The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity
September 17, 2023

(Luke 14:1-14 NIV)  "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 dropsy. {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 away. {5} Then he asked them, "If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him 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 man 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 your fellow guests. {11} For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." {12} Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. {13} But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, {14} and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

In verses 7-14 we have a remarkable picture of God’s grace. Men may think that they are deserving of greater honor or praise than they receive. We’d all like to be seated at the “head table” at an event. And before God, man by nature – if he acknowledges God at all – would like to be honored and praised for all the good deeds that he does.

But God gives places of honor to all his children – if not in this world, then in the world to come – in heaven. Before God, even if our lives are filled with fruits of faith, which may qualify as “good works” in the sight of any man who sees them, we must admit “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty." Luke 17:10.

And when we serve “the least of these brothers of mine” Jesus will tell us on judgment day “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40. Here Jesus emphasizes that we are not to do such good deeds, that is, such fruits of our faith, with an eye toward being repaid or rewarded ourselves. 

The temptation is great to pat ourselves on the back and think we have done great deeds. But we must realize, as Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-10: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."    


O Lord, we beseech thee to preserve thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us always by thy help from all things hurtful and lead us to all things profitable for our salvation. This we ask through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen


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