August 26, 2022 Pastor: Rev. Peter Mills
Proper 17/C [Pent. 12] (08/28/2022): Ps. 131; Prov. 25:2-10; Heb. 13:1-17; Luke 14:1-14.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (v. 11).
There are two meals before us: explicitly the Pharisaic Seder; and by implication heaven’s wedding feast Jesus established part and parcel of his Supper and self-donation on the cross. It is this latter feast to which you are invited, a foretaste in today’s word hearing and Eucharistic feeding.
At the Gospel’s seder, Jesus, doubtless was “honored” pre-Service guest, teacher and morning Torah commentator. At the meal he was confronted by a legally “unclean” diseased man. Jesus enquired of Israel’s Pharisaic teachers, if it was appropriate to heal the man on Sabbath; silence! Then he healed the man, his third Sabbath healing. No doubt the cleansed man was escorted from the house.
Jesus was on way to Jerusalem, where he would institute his Supper, thence to Gethsemane and then himself escorted outside the city for crucifixion, instantiating the Body and Blood substance of his Supper. Jesus’ death in Fire concluded God’s once for all atonement of sin; a New Covenant, new altar, and new priesthood in which those alienated under law, are invited, in repentant faith to heaven’s banquet.
Healing the diseased man at the Pharisaic seder Jesus looked to the self-conceited guests jockeying for honorific seats and taught, employing a proverb from the court of Solomon and a kingdom parable, that one should not stand before the King in a place reserved for a greater noble, or be reduced in humiliation. The proverb is common-sense truism for avoiding humiliation before the king in his court (Prov. 25:6, 7).
However, in light of Jesus’ elevation on the cross, the Baptized in NT worship hear the proverb anew, discerning gospel substance about our Table etiquette (Lk. 14:10, 11) in Christian humility. Baptized into Christ, the greatest among us follow the Lord’s service for us (Lk. 22:27).
At the crux of our creedal confession, we deeply bow before the Altar at the word’s, “and was made man”, emphasizing Jesus’ humanity. Taking flesh into himself, Jesus neither condescended nor was he humiliated; “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 2:31);
Rather, Jesus, in obeisance to the Father, appropriated the sin of the world into his “good” flesh. Jesus, sent from heaven, “that we might have this mind among [our]selves … who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of servant … And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death on a cross” (Phil. 2:5-8).
Thus, communal humility, is our mark of Christian service, “A new command I give you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you love one another” (Jn. 13:34). Baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection anoints us into our priesthood, at a new Altar, in God’s new Temple outside Jerusalem; the Christian mass is that place for grace and sanctification in love’s call.
Baptized with our High Priest, Christ, we offer with him, no propitiatory atonement, he has already offered and received by God once for all and all time. Rather, our sacrificial service to God is Eucharistic, a sacrifice of thanksgiving praise, the exchange of his righteousness and holiness for our sin.
In Baptism we possess the HS for hearing God’s word and partaking heavenly food in faith, the risen Body and Blood of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Our feeding sustains us for growth in faith by which we are saved and marked to the same humility of our crucified Lord.
Faithful in worship, we discern new relations; gathered into his Body as blood brothers and sisters, we know God’s love and conformed to Jesus’ “likeness” (Heb. 12:2). In this love we cannot forget hospitality to Christians seeking fellowship with angels and archangels.
Christian worship is at times and places criminal activity. We remember those in prison. In today’s environment such persecution observes faithful pastors deposed from congregations (12:15).
In humility we hold marriage in honor, a holy estate within the Church. Marriage is not a “sacrament”, it is nevertheless the venue of procreation with God and for forgiveness in humility between a man and a woman for on-going fidelity.
A humble spirit frees us from love of money and excessive worry about it. Here we “look to Jesus” who on earth had no place to rest his head, and to the “great cloud of witnesses” with us who, in faith trust God for all things and the promise of a better inheritance.
The teacher of Hebrews fleshes out Christ’s humility as our own; in all things by faith, we have the assurance of a “good conscience” Christ has gained for us by his atoning work.
Guidance from the teacher to the Hebrews may be law; still, for the Baptized it is law that presupposes gospel forgiveness, revealing where and how saving faith brings us to our intended end, recreation as image of God and likeness of Christ. Amen.