by Pastor Mark Hudson
We begin with Jesus calling out the hypocrites and their rules on the Sabbath. He was eating at the home of a ruler of the Pharisees. A man who had edema which is swollen ankles, feet, or limbs was there at the home of the ruler. Was he there to trap Jesus? Was he planted by the Pharisees? After all this was the Sabbath and the Pharisees wanted to trap him (11:54, “. . . lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.”). The man with dropsy could have come on his own after hearing about Jesus. However, he get there, he is the focus of the story.
Jesus is said to “respond” to the lawyers and Pharisees as if He viewed the presence of the man as contrived. This man is nameless and silent. Jesus talks to the lawyers and Pharisees. Jesus “took him and healed him and sent him away.” The verbs pile up with no recorded communication to or from the man with dropsy. Then Jesus asks the Pharisees to commit, which of course the Pharisees refuse to do. They are too calculating (Luke 20:1-4, when Jesus asked them a question, but they refused to answer – “And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, “Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from.”). They like to entrap others but will not be entrapped themselves.
Jesus’ question is simple and easy to answer but some leaders do not concern themselves with truth. Like Pilate they ask, “What is truth” (John 18:38) as if one could discuss this philosophical concept detached absent of any personal commitment. Those leaders certainly do not follow or care about God. God is truth. They are about man’s approval. Thankfully, the man was healed, and the leaders rebuked. They had nothing to say because there was nothing to say.
The next section, v. 7-11, contrasts Jesus’ heart with the Pharisee’s. His illustration point out the pride and arrogance of the Pharisees contrasting the humility and God-centered attitude a follower of Christ should exhibit. How far away someone can be from God who, at the same time, cloaks oneself with God and is always talking about God. What judgment awaits those people. I would not want to be in their shoes in the day of judgment. Nor do I want to think that way in my heart now. Jesus humbles himself and so should his followers.
Verses 12-14, Jesus challenges the normal approach to entertaining. The Lord Jesus presents not just a worldview but an entire lifestyle that has heaven and God first and foremost. This does not mean we cannot have friends or family, but Christ’s way is a not the world’ way with a veneer of God-talk. So many people miss the radical call Christ has on our lives and He means every single part of our lives.
Then in 16-24, the parable of the banquet. This points to the invitation to be part of the Kingdom of God. God breaks into human history with angels, a virgin giving birth, prophecy fulfilled, and miracles galore. If people treat that invitation as just another show that comes to town every year, they will have a rude awakening. Since the Jews who had first chance refuse to enter the Kingdom, Gentiles like us get to hear the offer. Notice that people are making decisions for themselves; choosing to deny God and live for themselves.
Yet in v. 23, God is compelling people to come into the Kingdom. This invitation is not a normal invitation. We can say no or yes to invitations to meetings at work, invitations to an event with friends, or various family functions. The invitation that Christ offers is not a “normal” invitation. This invitation is from the Creator of the universe, the One who brings all things into existence who always existed and always will exist.
In vs. 25-33, our Lord reminds those who say they want to follow Christ that, He demands one’s entire life. This is directed to those who say they want to follow Christ. The teaching earlier in the chapter seems to be directed to the Pharisees. Now Jesus is directing the teaching toward those who are following Him. Notice, the crowds are following Him, and he turned (around?) to tell them, “Not so fast. If you want to follow me, it will cost you everything.” First, He gets to the heart of the matter. The love He expects is so great and so superior to any other lover that even the highest love we have in this life looks like hate compared to their love to Christ.
Then Jesus goes even harder and stronger. He talks freely and easily about death and dying. For Jesus life comes after death. The cross and dying to self (even his own life v. 26 or bear his own cross v. 27) comes first. No resurrected life without dying to self. This is his approach to life and ministry. Christ’s way is the way to power and changed life. Death is the entrance into His life. Christ cautions believers to slowly consider what following Him means. He ends this section by saying, “Therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” This section demands our careful attention. This is so serious, it should make everyone who wants to follow Christ questions if they truly know the Lord.
The chapter ends with a saying about salt losing its saltiness. There is a kind of person who profess Christ but does not possess Christ. To the Kingdom, they have no value. We never want that to be said of us. So these words should warn us out of our lethargy and slumber.
Dear heavenly Father, You make righteous and just demands on us: to make us sincerely humble, to think and do for others who cannot repay us, and to respond in faith to the gospel. But anyone who thinks they want to follow Christ must realize, this calling demands everything. This freedom did not come free to Your Son but your grace is more than we will ever need. Lord, help us to love You to the degree we ought. In Christ’s glorious name. Amen.