Luke’s gospel contains five of the seven times that Jesus is recorded as healing on the Sabbath. He really did want to make an important point, didn’t he! (Which was what?)
Most illustrations in today’s reading, however, come from eating and feasting. What do we learn?
- (v11) Those who humble themselves (i.e. being ‘real’ before God) will be raised up by him
- (v12) Hospitality is far more than just a social event, but an opportunity to show unconditional love
- (v14) You can either get your reward now (like for like) or a super-abundant one at the time of the resurrection of the righteous. We can choose. Deferred gratification is far superior!
- (vv15-24) The demands of Christ appear unreasonable sometimes to the average person – and most of those excuses seemed quite reasonable – but if we want to be disciples, there is a higher cost to pay for the privilege of serving and knowing Him.
- (vv25-27) You don’t literally have to hate your closest relatives and friends, but your love for Jesus should make all other loves seem faint by comparison. Jesus was using hyperbole here, which was a usual rabbinical teaching technique. The key phrase to understanding the passage is: “…yes, even their own life…” – which is also what ‘carrying your cross daily really means. All of the above simply means ‘putting God first’.
- (vv28-33) These verses say the same thing and also invite us to weigh up the cost of discipleship before we even commit ourselves to it. Discipleship is not a valuable addition to our otherwise productive and happy lives. If you pardon the analogy, it is like a good version of a ‘cancer’ which cannot coexist with competing lifestyles, but must inexorably take over the entire person, killing off the old life in the process; but, unlike cancer, it is of immense ultimate benefit, both to us and to God’s Kingdom. But we have to choose in advance – and daily – whether we are prepared to comply with the demands of discipleship in all its aspects – it really has to be all or nothing.
- In Roman times they used rock salt as salt, which was impure and eventually ran out of its saltiness, making it useless for preserving anything. The remaining rock was, however, useful for making pavements and, hence, in the Matthew 5:13 version, it explains just that. Our saltiness comes from our relationship to Jesus and our willingness to allow that relationship to permeate into the rest of our lives and relationships, purifying wherever it goes.