Table of grace – Friday, 30th week in ordinary time – Luke 14:1-6

This text of Luke 14:1-6 is unique to Luke and is the final Lucan controversy to take place regarding the sabbath. Once again Jesus shows himself as the lord of the sabbath (Luke 6: 5) who champions works of compassion on the sabbath.

A prominent Pharisee asked Jesus to eat at his home. A number of things took place at this table, but none of them were very pleasant. It ended up being a sour mealtime conversation and all-in-all, it was a most unpleasant occasion.

Meals often feature in Jesus’ parables and in the key moments of his public life. Jesus is at a meal in Cana, with Martha and Mary, at the meeting with Magdalene and at the last supper to name a few. Essentially, this was one long meal; a dinner party of the elite which Luke recorded in chapter 14:1 and goes all the way to verse 24.  It is a meal at which the Pharisees live out their dinner protocol, values, and pecking order as we see this in the next pericope.

Once again, it appears that the Pharisees had a motive in inviting Jesus. They put Jesus at the centre so they could scrutinise him. Jesus does not seem to be invited for the hospitality of it, but for the hostility of it. We are told that they were watching him but as verse seven will tell us, he was watching them!

In verse two we are told that “there in front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy”. This was such an elite gathering, so how could a man suffering from dropsy simply find his way in such a gathering in front of Jesus? He certainly does not fit into the guest list. He was almost certainly brought in front of Jesus by the Pharisees as an opportunity to trap Jesus yet Jesus saw a hurting man in need of help. It is our misery that calls forth God’s mercy.

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