Sunday, September 26, 2010

Trinity 17: A Devotional Commentary

Proverbs 25:6-14 Don’t exalt yourself in the presence of the king, or claim a place among great men; for it is better that it be said to you, “Come up here,” than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen. Don’t be hasty in bringing charges to court. What will you do in the end when your neighbor shames you? Debate your case with your neighbor, and don’t betray the confidence of another; lest one who hears it put you to shame, and your bad reputation never depart. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover to an obedient ear. As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to those who send him; for he refreshes the soul of his masters. As clouds and wind without rain, so is he who boasts of gifts deceptively.

Ephesians 4:1-6 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love; being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all.

Luke 14:1-11 It happened, when he went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on a Sabbath to eat bread, that they were watching him. Behold, a certain man who had dropsy was in front of him. Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” But they were silent. He took him, and healed him, and let him go. He answered them, “Which of you, if your son or an ox fell into a well, wouldn’t immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” They couldn’t answer him regarding these things. He spoke a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the best seats, and said to them, “When you are invited by anyone to a marriage feast, don’t sit in the best seat, since perhaps someone more honorable than you might be invited by him, and he who invited both of you would come and tell you, ‘Make room for this person.’ Then you would begin, with shame, to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes, he may tell you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Pharisees were watching Jesus. Pride watches closely to see what others are doing. Sometimes it does so in the name of holiness or purity. It watches to see what others are wearing or how they are acting. It tries to see how "sincere" other people are and catch them in something. Our pridefulness distracts us from our sins and looks for sin in our neighbor. If our pride can find some sin in our neighbor that we don't do or don't think we do or that we think is worse than the sins that we commit then we are filled with a feeling of superiority. We desire to be looked upon as holy and wise.

But Jesus tell us not to do this. If we do this we will be exposed for the fools that we are. Instead we are to take the place of humility and when others seek our advice we to humbly give it to them. Our wisdom comes from knowing how little we really know. Our holiness comes from a recognition of our own utter sinfulness. By a proper examination of ourselves we come to see that we are sinners and worthy of God's temporal and eternal punishment. We see that any righteousness that we have is not our own but is Christ's. We do not fight for the highest seat at the table because we feel humbled to have ever been invited to the table to begin with. To feast at this table--the table of Lord's Supper--the table where Christ gives us His very body and blood--is not where we go to declare our holiness. It is the place we go because we are unholy and desperately need to receive forgiveness for our sins.

Even our humility is not our own, it is only through our union of Christ that we are given the Spirit of humility. Christ's humility is a mystery that no man can possibly understand. The Second person of the Trinity took on a human nature and was born of the Virgin--God was incarnate as an embryo in the womb of a human mother. In His baptism, Jesus took our sins upon Himself, washing the waters of baptism. He continued to carry your sins to the cross and bore the wrath of God for your sins. Jesus suffered humiliation for your sins. God hung dead on a cross for your sins.

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