Before I move into the lesson, I want to recognize that today is Independence Day in the USA! A day in which we celebrate our independence from oppression and our freedom to live as Americans. We thank God for this freedom, Jesus for his sacrifice, and for the men and women who not only helped establish the United States of America in 1776 but also those who fought to keep us free for all these many years. We live in a wonderful nation, founded upon Godly principles. Let’s commit to praying for our nation that we might return to the Lord and remain as a country who honors God in all we do.
“When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.” Luke 11.37-41
How would you like to invite Jesus to dinner, expecting a bit of encouragement and uplift in your social status among your neighbors, only to receive a lesson in morals and ethics?
This is what happened to the Pharisee, name not given, who invited Jesus to dinner after he finished speaking to the crowds. It had been a series of different lessons about prayer, demon possession, signs and judgements and sin. (What was the Pharisee expecting?) Jesus was in a truthful mood.
And so Jesus comes in to the house, sits down and reclines at the table for dinner. Yet the Pharisee notices (and possibly says something to Jesus) about not washing (his hands and feet?) before the meal. So Jesus, lets him have the truth of the matter. He presents a series of rebukes to the Pharisees in particular, the bulk of which will be covered in my next entry.
The first rebuke is about how the Pharisees “clean the outside of the cup and dish, but the inside” (the cup represents them) “is full of greed and wickedness.” Jesus then says, “You foolish people! Did not the one (God) who made the outside also make the inside?” Ouch. This is a rebuke indeed, and as I said, Jesus is just winding up! There is more to come.
Was Jesus insensitive to this Pharisee in whose house he was a guest? Should he have been more pleasant? Less direct? Less accusatory? Should Jesus have been a little more polite and skirted around the truth, tip-toeing around the Law as not to offend? In no way. Jesus, unlike us, had no choice but to speak God’s truth. It was painfully clear that these so-called experts in the Law were way off base. They were missing the mark. However, Jesus does offer a bit of reprieve when he says, “But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you,” v.41.
Time is short for Jesus. He was on a mission and had little time for niceties. Better to be directly blunt and truthful than fearful and fidget with the truth. He told the Pharisees exactly what they were doing wrong and gave them the answer (give to the poor) for redemption.
Sometimes, like Jesus, we must speak the truth in love. We might have a good Word from the Lord for someone yet if we repress it, we might be limited their growth and blessing. We should always share truth with others with kindness, compassion and affection for them as children of God made in his image.
If there a truth you need to speak to someone? Have you made sure the plank is removed first from your own eye before pointing out the speck in someone else’s? (Matthew 7.5) Pray about your sharing and allow the Holy Spirit to help you spread his truth in love.
On this Fourth of July, I am reminded that we live in a nation which is moving further away from our Judeo-Christian roots and beliefs. Let’s pray for our nation but also not be afraid to stand up for the Gospel, speak God’s heart to our leaders and represent everything the Lord has called us to be. By his grace and for his glory.
“O Lord God, it is so hard to hear rebuke! We like to be liked, we want to be liked, we need to be liked by others! But your love is primary and your word is truth. Come now, Holy Spirit, help us both to offer and receive truth in love from others. Help us share with this nation, the compassion you have given to us. Fill us with your Spirit and help us walk in the way that leads to life eternal. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen