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LESSON 7 - HOW MUCH WILL YOU PAY? (LUKE 14 & 18; MATT. 21)

Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard.

INTRODUCTION: This week we look at the topic of humility through
Jesus' parables.
                                
I. HOW PRIDE STACKS UP

     A. Write four words on the blackboard: "Adultery," "Smoking,"
     "Pride," "Drinking."

          1. Which of these activities will get you thrown out of
          church office, if not out of church membership?

          2. In all the years I have served on a church board, I
          have never even heard the sin of "pride" mentioned in
          connection with the discipline or even the evaluation of
          a member.  Every discipline I remember dealt with
          adultery.  Every time I hear a report that someone is no
          longer concerned about the church, it is generally,"he's
          smoking," or "she's working on Sabbath."

     B. Our lesson says pride "is the root of all sin." Do you 
     agree?

          1. If so, why?

     C. If pride "is the root of all sin," then why don't we 
     discipline for pride instead of adultery?

     D. How difficult to deal with is the sin of pride? (If you are
     committing adultery your conscience will confront you every
     day.  Smoking is an activity that you wear like a badge.  The
     sinister aspect of pride is that it blocks your ability to
     even discern that you are involved in sin.)

II. DISCERNING SIN

     A. Turn with me to Matthew 21. This is Jesus asking the 
     priests and elders a question in a dialogue about Jesus'
     authority. Read vv. 28-30.

          1. Why did the first son go to work in the vineyard? 
          (Because he had changed his mind.)

          2. Why did the second son NOT go to work in the vineyard? 
          Does it say he changed his mind too? (No.)

          3. What causes a person to change their mind?  What 
          happens when someone changes their mind? (You change your
          mind when you confront another point of view. Something
          causes the change.)

     B. Let's read on: Matthew 21:31-32. Which son represents the
     priests and the elders (21:23) and which the tax collectors
     and prostitutes (21:31)? (The son who changed his mind
     represents the tax collectors and prostitutes.) 

     C. Why do you think the first son initially refused to go? Did
     it have anything to do with pride? (Certainly the boy thought
     his opinion was better than his father's opinion.)

     D. Why didn't the second son go?

          1. If he did not change his mind, does that mean he was
          lying to his father?

          2. Did the second son have good intentions? He just did
          not get around to going? (Whether he was lying or just
          did not get around to going, nothing really changed in
          his life. He continued with his original intentions.)

     E. Notice that v.32 says that even after the priests and 
     elders saw the tax collectors and prostitutes believe John,
     they still did not believe.

          1. Why didn't the priests and elders believe when they
          saw what happened to the tax collectors and prostitutes?
          (They thought they were no example to follow.)

     F. Our lesson is about pride. What does this parable have to
     do with pride? (The second son never confronted himself with
     his father's opinion to the extent that he "changed his mind." 
     That is the problem with pride. We do not "confront" ourselves
     with God's contrary opinion.  We do not allow a confrontation
     because:
     
          1. We feel our opinion is better than God's opinion;
          
          2. We do not allow the confrontation because we are 
          blinded (by pride) into thinking that God's opinion is
          our opinion. (This happened here when then the priests
          refused to accept what had happened to the "low class"
          people); or,

          3. We are so comfortable with our current state that we
          never get around to doing what God requires.)

III. THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX COLLECTOR.

     A. You remember last week we studied parables about how to 
     pray. Notice that this next parable is another in the series
     that answer the disciple's question about how to pray. This
     next parable teaches us both about prayer and pride. Turn with
     me to Luke 18:9-13. Read.

          1. Let's try to make this real. Who would be a Pharisee
          today? (A respected religious leader.)

          2. Who would be a tax collector? (Pick a country whose
          interests are contrary to ours. Pick an irreligious
          American who spies for that country for money, whose
          spying directly costs you money and tell me what you
          think about that person. You now have the attitude
          towards the Jews had towards tax collectors.)

          3. Did the Pharisee tell the truth in his prayer? (Yes.)
          4. Did the tax collector tell the truth in his prayer?
          (Yes.)

          5. Notice that v. 11 says the Pharisee "prayed" about 
          himself. Did both men "pray about themselves?" (Yes.)

               a. So what is the problem? (Read v. 14.)

     B. Don't you believe that you can be confident of your 
     salvation?  Is it the Pharisee's confidence about his
     salvation that is the problem? (No. The key phrase is (v.14)
     "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who
     humbles himself will be exalted."  Salvation comes only
     through the merits of Christ's righteousness. (Romans 4) Until
     we realize that our works will not save us, and therefore we
     need His righteousness as much as the worst sinner, we do not
     "go home justified before God." Pride directly inhibits our
     ability to see our need.)

     C. This story portrays the religious leader as the one who is
     so proud he does not feel the need to come to God for
     justification. Does this parable "fit" our situation in
     America today? (Occasionally. The pride problem today centers
     around those who feel no need for God or religion at all.  The
     proud irreligious people never confront their pride with God's
     word.  At least the proud religious people should be regularly
     confronting themselves with God's word.  The tax collector's
     advantage was that he realized his sin and had come to God for
     help.)

IV. MUSICAL CHAIRS

     A. Turn with me to Luke 14:7-10. Read.

          1. Is this good social wisdom?

          2. Is this primarily a practical lesson on how to live
          when invited out?

          3. Have you ever taken this advice and found that no one
          ever noticed you?
               a. Has anybody ever offered you a better seat or 
               better table at a wedding banquet, or any kind of
               banquet for that matter?

     B. Is this parable just "not applicable" to us today?

     C. Is the "wedding dinner," just a dinner? Or is it a symbol
     for something else?  (Jesus is not "Miss Manners" giving us
     eating etiquette. The "wedding dinner" is a symbol for His
     Second coming. Jesus is talking about entering the kingdom of
     heaven and His advice is as good today as it was then: if you
     "exalt yourself" here, your heavenly host will not be exalting
     you.)

V. NEXT WEEK: "Serving the Master." Parables on Christian service.
Study!