bible blog 1047

This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:

Obama defends USA right to kill by drone Obama counter-terrorism speech

Luke 14:1-11

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus at a Pharisee’s House

14 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.2 There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.

5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child[a] or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.

7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Luke shows Jesus having some gentle fun with the social honour system. His hearers would know that only the most presumptuous boor would take the place of honour unless invited to do so; and that the wise man of substance would take a lowly place in the expectation of being publicly promoted. Jesus applies this familiar knowledge to the unspoken subject of his parable, the kingdom of God, in which those who push their precedence will be knocked back while those who have genuine humility will be highly honoured. In social exchanges people can play games to gain credit; but in God’s kingdom only genuine humility is recognised by the management.

Humility is not accounted as a virtue in our society. Rather, anyone who wants to get on should have a healthy sense of self-worth and a readiness to blow his own trumpet. Anyone who insists on being ordinary is seen as a loser and given no thanks for any services he may perform for others. The message of Jesus is utterly opposed to all arrogance, especially religious arrogance, while giving encouragement to people of humility. Leadership in Jesus’ community is given to those who are found amongst the least important.

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