Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Readings: Proverbs 25:6-14 | Ephesians 4:1-6 | Luke 14:1-14

Text: Luke 14:1-14

Theme: We exalt ourselves and our works, so God humbles us, so that He would exalt us through His Son.

Intro: It all takes place in the Pharisee’s house.  In formality, banquets had a protocol of where was proper to recline.  The host reclined in the center, and his guests around him. 

I. Men flaunt religion in their own house but leave God out in the cold night.

A. Is it possible that there is a worship of God without God?  Yes, when our own “devotion” forgets the God it claims. Like Cain who makes his offering to God and then is mad when God doesn’t accept it.

B. The Pharisees were so devoted to their “right” way, but they forgot the heart of God for this poor, sick man. Unfit for the temple meant unworthy of compassion—“am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9)

C. Do we, as post-Reformation Christians use grace to as an excuse to ignore the people who are made in God’s image? There are droves of people in need, but we would rather leave the sick to the hospital, the mentally ill to their own delusions, the poor to handout programs.  Image of seeing the accident on the road and driving by because the police and ambulance could handle everything.

II. God’s Son entered the house—uninvited—and humbled Himself by taking the lowest place.

A. It’s a shameful thing when one’s devotion is shown to be a farce. So much zeal, so much effort. I’ve kept myself on the right path? I haven’t gotten my carpets dirty! Was the swollen man even allowed in the Pharisee’s house, or did Jesus go outside to him?

B. Jesus did for us what none of us were willing to do.  He took the lowest place. He bore the humiliation:

Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)

He even the taunts of the proud

“39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.” (Matt. 27:39-44)

C. By taking that humble place, He bore the fall that our pride deserves.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18)  How great the fall into destruction would be, if it were not for Jesus, our Savior!

III. Our houses are full of hypocrisy, but through His humiliation, God has welcomed us into His own house.

A. The truth is that our “house” is full of hypocrisy toward God and lies we tell ourselves.  Our house is “full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:27)

B. But by humbling us, showing us our sin, God actually exalts us.11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

C. He snatches us from the “outer darkness” through His Son, and welcomes us into His own house forever. 7But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.” (Psalm 5:7)

The setting of His house is quite different: “Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” (Luke 22:26-27) Now come, as your gracious Host continues to exalt the humble by feeding them His own Body and Blood.

God’s Peace to You. Amen.

Beauty Runs Faith Deep (Luke 14:1-14)

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost + August 28, 2016
Text: Luke 14:1-14
As you stand in the checkout line, what sort of people look back at you from magazine covers?  Pretty people having fun.  We’re drawn to youth, health, and say that these are what makes someone beautiful.
In the Gospel reading today, we see that spill over into the Church:
One Sabbath, when he 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.
Picture this: Jesus is having dinner with the religious elite.  The ones who are invited to this meal are those who, by all appearances, have everything going for them.  They know the Scriptures inside and out, they keep the Law flawlessly, and—just to put another feather in their hat—they’ve invited this popular teacher to show how welcoming they are.  They are adorned with much beauty in the eyes of man.
But in contrast to all this, there’s a man with dropsy, or as we know it today, edema.  Outwardly, he’s not a pretty sight, with one or more parts of his body grossly enlarged with fluid retention.  He’s grotesque, and he’s standing against this backdrop of men who, whether they’re young or old, have the appearance of wellness.
Then Jesus helps us to see wellness and sickness in a spiritual light when He asks, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?”  Why would Jesus connect the Sabbath with healing?  Wasn’t it just about not doing work and gathering at the Temple?  From the Small Catechism, don’t we learn that the Sabbath is about “not despising preaching and God’s Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it”?  What does that have to do with healing?
You see, for God, bodily health isn’t just a matter of hereditary traits and healthy choices.  Sickness and death entered the world because of sin.  Every illness, disease, and deformity remind us that we are fallen creatures living in a world that is corrupt.  When we witness illness in ourselves or others, our conscience is stirred up to remember what St. Paul said in Romans 5, “death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).
Outwardly, we might be spared the visible result of our sin.  We might have good health on the outside and look good to others.  We might have poor health and look varying degrees of bad.  No matter which it is, every one of us needs the healing Jesus gives, and that’s a healing that goes greater than skin deep.
That’s when the question is turned to each of us, what are we gathered here for?
If we’re concerned with outward appearance—of looking “healthy”—then we can show others that we’re good church-going folk.  Shame on those others who slept in this morning or went to the coast.  At least we can maintain our spiritual “physique” by doing what God wants.
On the other hand, if we feel the disease of sin, and feel its symptoms day to day—regardless of how we look on the outside—then we are in the right place to find healing.  The Sabbath is nothing but a place for healing those wounded and sick with sin.
Our Lord goes on to describe our health in God’s sight with a parable set in a different kind of dinner:
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. 10 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.
This is far more than an etiquette lesson from Jesus.  The lowest place is what God’s Law is supposed to do to our hearts—“You shall have no other gods”; “You shall not misuse the Name of the Lord your God”; “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”  These aren’t a matter of outward action, but a condition of our heart and the Law calls it out and puts us in our place.
But One steps into the wedding hall who is worthy.  He took the sinner’s seat, “He took our illness and bore our diseases” (Matt. 8:17).  He became grotesque inside and out before God and man.  Stripped and humiliated, bleeding and dying, He hung on the cross and rose on the Third Day.
Now, on His account, the Master says to us, “Friend, move up higher.”  Take the seat of a son, not of an enemy.   This isn’t because you’ve earned it, because you have it together.  It’s a gift.  It’s healing of the soul, delivered through the Word and confirmed with the Sacraments.
Then, this wedding feast doesn’t look like a show of outward beauty—the way we expect to see in the world.  This wedding feast is filled with the “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind”: people like us who are sick with our sins, but who have been called forth by the mercy of God in Christ.
This is the wedding feast we are invited to at every Lord’s Supper.   To our poor and feeble spirits, Christ our Savior and Physician says, “Take eat; this is My Body, given for you.  Take eat; this is My Blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.”  Rise and be healed of your diseases.  Your sins are forgiven, and you have been freed from death.  In Jesus Christ, you are beautiful and perfect in God’s sight.  Amen.