Lent 18 (2012)– “It’s a trap!”

Luke 14:1 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched…

Insert Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi shouting, “It’s a trap!” 

But Jesus’ reaction to the trap was not an evasive maneuver.  He headed straight into their trap, exposing their pious pride by turning the tables. 

Pride is presuming our high position, finding fault with others, judging the One who will someday judge all of us, and thinking we are owed, by our pious actions, the very Blessings of Security given as a gracious gift of God…to those undeserving.

The stage was set for the perfect Pharisaical trap:

Sabbath, check!

Eating, check!

Prominent, check!

Pharisee, check!

Then they carefully watched Jesus as “There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy” (v.2).

Insert Sesame Street… Four of these things belong together… “One of these things is not like the others.” 

Why would a man suffering from dropsy not belong in this Pharisaical picture of table fellowship?  

Because he had dropsy.  Pharisees were careful with associations and Sabbath cleanliness.  Rather than Jesus agreeing what didn’t belong, He pointed out why the other four things were misunderstood.  The proud had gathered to trap and to judge Him.  He served them a three course meal of crow. 

The thing they thought didn’t belong…was the one thing…that did.

  • Crow Appetizer (Blessing of Compassion):  “Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?”  But they remained silent.  So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away” (verses 3-4).
  • Crow Main Course (Blessing of Humility):  “When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable:  ‘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… For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted'” (verses 7-8, 11).
  • Crow Dessert (Blessing of Grace) “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (verses 13-14).

God’s Blessings of Security are His gracious gifts of mercy and love to the undeserving.  They are meant to be humbly shared with and extended to others equally undeserving.

Then right on cue (verse 15): “When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, ‘Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.’”

So proud, this man still didn’t get it after three helpings of crow.  Jesus exposes the trap of pious pride by telling a parable in which the one thing they’d assumed didn’t belong was the one thing that did.

  • Blessed are those who understand that Sabbath cleanliness is inward, expressed as compassion toward every person’s need for God’s holy and healing touch on human lives marred by sin.
  • Blessed are those who live humbly, seeing ourselves and others through the lens of God’s priorities.
  • Blessed are those who understand the meaning of grace, knowing the healing we need…we can never repay to God…even with our most pious lifestyle.

Don’t fall into the Piety Trap, trying to earn God’s blessings.  Blessings of Security come by God’s grace alone.  Our personal piety is a humble response because we know we’re undeserving.

For further thought:  Have your actions ever been under the microscope?  What has been your response?
Have you ever been around people with religious pride?  What does valuing correct doctrine at the cost of compassion say about their piety?

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 13, 2012

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