Friday 28 August 2015

Bible Book:

“On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the Sabbath, they were watching him closely. Just then, in front of him, there was a man with dropsy.” (vv. 1-2)

Luke 14:1-11 Friday 28 August 2015

Psalm: Psalm 76


There are four points in this opening sentence which ring alarmbells: Jesus, the young Galilean teacher and drawer of crowds, wasinvited to the house of a Pharisee, one who would not be consideredsympathetic; he was invited to eat a meal, with all the ceremonyand restrictions around eating; it was the Sabbath, with all thatthat entailed; they were watching him closely. This was not arelaxed social occasion.

Luke's Gospel records several meal occasions which are thescenes for conflict between Jesus and the religious authorities (Luke5:29-39; 7:36-50; 11:37-52). The conflict appears to be set up: aman afflicted with dropsy (oedema) was present. This incident isonly recorded by Luke and he starts the sentence with a word whichindicates an element of surprize or significance (Greek: 'idou'):'look!' 'see there!'. Luke used this word on a number of occasionsand alerts the reader to expect the unexpected (eg Luke 5:12,18; 7:12, 37).

Three controvesial issues are presented through this incident.The first is the question of whether or not healing may be effectedon the Sabbath: if a child or an ox, then why not a suffering man?The second is a challenge to the self-important who seek to exaltthemselves and run the risk of humiliation. These themes aretreated elsewhere in the Gospel (Luke13:10-17; 22:24-27).

The third issue addressed is that of who should be at the table:is it those who are in a position to return the compliment orshould it rather be those on the margins of society? The crippled,the blind and the lame were, according to the law, barred from thepriestly company round that particular table (Leviticus 21:17-21); the term 'poor' was usedfor marginalised people in general. Later that evening, Jesus wouldtell a parable explicitly including those who society would exclude(Luke 14:15-24).

To Ponder

  • Reflect on those who are regarded as unacceptable in thecircles in which you move. Who is omitted from your table?
  • How do you respond when those unsympathetic to Christian valuesseem to set you up for a fall? To what extent are you able to avoidbeing defensive?
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