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"Give this man place" (Lk 14.7-11)

R Dawes, Pamber Heath

The Picture

The Lord had been invited to the house of a chief Pharisee and He noted how some of the guests chose out for themselves "the chief rooms (places)". It was a shameful scene as they scrambled for place, position, and prominence to impress and improve their reputation before the company. Such behaviour is selfish, inconsiderate, and haughty. They wanted to be seen and heard, to domineer and dominate. There are many like this in the world, and alas some among believers too; we need to guard against such self-seeking pride. The disciples were guilty - "And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest" (Lk 22.24; see also Mt 20.20-21). They lacked the mind of Christ: "Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" (Phil 2.3-4).

The Parable

The Lord then puts forth a parable exhorting them to take the lowest place in case a more honourable guest arrived. They would then be asked to "give this man place" and with shame would have to take the lower position. If, however, you take the lowest place you could be asked to go up higher and that would be for your honour. The Lord thus illustrates the abiding principle (perfectly expressed in Him) that "whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted". We, also, should take the lowest place in the presence of the Highest.

The parable hinges on the expression "Give this man place" (v.9) and in applying it to the Lord Jesus it provides the secret of all true humility. Do we give this man place, in our heart, home and assembly? Let us briefly "consider how great this man" is (Heb 7.4).

The Person

"This man" is the Peerless One, impeccable in deed and word; the dying thief testified that "this man hath done nothing amiss" (Lk 23.41). Pilate’s wife said, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man" (Mt 27.19). The officers who came to arrest Him acknowledged, "Never man spake like this man" (Jn 7.46). "This man" is unique and towers above every other.

He is the Preferred One; three times John the Baptist speaks of Christ as one who "is preferred before me" (Jn 1.15,27,30). Christ had precedence above John because He was his successor and superior. John adds, "for he was before me" (Jn 1.15,30) as John’s predecessor for He is the pre-existent and eternal Son of God. The Saviour said, "I am from above" (Jn 8.23), and John adds, "He that cometh from above, is above all" (Jn 3.31).

He is also the Precious One because "this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Heb 10.12). It was a full and final sacrifice dealing with all our sins, and He forever sits down in the satisfaction of a finished work well-pleasing to the Father. Praise His name, He has redeemed us with precious blood (1 Pet 1.18-19); no wonder that "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious" (1 Pet 2.4,6,7).

Finally this man is the Pre-eminent One: "that in all things (creation and new creation) he might have the pre-eminence" (Col 1.18). The Apostle does not say that Christ is merely important or prominent, but that He is pre-eminent. He must have the first place in everything! Note the occasions He is seen in the midst of the doctors in the temple, of His gathered people in assembly, in crucifixion, in resurrection (three times), among the seven churches, and in the midst of the Throne. "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty" (Zeph 3.17).

Man looms large everywhere in the world, but the Lord has His rightful place in heaven now, and soon He will have His rightful place on earth. Let us, therefore, "Give this man place" and recede into His shadow.

Throughout the universe of bliss,
The centre Thou, and Sun,
Th’ eternal theme of praise is this,
To heaven’s beloved One.

-Joseph Conder


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