Honour and Violence

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6On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.  Luke 6:6-11

Jesus did not compel all He met to honour Him as Lord of the Sabbath. However, He would not be denied. With or without honour the mission of establishing His kingdom would go on. He did not allow this man with a withered right hand to remain in his corner of shame to be used by those who sought to accuse Jesus of wrong-doing. With only a functional left hand this man was caught in a perpetual state of uncleanness and social estrangement. And now he was being used as bait.

Jesus called the man up and healed him. “Stretch out your hand.” In that moment Jesus disrespected the sacred conventions of the religious; and by extension he was a threat. If an honour deficit is allowed to rule the heart, the heart always moves towards fury and violence.

But, Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, more than covers the shame of honour deficits. The One who healed in the moment He said, “Stretch out your hand,” stretched out His own hands on a cross and carried our shame, our honour deficits, for our healing.

“22He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:22-25

Weddings, Social Politics, and Seating Charts

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Do you care where you sit?

7Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Luke 14:7-11

What was obvious to Jesus is also obvious to others. When we are eager for respect, honour, position, status, we will climb over others to get into the seat of honour. Those who demand honour cannot calibrate the mind of a greater host. We are at the mercy of the host; to act otherwise is to show our smallness, pettiness, jealousy, vanity, and fear.

Jesus’ words here are not just wisdom for endearing ourselves to others by refusing to manipulate social politics for personal gain. Jesus is showing us the basic internal posture of kingdom citizens. His Kingdom citizens entrust themselves to the Host of the Great Wedding Feast. We are His servants, invited to His party, and He decides how, when, where, and why to exalt us.

Humility is a choice. It only becomes unconscious and part of our character when we are glad to be at the party with Jesus and anyone else He has included. Humility becomes our character as we are extraordinarily confident and secure in the Father’s love and acceptance of us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Then it doesn’t matter where we sit.

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