ONEFAMILY Outreach

Sign up for Weekly Study:

ONEFamily Outreach exists to "Connect Kids to Community and Communities to Kids." Have you considered having a mission week for your church? This is one of my favorite "in-depth" ways of reaching out with the Great News of Jesus Christ. Activities can include:

  • Interactive and participative praise concerts for children, youth, and families;
  • Morning staff studies on "Authentic Leadership" and "Building a Culture of Intentional Courtesy"
  • Brown-Bag Luncheon Studies for your community focusing on our scriptural call to justice;
  • In-service for your volunteers or teachers on reaching today's youth and families with the vibrant, living, message of Jesus Christ;
  • Evening parent seminars based upon two of Jerry's recent books: "Significant Conversations: Helping Young People Live Meaningful Lives," and "The Deepest Longing of Young People; Loving Without Conditions."
  • Local networking with other area groups (secular or faith-based) regarding prevention and intervention strategies for high-risk and incarcerated youth;
  • Humorous and thought-provoking school assemblies (secular or religious, elementary through high school).

ONEFamily Outreach is primarily supported by your donations and by trainings, workshops, retreats and concerts.


Download More Studies | Download Music | Books and Products | Book Jerry


The Resurrection of the Righteous

Luke 14:1-14

Proper 17c

Luke 14:1, 7-14

[Lk 14:1] 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.


[7] 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, [8] “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not  take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, [9] and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you  proceed to occupy the last place. [10] “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. [11] “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”


[12] And He also 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, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. [13] “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, [14] 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.”

Luke 14:1-7

[Lk 14:1] 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.

The house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees

Many translations will say that Jesus happened to be in the house of a leader of the Pharisees, but there was nothing happenstance about this meeting.


Luke himself is showing a definite progression of our Lord. Jesus had a determined march that included encounters with religious leaders for a singular purpose; to highlight the difference between their religion of ritual and his acts of mercy.  So, this event was no chance encounter by either Jesus or the Leader of Pharisees.  Neither was the presence of the man with dropsy happenstance.  The religious leaders set up this incident with Jesus and “were watching Him closely.”  The word closely [GSN3906 paratereo] means scrupulously.  Jesus told his disciples that they were to be like “lambs among wolves [Lk 10:3].”  Here he modeled that behavior, Jesus was invited to dinner where was to be the main course.


The man with dropsy was a ploy, a tool of manipulation the religious leaders were using against Jesus.  This is just one of many incidents where the religious leaders used a vulnerable man or woman to entrap Jesus.  Of course the Lord knew their intent and he could have played it safe.  The man with the crippled hand, the woman bent over double for 18 years, this man with dropsy; they could all have returned the next day; the day after the Sabbath.  Would that be too long to wait for people who had already waited years?  For our compassionate Lord, one day of suffering – let alone one more – was too much


One more day of disease was intolerable to Jesus. 


Shouldn’t I feel that immediacy about reaching the lives of the vulnerable around me?  Jesus couldn’t wait one more day even though that would have been the safest solution. It would have been an understandable compromise, a mere inconvenience… to everyone but the diseased and their Lord.


What does that tell me about the immediacy of faith?

  1. Do I exemplify such uncompromising immediacy for the needs of the vulnerable?
  2. Is compassion unquestionably more important to me than religion; rites, rituals and theological debates about God?
  3. Do I accept the command to act like a lamb to the least of these even when it leaves me open to an attack by wolves?
  4. Do I have a faith that is measured in “the liberated” and “the restored” or am a I “scrupulous observer” like the Pharisees?  Do I spend more time criticizing the imperfections of others or am I perfectly focused on the compassion of Christ; a compassion that sees people into wholeness even when they are terribly broken?

But they kept silent...

I wonder if there is a greater condemnation in the bible.  When asked, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” these men kept silent.


To stand silent when the power to heal is within reach; that is sin.  They knew Jesus could heal, that wasn’t the question.  The question was whether he would heal on the Sabbath!  They say silent when all they had to do was say, “Please, heal the poor man!” 


In like manner, our communities have the ability to empty our jails of crime, our shelters of the abused, our rest homes of the lonely and our streets of hopelessness.  Our world could beat hunger, fight AIDS, educate its masses and so much more; but we lack the commitment.  Perhaps, we should say; we lack the committed!  Too many are silent, too many are critics. We need to pray for laborers in the harvest. We need to pick up a scythe.


Lord, do not let silence be my sin.  Let me be a voice for the silent and an advocate of the disenfranchised.

“Which one of you will have a son or an ox...?”

Exemptions and exceptions; the legal system and the tax system are filled with them. Loopholes usually steeped in favor of those who can make or afford to influence the law.  It wasn’t any different in our Lord’s era, it was just exacerbated by the fact that the Jewish religious system also oversaw the legal and tax systems. The system itself had become manipulative.


Here is an instance where the compassion of Jesus simply leapfrogged legalism.  He personalizes the issue with the “scrupulous observers.”  He asks, “If the victim were your son would the rules change?  If it meant losing your ox, would you find the exception? 


These guys know the answer they just won’t say it.  Laws would change, exceptions would be found.  They would do what they had to do to make an exception for their own self-interests.  They would also do what was necessary to change things for a wealthy patron.  But for the man with dropsy, for the disconnected, the vulnerable, the poor; the law was the law. How often have we heard it said, “If I make an exception for you then I would have to make an exception for everyone.”


The greatness of a society can be measured by its treatment of the least of these.  Jesus is asking these lawmakers to consider two simple issues:

  1. Would you find a loophole to this law if it would benefit you personally? If strict adherence meant injury to your child or damage to your property would you change it then?
  2. Place yourself in the lives of the least of these. How would you want the system to change if you were on the outside looking in?

Jesus isn’t even asking for a change in the Sabbath; he is bringing to fore the heart of the law.

Matthew 12:6-8

[Mt 12:6] “But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. [7] “But if you had known what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. [8] “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”  (NAS)


The singular reason for the very existence of the law was to focus on God and to protect God’s people.  Yet, God’s law had been warped to the point where the religious leaders did not even recognize God’s divine son. Then, they used their heritage and knowledge to cushion their own positions and exploit the poor.


As Jesus ventures ever nearer to Jerusalem, Luke shows us how our Lord turned this system inside-out and upside-down.  Jesus still wants to do this in our lives-with our systems.  In fact, it would be more appropriate to say that Jesus wants us to do this with our lives and in our systems.  Do we test our communities with the same questions that our Lord asked these men?  “What if it were my son?”   “What if it were my property?”


Am I asking this of the system around me?  “What if it were your son?”   “What if it were your property?”


Whatever I do; God forbid that I should be found silent like the leaders in this story.

Luke 14:7-11

[7] 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, [8] “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, [9] and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. [10] “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. [11] “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Do not take the place of honor...

Jesus uses many illustrations that include wedding feasts.  Such feasts were rare breaks in the monotonous lives of the common people of Jesus’ time.  Wedding feasts lasted for days and some would travel additional days to attend them.  They were grand affairs attended by the entire village regardless of age or class.


There were many traditions surrounding the wedding and seating was one of the more important issues (similar to seating people at contemporary weddings or funerals).  Yet, unlike all other religious events in the Jewish life of Christ’s time, family ties took precedence over title or wealth.  In circumstances such as this, an impoverished grandfather might very well outrank a Jewish priest.


This is the premise for Christ’s heaven – not ritual or worship – but a wedding banquet where guests are honored by their closeness to the family. As with Lazarus and the Rich Man, our portfolio or position will be meaningless then. Christ will ask, “Did you love my family?”


In another parable about wedding feasts, Jesus was even more direct about our proper place at the feast.  In that story [Matt 22:1-14], we are called to be the debt-servants [GSN1401 doulos] of the feast, not even invited guests!  Our role was not to scramble for seats but to run to the crossroads and invite more guests:

Matthew 22:8-10

[Mt 22:8] “Then he *said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. [9] ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ [10] “Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.”


So what is our proper place?  It is not the place of honor, not even the last seat by the bathroom door. Our place is servant, rushing about the roads insuring that not one seat at the table is found unoccupied!
Paul purposely chose the title “debt-slave” in reference to Christ and his budding church: “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more [1Co 9:19].”


A servant actually had rites under Roman law. But a debt-slave owed a debt he could not pay. Until he could pay it, everything was taken from him or her. The debt-slave labored by day to pay his debt and eked out a living by night trying to find scraps to eat (see the story of the Prodigal Son [Luke 15:11-32]). Do I think that my title, my seat, at the banquet be any greater than Paul’s? Paul struggled to rid himself of titles throughout his Christian life. From Pharisee, to Apostle, to Servant, to Debt-Slave, and finally to “a Prisoner for the Lord.” Am I laboring towards the same progression? Ridding myself of titles and pretenses so that I can be one with the family of God?


Lord, help me remember the progression of Paul in a world that idolizes people for purposes unrelated to your holiness.  Help me remember you will not be seating guests by stature – but by compassion; “Who does my family consider the most beloved?”


Help me remember, Lord, that if I am to be exalted, it will be because of my love and service to your family, not by any standard this world exalts.


“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted [Mt 23:12].”

Luke 14:12-14

[12] And He also 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, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. [13] “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, [14] 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.”

“When you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind...”

Here is a premise that is central to Christ but often overlooked by Christians; the way into the “resurrection of the righteous” is through giving to those who cannot give in return.


We tend to think that if we 1) call Jesus our Lord, 2) go to church, 3) pray, and 4) study the word, then we are a shoe-in for heaven.  Not so, according to this reading:

Luke 14:13-14

[13] “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, [14] 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.”


The way to the resurrection of the righteous and that to give to those who cannot give in return. Yet this principle brings joy long before we arrive in heaven. I see this principle borne out in recovery ministries; it liberates the self-focused, the incarcerated and breaks the bonds of apathy and cynicism – two demons that are so prevalent in our cultures. 


I have seen men and women released from jails that pray, go to church, and carry their bibles everywhere they go. Our prisons are not devoid of bible scholars. Upon release, the desire to change is on their lips; but the long-term belief that they can change is absent from their hearts.


There is only one thing that changes self-undermining beliefs on that deep of a core. We need to change down deep where the negative messages of a lifetime of neglect or abuse have taken root.  On that level, a person changes beliefs about themselves – not because they changed their minds -- but because they changed their behaviors.  As adults, the only way to learn we are loved is we love. So many people are still waiting on words of affirmation they will never hear spoken by a fragile or broken parent. Instead of waiting in hopeless expectation, we need to practice loving until it becomes habitual in our lives.


In our outreaches we restore lives by creating opportunities where those around us can “catch themselves loving.”  The people we work with are frequently at the crossroads of the hopeless, forgotten, and defenseless. What a better place to practice being a “stream in the desert,” or a “lamp in the darkness.”  This is what restores dignity and recovers lives.


The “resurrection of the righteous” will include those who do the right things; and that – according to Christ – occurs when we love those who cannot love us back.


Jesus looked at the “table” on that Sabbath day some 2,000 years ago.  He saw greed, neglect, and the abuse of the poor.  He saw people pushing and shoving for “the place of honor” and others being denigrated to the ‘least places.”  Our Lord saw all of this as the state of man and confronted the leaders around him with a message similar to, “This is a taste of hell and you are the headwaiters.”


But to the forgotten man with dropsy – whose joints were swollen immeasurably with constant pain – it marked a day of new life.  It was a day of new life because one man (our Lord) saw him as more than a legal “fine point” and a hopeless cripple.  Jesus put the law in its place on that day; he demoted the system and elevated its victims. 

Through this reading, we can clearly see through the path of religious pride and legal condemnation and into the compassionate way of the resurrection of the righteous.

Which path will I choose?

Copyright Notice

Copyright © 2005 Jerry Goebel. All Rights Reserved.  This study may be freely distributed, as long as it bears the following attribution: Source: Jerry Goebel: 2007 © http://onefamilyoutreach.com.

Scripture Quotations noted from NASB are from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD VERSION of the bible. Copyright © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

The New Testament Greek Lexicon based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary plus others; this is keyed to the large Kittel and the “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.” These files are public domain.

The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon is Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon; this is keyed to the “Theological Word Book of the Old Testament.” These files are considered public domain.

NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries. Copyright © 1981, 1998 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. (www.Lockman.org)

Sign up for Weekly Study: