For the fifth and sixth times in this book, Jesus’ conduct on the Sabbath raises concerns with the Pharisees and synagogue rulers. Stories in each chapter today, in fact, focus specifically on their outrage at Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath. Once again, pay attention to events and episodes that are repeated, for indications about the characters’ and author’s perspectives.
The interaction at the beginning of chapter 14 is especially telling, and might form an inflection point for this book. Jesus is dining in the house of a Pharisee – obviously they are not mortal enemies. Luke says they were watching Him carefully. A man was there with dropsy; Jesus takes the initiative – He’s had this argument before – and asks, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. So He heals the man, and He confronts them again about their sense of justice; but “…they could not reply to these things.”
He then told them three parables: one about guests presumptively choosing the place of honor at other people’s parties, and another about hosts inviting those who can’t return the favor. Finally, He told them a parable of the Kingdom – a subject that is never far from His mind – and the high cost of treating the Lord’s invitation frivolously.
Notice the setting of all this: a dinner to which Jesus was invited. Surely He knew they were watching Him closely, though Luke, as usual, doesn’t indicate their precise motivations. Be careful not to read prejudices in from other sources – we don’t know for sure what these particular Pharisees are after. Luke leaves that shrouded, perhaps using their silence to indicate that they really didn’t know what to make of Jesus. Their response to Jesus’ very bold assertions likewise remains hidden. Luke is weaving a story of interactions and relationships that are complex, multi-layered… and entirely familiar.
Our verse for this week is Psalm 27:1: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Luke 13 and 14. Now let’s read it!
27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?