Dinner Conversations and Controversies
September 10 - Nº 253 Luke 11:37-54; John 10:22-39; Luke 14:1-24
Jesus was invited into a Pharisee’s home for a meal. The Pharisee noticed that his guest didn’t go through the usual ceremonial washings that the religious leaders required before eating. Jesus knew what he was thinking, so he said, “You Pharisees are good at making yourselves look clean on the outside, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You focus on looking good in other people’s eyes instead of on doing what God wants you to do—like feeding the poor!” He pointed out many ways they were hypocritical and how they hindered others from knowing God. He told them that their judgment would be severe! Needless to say, the religious leaders at the dinner table were very upset. They were determined to find a way to get rid of Jesus. Later, at the Hanukkah Feast (Feast of Dedication) in Jerusalem, some of the Jews surrounded Jesus as he walked into the Temple courtyard. They asked him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” This was not an innocent inquiry. They wanted to hear Jesus claim that he was equal to God so they could charge him with blasphemy. This was the worst offense any Jew could commit, and it was punishable by stoning the blasphemer to death. Jesus answered, “I have told you, but you refuse to believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name show where I get my power. But you are not part of my flock. My sheep listen to me and follow me, and I give them eternal life. They will never perish, and no one can take them away from me or my Father. I and the Father are one!” The Jewish people immediately picked up stones to throw at him for blasphemy, because he had just claimed to be God. They grabbed him and tried to take him out of the Temple area before they killed him, but he escaped and went to Judea. After things calmed down, Jesus headed back toward Jerusalem. On the Sabbath, he was invited to eat in the home of a prominent Pharisee. Everyone was watching him carefully because they had brought in a man whose legs were painfully swollen. Jesus knew that they were trying to trap him into “working” on the Sabbath. Before they could say anything, he asked them, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” They did not answer, so Jesus healed the man and sent him on his way. Then he asked the teachers of the law, “If your son or your ox fell into a well on the Sabbath, would you not pull him out?” Again, they refused to answer. After looking around at all the wealthy religious leaders, Jesus told them that God would bless them more if they invited poor, hurting people to eat at their tables instead of wealthy people who had plenty of food. One of them pompously replied, “The really blessed man is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus responded by telling a parable of a man who prepared a great banquet. But none of the people he invited showed up. They were all too busy doing things they thought were more important. So, people they considered less desirable were invited to take their places, and they were the ones who ended up being blessed!
Jesus never tried to win a popularity contest. He was willing to challenge people’s perceptions with the Truth about who he was and how God expected them to live—even if it meant he would die! Are you loving and brave enough to share the Truth?