
“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
—Luke 15:10 NKJV
“there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” — It is not the angels rejoicing, but God Himself rejoicing when a sinner repents.
When the Lord entered the world of the Pharisees, one that was full of self-righteousness, He did not feel at home. But what makes Him feel at home is sinners coming to Him and consenting to be saved and loved by Him.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me home. Thank You Father, for loving sinners. I’m a sinner, I cannot save myself. But Jesus died in my place. Christ died for sinners, so I qualify. He bore my sins, He took my judgment, He suffered my curse that I might be blessed and made righteous. On the third day that You raised Him from the dead, death was conquered for me. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, now and forever. Teach me, Father, to lean on Him, on His strong shoulders of strength and power, all the days of my life. Thank You, Father, for filling me with Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
“This coming week, the Lord bless you and your families. The Lord blesses you with the blessings of father Abraham, the blessings of Deuteronomy 28, for Christ has redeemed you, ransomed you from all the curses of the law. There’s nothing left but blessings for you this week. The Lord makes His face shine upon you, be favorable to you and your loved ones. May you find yourself at the right place at the right time throughout this week, enjoying the free favors of God, the goodness of your God. The Lord lifts up His countenance on you and yours. And grants to you and your loved ones His shalom health, peace, and wholeness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
“So He spoke this parable to them, saying: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”
—Luke 15:3–5 NKJV
Are you feeling stuck, trapped, or lost? Is there something causing you anxiety, pain, or sorrow? Beloved, whether it is a health challenge, a financial struggle, or a difficult situation you are facing, our Lord Jesus wants you to know that He will seek you out and save you from any situation you are in.
This week, even in the midst of your trouble, pause and remember the Lord’s love toward you. Take time to meditate on this parable of the Lord seeking out the lost sheep and carrying it on His shoulders. See the Lord carrying you, loving you, and saving you out of your trouble. He has gone ahead and prepared for every need in your life. Your portion is to simply rest in His love!
We hope these sermon notes blessed you! If they did, we encourage you to get the sermon and allow the Lord to speak to you personally as you watch or listen to it.
© Copyright JosephPrince.com 2013
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.
Sign Up for Latest Sermon Notes UpdatesSubscribe
To complete the subscription process, please click on the confirmation link in the email we just sent you.
You're already in our mailing list. Thank You!