Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity 23 September 2018 A.D.

Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity              23 September 2018 A.D.

Epistle.  Ephesians 4:1-6                                                          Gospel. Luke 14:1-11

                                                  Lord, we pray thee that thy grace
                                                  may always prevent and follow us,
                                                  and make us continually to be given
                                                  to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord.     
                                                                                                                  Amen

  In today’s Gospel reading we find two very distinct lessons. 
     1.The first lesson deals with the pervasive nature of stubborn sin.  The most esteemed members of Jewish society, the Pharisee, are gathered at the home of one of the more important Pharisee of the area. Jesus has been invited to eat a Sabbath meal with this very important man and his associates.  All eyes are upon Jesus.  Not in admiration, but like spies or those who are looking to find a way to trip Jesus up on some point of the law.  And soon the opportunity comes for them to try to catch Jesus breaking the law. 
 A sick man with dropsy is presented to Christ for healing. Dropsy could be described as a form of cardio/pulmonary problem which caused great swelling in the limbs and abdomen of the person.  The condition was ascribed to bad habits or sinful behavior. Ironic when we see what the lawyers and Pharisee do after Jesus heals this man.   They say nothing.  Jesus gently points out that they would help a person or a draft animal out of a ditch.   Again no one says a word.    Not a thing is learned by those eating with Jesus.  They are not moved by the evidence of God’s power.   Even after warning about judgment and its consequences, God graciously still gives evidence of his presence.  His grace still reveals itself, but closed eyes can never see the evidence of God’s power.   The division between Jesus and what we can call religiosity remains, and so does the question of which way we will choose if we want to know God.  
     These men, by their stubborn behavior, have placed themselves in grave danger.  They refuse to see that by not budging on what is right behavior, Jesus healing on the Sabbath, they cling to the law with no regard to grace, to compassion, to helping their fellow human.  In their desire to be religious they completely fail when it comes to their understanding of God and his great gift, which of course will eventually be the Son crucified in their stead, taking their sins upon his sinless body and giving them the gift of eternal life.

  2. The second lesson again uses the pride and social status of the Pharisee as a stumbling block and eventual destruction of their spiritual health.
    As Jesus’ disciples we should be marked with humility.  Both in how we operate socially and in our work a day lives.  Humility means ignoring rank or class.  Friends can be made anywhere.  This lesson is a hard one, but Jesus’ parable (v.7) shows that he regards this attitude as fundamental to discipleship.  As Jesus teaches this issue of discipleship he is in reality rebuking many at the dinner table.  
    Luke notes how the guests picked the places of honor.  Those closest to the host, either on the right or left of him, were considered guests of honor.   Now for some humility.   Jesus notes that there is a danger in pursuing seats of honor.  He goes on to tell a story of a wedding where some one quickly grabs the high seat of honor.  But then a person more prestigious enters the room and the host asks the one holding the seat of honor to move. The replaced person must go to the end of the table or the lowest place on the table, totally humiliated.  That person takes the least important seat in the banquet hall, each step towards that seat must have hurt.
      Instead of taking the most honored position, Jesus counsels us to take the least important place of honor.  Then the host will tell the humble one to move up to a higher seat, honoring him before everyone. “for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he how humbles himself will be exalted.”
    Let us go into a little more detail on this concept Jesus is teaching the Pharisee and for that matter his disciples (including us)
 “ Jesus' point is not that we should connive to receive greater honor. Rather, he is saying that honor is not to be seized; it is awarded. Jesus is not against giving honor to one who deserves it, but he is against the use of power and prestige for self-aggrandizement. God honors the humble, and the highway of humility leads to the gate of heaven. Those who are truly humble persons recognize their desperate need for God, not any right to blessing.
Jesus expands the picture of humility by exhorting his audience to invite to their dinner table the needy and those who cannot repay such kindness. Hospitality should be open to all. So whether at the early meal (ariston) or the main evening meal (deipnon), hospitality should be shown not to the rich and famous nor to family members, but to those who cannot repay the favor. In ancient culture, the one who hosted a festive meal would be placed on the invitation list for future meals at the guests' homes. Jesus argues that such "payback" hospitality has no merit. The best hospitality is given, not merely exchanged in a kind of unspoken social contract. If God reaches out to all, then those who seek to honor him should reach out also. So the poor, crippled, the lame, the blind should be invited. (This list looks much like the list of Luke 7:22, with a few differences; it is repeated in Luke 14:21.) The poor and the powerless should be welcome. For such hospitality and humility, God promises blessing at the resurrection of the dead. Jesus allows no class mentality.”                               {Intervarsity Press New Testament Commentary Series}
 

    This brings us back to the collect for today, let us reflect on what it says:

    Lord, we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord.        Amen

     Let us always strive to do the right thing when it comes to praising the Lord, reading and inwardly digesting his Word, applying the lessons of the Scripture to our daily lives and most especially doing all of this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Let us pray:
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, in whom we live and move and have our being; We, thy needy creatures, render thee our humble praises, for thy preservation of us from the beginning of our lives to this day, and especially for having delivered us from the dangers of the past night. To thy watchful providence we owe it, no disturbance hath come nigh us or our dwelling, but that we are brought in safety to the beginning of this day.) For these thy mercies we bless and magnify thy glorious Name; humbly beseeching thee to accept this our morning sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; for his sake who lay down in the grave, and rose again for us, the Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.AND, since it is of thy mercy, O gracious Father, that another day is added to our lives; We here dedicate both our souls and our bodies to thee and thy service, in a sober, righteous, and godly life: in which resolution, do thou, O merciful God, confirm and strengthen us; that, as we grow in age, we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications unto thee; and dost promise that when two or three are gathered together in thy Name thou wilt grant their requests; Fulfil now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants, as may be most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth. and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen. 2 Cor. xiii. 14. 
THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.
 

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