Faith in Christ leads to action
NARRATIVE LEADING UP TO THE PARABLE OF THE GREAT DINNER
Jesus heals a man and teaches the Pharisees about the Sabbath (vv. 1-6)
Jesus was invited for a meal at the house of a leader of the Pharisees (Luke 14:1). It was the Sabbath—a day of rest, a day of teaching. On the way, Jesus healed a man with dropsy and challenged on-looking lawyers and Pharisees about the legitimacy of healing on the Sabbath. So, even before the meal, the day has taken a turn away from the expected. Jesus explains his act of healing by referring to a practical example which the Pharisees could not dispute. “Then he said to them, ‘If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?’” (Lk 14:5 NRSV). Thus, Jesus removes the legalism placed on the Sabbath by the Pharisees. In so doing, Jesus demonstrates his authority as a teacher. Moreover, not only can Jesus interpret the meaning of the Sabbath and God’s purposes for it, he can act accordingly to address human needs. Therefore, Jesus conveys a larger purpose of the Sabbath and demonstrates a level of understanding that is beyond what the Pharisees possess.
Jesus shows that he is able to teach by his actions and his words—and Luke describes this healing and teaching event as taking place before Jesus arrives at the house of the Pharisee who is hosting the meal. The listener or reader of these events will observe more than a coincidence that the scene of the healing and the scene of the meal both involve Pharisees, who viewed themselves as custodians of the law. What could be the connection of the Pharisees with the man with dropsy? The following description provides an interesting and insightful explanation. “Also known in antiquity is the metaphorical use of ‘dropsy’ as a label for money-lovers, the greedy, the rapacious – that is, for persons who share the very condition for which the Pharisees are indicted in the Gospel of Luke . . . . The presence of the dropsical man, according to the reading,
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Jesus told the parable of the great banquet (or the great dinner) while at a meal at the home of a Pharisee. The parable portrays how the kingdom of God includes people who are downtrodden – the Pharisees had dismissed such people. The parable is in the context of humility (Luke 14:11).
The Parable of the Great Banquet