Sunday, September 01, 2019

Luke 14:1-14; Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost; September 1, 2019;

Luke 14:1-14; Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost; September 1, 2019;
Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN;
One Sabbath, when [Jesus] went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” And they could not reply to these things. Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”” (Luke 14:1–14, ESV)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jesus teaches about the great reversal. It is one of the great themes of the gospel of Luke. He is saying that things in the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom he has come to restore, are not like they are in earthly kingdoms.
The first shall be last and the last shall be first.
We see it early in Luke’s Gospel with Mary’s song, the Magnificat.
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” (Luke 1:52–53, ESV)
Here in our text, Jesus is reversing the common table etiquette of the day. It is a scandal. Jesus is telling the scribes and Pharisees to invite to their table those whom they consider to be unclean and unworthy of table fellowship. They look at the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind the opposite way that Jesus sees them. The Pharisees and the scribes invite people to their banquets who can repay the favor.  It was considered a great honor to be invited to a feast. The scribes and Pharisees honored each other with their invitations. Jesus says exactly the opposite. He turns the tables, the table of fellowship, upside down.  “Invite those who cannot repay with another invitation”, says Jesus. His words are such a scandal that the scribes and Pharisees will kill him for it. They wanted nothing to do with the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear [Jesus]. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”” (Luke 15:1–2, ESV)
You see, the scribes and Pharisees had a merit-based system with God. They believed that if they did the right things God would bless them. The ones who are not blessed the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind were, in their opinion, obviously out of favor with God for something they did, some sin. Jesus tears down the whole social structure. It is the Great Reversal, Jesus rejects the scribes and Pharisees, and invites the poor and lowly, the tax collectors and sinners, into his presence, at table with God incarnate. 
At his table our Lord performs the humble active service to his slaves. The biggest reversal of all is that Jesus himself dies for the sins of the whole world. At Jesus’ table, the one who is the greatest is not the one who sits at table, but rather the one who serves. Jesus is the one who girds up his loins and serves. He goes to a bloody death. He is resurrected from the dead, showing that his death as sacrifice is sufficient.
The stone the builders rejected, this has become the head. (Luke 20:17)
Jesus is exalted by his very act of humiliation. He is the greatest in the kingdom serving the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. He serves the sinners like you and me, who deserve nothing but punishment from God and yet receive his gracious forgiveness.
It is perfectly natural for human beings to want fellowship with those who we see is worthy of it. In many churches, there is much more rejoicing over the doctor who joins the church than the tattooed biker. Like the Pharisees and the scribes, the doctor seems to have so much more to give. The doctor seems so much more blessed by God. But in the kingdom of God there is rejoicing over every sinner who turns from sin. The confused homosexual, the struggling alcoholic, the homeless drifter, the housewife who practices her faith despite the objections of her husband, the troubled teenager who acts out because of being ignored or abused at home, even the humble doctor who heals his neighbor. These are the ones that Jesus has come to save. These are the ones who see their sin and know they have nothing to offer God, but their sin.
Our fellowship should be just that, humble service to those who seem to the world to be worthless. Because in Jesus eyes, all people have worth not because of social class but because of their humanity.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23, ESV)
When we see our sin clearly, and the gift of forgiveness that is given to us so freely, we can offer that forgiveness to those who will value it most. Luther said,
God is the God of the humble, the miserable, the afflicted, the oppressed, the desperate, and those who have been brought down to nothing at all. Luther on Galatians 3:19-26.
You know these people. God has placed them in front of you for you to serve in your vocation. Not for monetary gain, but for the love that Christ has shone to you. Serve with an eye to proclaim God’s love in Jesus. Serve for the opportunity to invite them to fellowship with Jesus.
In January, we went through a process of strategic planning. We looked at the world from the point of view of Jesus command.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”” (Acts 1:8, ESV)
We talked about serving the community, the state, the nation, and the world. Following that directive.  We are looking for a way to serve our community specifically. I’m still waiting for a way in which we as the church in this community can do just that. And remember, I’m your pastor, your supporter, and a member of this congregation. So, it is not my ideas alone that will make these things a reality, but yours.
We are blessed by God in this congregation. We come together every week to seek the God who forgives our many sins. And especially our sin of ignoring the ones that God has placed in front of us. Those who will value the fellowship of Christ given through Word, water, and bread and wine.
Our sins are forgiven. Jesus, through his perfect life is substitutionary death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead, he brings that forgiveness to us. He offers it freely to those who see their sin and see no other way for salvation. So, live in that love. Serve as you have been given to serve. And remember that you too are a forgiven sinner. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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