On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a prominent leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching Him closely. Just then, in from of Him, there was a man who had dropsy. And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?” But they were silent. So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away.
Then He said to them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day? And they could not reply to this. Then He noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, and He told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.
But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
He said also 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, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. (Luke 14:1-14, NRSV)
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Everyday, we live by agendas.
Whether you are a structured, type-A person who lives strictly by a list or the free-flowing spontaneous type, living vicariously in the moment... The reality is that each of us live with agendas.
They are built upon our predetermined expectations of ourselves, our week, our future, or our strengths/weakness. Whether formed internally or externally, they narrow the focus, range, and aperture of our days.
Even the most spontaneous person still lives within a set range of boundaries where they then allow themselves to exercise spontaneity.
I say all of this, because as we grow in Christ, we are called to increasingly widen our focus and reorientate our agendas.
This is the heart that Jesus displays in today’s miracle.
Here, He is in the house of a “prominent leader of the Pharisees” - a place full of lawyers and other religious leaders. If you notice, this dinner party is more like a high-class Sabbath banquet.
And they invite Jesus.
Now, I have to hand it to them for this - for the presence of Jesus is the best place to learn, develope, be pruned, and made fruitful.
Yet as we quickly discover, they invited Jesus in full accordance to their agenda, not His divinity. Though the learning will come, it was not within their focus.
And “just then, in front of Him, there was a man who had dropsy.” In other words - he was let out of closet; allowed into this home; or given the right to step foot in their holy presence... ONLY because it fit with their predetermined plan.
And though their eyes were on Jesus, it was not because of who He was, but because of what they wanted.
Dropsy is a condition where excess fluid is found in the tissue of your body. It would often cause physical swelling and tumor-like growths. These individuals were seen as ugly, unwanted, unneeded, and unclean.
But what I find so disheartening is that this could have been the only time that a Pharisee or lawyer would have approached a sick man. Yet in their hearts, their reasons were selfish; inauthentic, and unloving.
But the door that they opened with this act is one that both crushes and convicts, as well as urges and compels each and everyone of us today.
For after the man is healed in full and sent on his way, Jesus notices and calls out a physical representation of their inner motives.
Each of them chose to quickly take “their” spot at the “places of honor.” In doing so, they revealed their entitlement, despite the act of complete grace they just witnessed.
So Jesus chooses to speak a parable of a “wedding banquet,” as if He is trying to say a huge HINT-HINT.
For all who exalt themselves in this life will be humbled. But for those who approach the Lord in reverence and humility, like this sick man did, they will be exalted.
And then, to the home owner himself - and dare I say, you and I - He says something I humbly break over... (verses 12-14)
When we do things big, they must be for those who are small. When we put our time and energy into something, it should bless and benefit those who cannot repay us.
In other words, when our agendas are marked with “great” things, we have the burden and obligation to use them for the sake of the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind - the unlovely.
Or else, we provide Jesus with a life that is mirrored with these Pharisees. Where we will choose to bring someone “into the presence of Jesus” to fit our agenda, to align ourselves with a “cause,” or to fulfill a task.
Yet in doing so, we invite them to church, invite them to a Bible study, or take them _________ , to see what Jesus “will do.”
When really, what Jesus longs for us to do is invite them into our inner sanctum. Bless them with our resources. Welcome them in deep. Show them our hearts. Show them our lives, our struggles, and our realities.
For it is when we do so, that we bring them to Jesus, not for what He will do, but so they can experience who He is (in and through us).
Today, I challenge you to widen your focus and reorientate your agendas.
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Greg, Declare Glory