On a Sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?” But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him. Then he said to them, “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” But they were unable to answer his question. (Luke 14: 1-6)
There is so much to learn from today’s Gospel passage.
The scribes and Pharisees were watching Jesus like a hawk, hoping to get something on him that will enhance their case against him. Jesus, on the other hand, is focusing in on the radical disconnect between the desires of God and the practice of their religion.
So, Jesus addresses their “sin” with a positive response that shows classically the true characteristics of the Christian faith – healing, humility and hospitality. The contrast between Jesus and the pharisees is vivid. Jesus brings hope and healing while his detractors bring rules and regulations to those who are seeking the presence of God in their lives.
Of the three virtues, humility is probably the most difficult for most followers of Christ.
Humility is one of the hallmarks of a person of authentic faith and a central principle in the kingdom of God. The apostle James spells out how it is that humility is the way of advancement with God. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” [4:10]. True humility is seeing yourself as God sees you. Humility is not having a poor self-image and thinking you are a doormat. It’s having an honest evaluation of who you are–as the Bible describes you. On one hand we are sinners –yet we are children of God. We are flawed but we are His children. He is there to greet us, to heal us and to always love us. Humility is found in the tension and the balance between those two realities.
Humility is not a medal we wear on a jacket. The only way to reveal your humility is if you treat others more highly than yourself. This concept is totally opposite of the way the world thinks. The world says if you want to be successful and be somebody you’ve got to push, fight and work your way to the top. But Jesus says just the opposite. He says if you try to promote yourself, you’ll end up humbled. James 4:10 says “Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.”
Jesus humbled Himself to step down from the throne of heaven to become one of us–a human being. Yet, the night before Jesus was crucified, all of the disciples were too full of pride to perform the slave’s job of washing feet. Jesus humbled Himself and went to the disciples and washed their feet. He humbled Himself again and became obedient unto death–He died the death of a common criminal. What did God the Father do? Scripture says, “God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name that is above every name.” That’s still the way it works. The way down is up and the way up is down. That’s true for each of us. Without Jesus we are nothing, but in Christ, we can do all things. That’s humility.
Finally, true humility is refined through adversity. I think sometimes when God sees we are getting a little proud, He allows some humbling experience to come our way. That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled.” Paul knew that. He wrote, “To keep me from becoming conceited, there was given me thorn in my flesh…” (2 Corinthians 12:7).
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, may I always honor you, both in my work and in my rest, and in the way I treat my neighbor. Fill me with your love and keep me free from a critical and intolerant spirit that I may always seek to please you and to bring good to my neighbor as well.
Humility means far more than just welcoming others appropriately as good manners. It is to remind us that God has given us all good things for no good reason. It is to remind us that God invites us to do the same for others. It is an invitation to take our faith seriously enough to live and act differently. Because our faith is important only to the degree that it helps us navigate the daily decisions and situations that attend our lives.