The Gospel of Luke

Jesus scores a hat trick

This devotional is written by Jenny Peters. Jenny is on the senior leadership team of St Mary's and is married to John (nepotism rules). Currently in lockdown with 4 adults and a puppy.

Luke 14:1-14

Jesus at a Pharisee's House

14 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.

5 Then he asked them, "If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?" 6 And they had nothing to say.

7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this person your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

12 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."


Reflection

So things are now heating up between Jesus and the Pharisees and they are actively trying to trip him up. The interesting thing is Jesus doesn't avoid the Pharisees, he accepts the invitation despite knowing what's going on.

The banana skin comes in verse 2. There is a man suffering from dropsy, a visible and obvious disease. The Pharisees have devised a cunning plan. If Jesus heals him he's breaking the law in front of them - gotcha! Jesus sees right through the scheme and addresses it directly. He asks them if it's lawful to heal on the Sabbath. This puts the problem right back at them. If they say 'yes' then he may well heal this person in front of everyone watching and gain even more followers, if they say no in front of someone who is clearly and obviously suffering they will lose even more popularity to Jesus. So they remain silent (14:3). One: nil to Jesus. Then he goes on to show how inconsistent their general approach is (14:5-6). Two: nil to Jesus. All set up nicely for the hat trick. They've all been jostling for position and he points out that 'everyone exalts himself will be humbled and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.' (14:11). He even challenges the fact that the host has invited people who might invite him back and challenges them to invite the poor, the lame, the blind and the crippled. Three: nil, Jesus gets the match ball.

So how is any of this relevant to us given that we're not Pharisees? It's a reminder that Christianity was never and will never be about how well behaved we can be. We are all hypocrites (and if this current crisis doesn't show us that, nothing will). It was always and will always be how we respond to Jesus. So at the start of this day, let's give ourselves to him with all our victories and failures, strengths and weaknesses and ask him to fill us and help us be salt and light to those around us.

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