Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our text for today is another story of a trap set for Jesus by the Pharisees. Our Lord was invited to a banquet on the Sabbath. This custom was common among the Jews. The banquet was lunch after worship in the synagogues or the Temple of Jerusalem. It was a great party, with a lot of food, although everything had to be prepared the day before. Because the law of Moses commanded that no one should work on the Sabbath.
The host also invited a man with a problem of water retention in his body. It is implied that this condition was very disgusting. The only reason for inviting this man was to provoke Jesus to rash action. His plan went like this: When Jesus entered the house, he would find that man with dropsy as if by chance, and yet, according to the most cunning planning, he would heal him. Then, the Pharisees could gossip about the one who does not respect the law of Moses on the Sabbath.
Jesus knew their thoughts and responded to them as if they had spoken aloud. His question was the same as he had asked on other occasions, whether it was correct to heal on the Sabbath or not. Works of mercy were indeed permitted on the Sabbath, even according to the strictest Mosaic law. Deuteronomy 22: 4 says thus: You will not see your brother's donkey, or his ox, fallen on the road, and hide from them; without fail you will help him to lift them. Then Jesus answered them, saying: "Which of you, if his donkey or his ox falls into a well, will not draw it out immediately on the Sabbath?"
In this way, Jesus exposed the inconsistency and cruelty of his enemies in his treatment of the man with dropsy. And so Jesus fulfilled the purpose of the law: laying his hand on the sick man, healed him and sent him away.
But, He was not finished with them. Jesus related a parable, telling them: "When you are invited by someone to a wedding, you do not sit in the first place, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and the one who invited you and him, come and visit you. say: Give place to this one, and then you begin with shame to take the last place. But when you are invited, go, and sit in the last place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you: Friend, go up higher; then you will have glory before those who sit at table together. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. "
Jesus had noticed on this occasion that all the guests tried to occupy the couches of honor, the first pillows, at the head of the table. The Lord advises the opposite method, to choose the lowest place, because then it could well happen that the humble guest would be invited in the presence of the assembled guests to move farther to the head of the table, thus receiving honor before all reclining with him. on the tables. It was not a question of prudence and good form, but rather a reprimand of the presumption and pride of the guests.
Furthermore, it illustrates a rule that finds its application in the kingdom of God: He who exalts himself, places himself above his neighbor, boasts of his own worth and dignity before God, will be humbled, will be excluded from the kingdom of God. God. But the one who humbles himself before God and, consequently, places himself also below his neighbor as a servant willing to attend to their needs as the occasion arises, will be exalted, will receive honor in the kingdom of God.
This rule applies to the kingdom of grace. Remember that the kingdoms of God are three: the kingdom of power, the kingdom of grace, and the kingdom of glory. The kingdom of power is the way God rules the good created world, but distorted by the bad. In creation there is diversity, but there is no equality. There are competitions, prizes, winners and losers. We work and fight in this world, but in all our trials, we trust God's justice.
In the realm of grace, the order of redemption, there is equality, but no justice. No one receives his just reward, because all have sinned and failed to fulfill God's will perfectly. Only one, Jesus Christ. By the blood of Christ, we do not receive what we deserve, that is, the wrath and eternal punishment of God. Let us receive something much better, the promise of eternal life. The proclamation of the gospel is for all nations, for children, the elderly, men, women, people of all ranks, because in that they are all equal. All deserve condemnation, all receive adoption as children of God. The economy of the kingdom of grace is the love of God without limits, because Jesus Christ has paid the debts of all.
In the beginning God's creation was perfect, and on the last day it will be made perfect again. The prizes of this world will not last forever, nor will its competitions, fights and tests. The final victory belongs to Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the justice of God on the cross, gives us grace at our baptism and comes soon to show power, justice and mercy in their total harmony, forever. In this hope, we have the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.
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