Sermon for Pentecost 12 – 8.28.22

+ 12th Sunday after Pentecost – August 28th, 2022 +

Series C: Proverbs 25:2-10; Hebrews 13:1-17; Luke 14:1-14

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Pride and Humility”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

“There is one vice, writes C.S. Lewis, of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly anyone ever imagines they are guilty.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 121).

 

Can you guess what sin that is? Lewis is referring to the sin of pride. The chief sin. The sin that leads to all other sins.

 

It is pride – and its opposite, humility – that are on full display in our gospel reading in Luke 14 this morning. Pride in the hearts, minds, words, and deeds of the pharisees with whom Jesus was invited to dine. Humility in the heart, mind, words, and deeds of Jesus who comes with mercy to heal a sick man and to save you.

 

Luke 14 begins around the dinner table at the home of one of the rulers of the pharisees. St. Luke tells us why Jesus is invited to dinner with the religious rich and famous. They were watching him carefully, he says. The pharisees were following the old adage of keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

 

Jesus isn’t the only unlikely guest at this dinner party. A man with dropsy – or edema in today’s medical language – also happens to be there. Luke doesn’t tell us this, but it seems likely the pharisees planted him there at this Sabbath day dinner party to entrap Jesus.

 

If Jesus doesn’t heal the man, clearly he isn’t following God’s command to love his neighbor. And if he does heal the man, well then, he doesn’t love God by keeping the commandment to observe the Sabbath day. To quote the famous Admiral Ackbar; “it’s a trap.”

 

Jesus, however, is on to their game. He turns the question back on them. “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” What’s their answer? If the pharisees had smart phones you can imagine them googling their copies of the Talmud and Mishnah with the key words “healing” and “sabbath.” The pharisees lived for this kind of codifying the law. Parsing it out to the smallest list of do’s and don’ts. They prided themselves on their 613 ways to keep the Law. And yet when Jesus asks the question they’re silent. They could not answer.

 

Instead of listening to the words of the Rabbi, Jesus, they busy themselves with scorekeeping all the ways Jesus breaks their manmade rules and traditions. Instead of spending the Sabbath day receiving God’s words and promises, they work to glorify themselves. Instead of living in humility and hospitality towards the sick man in their midst, and Jesus their guest, they look for the place of honor, are self-centered, and prideful.

 

Now, it’s easy to listen to stories like this and think to ourselves, to quote another pharisee, “Thank God am not like those other men.” But the truth is we are like them, aren’t we. There’s a little pharisee within each of us that loves to keep score, compare ourselves with others, glorify ourselves, look out for number one, to live as if God and my neighbor did not matter and as if I mattered most.

 

This is why Jesus goes on to tell a parable. “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. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

Jesus concern here isn’t really about proper table etiquette a wedding reception. If the pharisees look at the kingdom of God through their self-glorifying ways – pride, Jesus sees the kingdom of God through his self-giving ways – humility.

 

And in the kingdom of God humility is always given to you. Not taken or grasped for yourself. you don’t make yourself humble…like when you’re being interviewed for a job, “Oh yes, humility is one of my best traits.” Humility is a passive gift. God gives humility; we receive it. God humbles us so that he may exalt us. This is what Jesus is getting at in that closing verse of the parable. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled…by God, and he who humbles himself will be exalted…by God.”

 

These words are the way life works in the kingdom of God. It is a life lived in mercy. In sacrifice. In humility. And this is the way Jesus lived and died for you.

 

If there’s anyone who deserves the higher seat, the place of honor, and the exaltation, it’s Jesus. And yet for you he took the lower seat. For you he lived and died in humility to save us from our foolish pride.

 

In the words of Paul, though he was in the form of God, he 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.

 

This is the way it is in God’s kingdom. No one owes anyone anything because all has been paid by for by the blood of Jesus. Whatever we owed, Jesus paid by his sacrifice for us. All of our pride and self-centeredness – Jesus died in humility for that too.

 

And in return, Jesus invites you to his banquet table with no preconditions and expects nothing in return. As Luther said on his death bead; we are all beggars. It is Christ himself who took the lowest seat in life and in death to exalt you in his humility, and then to turn you outwards in his humility and love towards others in your life.

 

In Christ – and that’s the key – in Christ and his humility for you, you are humble servants. In Jesus’ humility, you are exalted to a better place, a better seat. A table and a feast of his body and blood given and shed for you.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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