17. Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Luke 14:1-1, “1And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath day, that they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him who was suffering from dropsy. And Jesus answering spoke unto the scribes and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day? And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not right away pull him out on the Sabbath day?
And they could not answer him again to these things. And he told a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the best seats; saying unto them, ”When invited to a wedding, sit not down in the highest place; lest a more honorable man than you be invited. And he that invited you and him come and say to you, Give this man your place; and you then with shame sit on the lowest chair. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest chair; that when he that invited you comes, he may say unto you, Friend, sit up higher: then shall you have worship in the presence of them that sit at the table with you. For whosoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.”
1. These issues we find in today’s Gospel text: a.) how to worship correctly and how to live before God; b.) how to live before man.
2. Immediately the first question arises: is it, in God’s eyes, better for us to observe the Sabbath Day, or is it better to help people on that day? That’s the question the Pharisees asked the Lord Christ, and with which they tried Him; they were very interested to see if He would heal the sick man or not. They think that if He doesn’t heal the sick person, they can accuse Him of being hard and without mercy to people and that He won’t do good to people. On the other hand: If He heals this man they think they can accuse Him of breaking the Sabbath Law, of being disobedient to the Word of God and to God Himself. No matter, how our dear Lord will decide they will find something they can use against Him. Keeping the Sabbath was of utmost importance to the Jews. It was dangerous to break the Sabbath Law. What is our good Lord going to decide? What is He going to do? He does what’s right in His eyes. With that He puts the Pharisees to shame -- He puts them to shame so much that everyone is able to see what great fools they are. Everyone can see now what kind of fools they are, even though they are thought of as the spiritual leaders, or regents of Israel.
3. Very clearly He tells them that they don’t know what it means to keep the Sabbath holy. He tells them that how they interpret the Sabbath law as to be lazy all day, not doing anything. He tells them that keeping the Sabbath holy means to listen to the Word of God and to help your neighbor in whatever way you can. God didn’t give the Sabbath commandment for us to be lazy and to forget about the needs of our neighbor. If I help my neighbor who is in need I have kept the Sabbath even though I have worked, because I did godly work. Christ interprets the Sabbath law in regard to the third commandment: in everything we do we shall consider the Word of God and do what the Word of God commands us to do. What does the third commandment teach us? It teaches us to love each other and to do good to each other. And that’s what God wants us to be taught on the Sabbath Day. The conclusion of all this is that with such good works you won’t defile the Sabbath Day.
4. That’s also the reason why Christ says to the Pharisees that they’re such hardened people that they call doing good breaking the Sabbath Law. Especially on Sabbath it is preached to love one another. However, what does it mean to love one another? It simply means to not only love one another in words only, but also to help your neighbor physically with your hands as well as to comfort him with the Word of God and to admonish him with it --to wrap it all up: to help his body and also his soul. St. John says in his first letter to the church, chapter 3, verse 18: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” Yes, the Lord God gave the Sabbath Commandment so that you would listen to His Word and learn from it how to be friendly to your neighbor in words and helpful in deed whenever he needs your help.
5. The Lord tells these false saints who interpret the Word of God so that it fits them how wrong they are. They praise themselves for keeping the Sabbath, but they don’t have enough love for their neighbor to even give a naked person a shirt or a pair of shoes. Such folls they are! God tells us to love our neighbor. What do they do? They say, God forbid! I might break the Sabbath Law by doing good. That’s false teaching and changing the Word of God around! Especially on the Sabbath Day it is preached that you must love your neighbor, care for him, do good to his body and his soul. In today’s Gospel text the Lord gives us an example of what it means to do good to body and soul. It's not a shame for you, He says, if on a Sabbath your donkey or your ox falls into the water; you don’t break the Sabbath if you help them out of the ditch again so they won’t drown. It’s not a sin to help your animal on a Sabbath with all your means so that you don’t lose them. What kind of crazy saints you are: the animals who are, after all, just animals, you think it’s right to help, but on the other hand, you won’t allow a poor man like this man to receive the help he needs because it’s a Sabbath Day!?
6. Just watch; the Lord catches those who think they can catch Him. What great fools they are, who think they can master Jesus or teach Him! Oh, those Pharisees -- they really do think they can catch Christ in doing wrong no matter what he does. However, He answers them correctly and they turn red from shame and can’t accuse Him. He says to them, “You hypocrites, you are the ones who break the Sabbath law. You watch Me to catch Me breaking the Sabbath, but it’s you who break it. To hallow the Sabbath means to listen to God’s Word and do holy works, to love your neighbor to help him out in his need, be merciful, helping, counseling and comforting those in need, and to give them food and drink. To do such means hallowing the Sabbath and serving God. To do differently means celebrating a foolish kind of Sabbath worship. God doesn’t want that and He doesn’t need it either. He also doesn’t like it when our Catholics wail in church all day long. He wants for us to listen to His word and live according to it by putting it into practice.
7. Listen to this great verse in Hosea 6:6, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God, more than burnt offerings.” What exactly does it mean to know God? Nothing else but to listen to God’s Word. Why that? Because without listening to God’s Word no one will know God. Therefore, when the Word comes and says, “I am the Lord your God who has sent His Son to the Cross of Calvary for you, I have accepted you in baptism”, we shall know God through this, the Word of God. Through the Word of God we can recognize how merciful and full of grace He is. Our minds don’t understand this on their own. From that we conclude that because knowing God means serving God, hallowing the Sabbath is hearing God’s Word and putting it into practice. These unholy hypocrites, the Pharisees, don’t do that. They don’t listen to the Word of God and they don’t put it into practice, but in spite of that they feel their way of hallowing the Sabbath is the right way.
8. The Catholics do the same, yes, even kings and lords who still oppose the Word of God and listen everyday to mass being read. They think that’s their particular act of worship and that they can’t live one day without it. Yes, they run and listen to mass, but not once a month, no, not even once a year, do they listen to a sermon. And even if they do listen to a sermon being preached, they still don’t hear the least from scripture, the Word of God, but they hear a lot from man’s own reasoning and philosophy. That’s their church service by which they hallow the Sabbath or another holiday. However, there is no other way to hallow the Sabbath than to hear God’s Word being preached and put His Word into practice according to scripture.
9. From this we conclude that Christians should celebrate the Sabbath on every day of the week. Everyday we should listen to God’s Word and live according to it. Of course Sunday is the one day in the week when all the common citizens should make it a point to listen to the Word of God, to be taught by it and to learn how to live according to it; because on the other six days every common man needs to do his work to earn his bread. God agrees to that because He has ordered it to be so. However, He wants to hallow the seventh day. We shall not work on this day so that everyone is free be taught from God’s Word to do good works and to focus on the eternal, not on the temporal.
10. Our first lesson today is for us to know how to hallow the the Sabbath Day according to God’s Will: hearing God’s Word and putting it into practice. You see, according to Hosea, it is a much better act of worshipping God to hear God’s Word then come sacrifices.
11. Point two is about humility. At the end of his parable the Lord says, “For whosoever exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.” That's not only true in regard to God, also people don't like the arrogant. But it must be a particularly evil person who is at enmity with someone who has a humble and pious heart. Such a person everyone likes. It's more than natural to love humble people. A humble, obedient servant girl is well liked by her mistress; it's almost impossible for anyone to be at enmity with such humble and easy going people. So you see, it's quite natural for almost anyone to love humble people.
12. On the other hand, no one loves the arrogant. As soon as the father or mother notice disobedience or arrogance in their children (these two vices usually come together) the parents start wonder how to heal their children, how to rid their children of their pride and to humiliate them, or even how to make their youngsters leave the house for good. The secular authorities do the same: whoever is to arrogant and full of pride and disobedient will be taught by the hangman's sword or rope how to be humble.
13. Why is it that no one likes pride? It's because God doesn't like it, and in His Word He says that He will see to it that the prideful and arrogant will be humbled. One can observe this in all walks of life: whoever is rich, studied, levelheaded, beautiful, strong, powerful, and mighty will be humbled as soon they become arrogant. If they don't step off their high seat, God will make them fall off of it. It is written: God is against the prideful and against the arrogant. Whoever is prideful and arrogant is at enmity with God and has to fall; not one of their supposed might and strength can help them then.
14. On the other hand, whoever is humble wins the heart of God and of man. Even God's angels will regard him as a gem. Afterwards, luck and blessing follow. Even peasant's sons or sons of poor citizens without any heritage from their parents can become powerful and mighty so that even counts and lords look up to them because of his intellect and skill. Where does such luck come from? It's because our Lord and God in His goodness and mercy just can't help but bless the humble. Psalms 113 says, “Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high; Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! He raises up the poor out of the dust and lifts the needy out of the dunghill that He may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. He makes the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.”
15. Such as this should move us to humble ourselves and it should move the children to be obedient and to remember that God wants them to obedient; He wants them to be humble and not arrogant. They should remember that God wants to lift them out of their low rank if they humbly wait for Him to raise them up.
16. It was the same way with Saul: obediently he herded his father's donkeys and thought of himself as least of all of Benjamin. To him, someone who thought of himself as small and insignificant, the Lord sent the prophet Samuel to as king over Israel. Because he was humble and not proud, God gave him mercy and grace to be king over Israel. What happened soon after? When Saul became king he suddenly became arrogant, his heart became proud and he stopped listening to the Word of God. And so it happened as the Lord God has raised Saul up so He cut him down. Saul even kills himself in despair and even his family was wiped out.
17. David was a fine, strong, and reasonable young lad. He also was humble and obediently herded his father's herd of sheep until Samuel came and anointed him king over Israel. He didn't become full of pride after he had become king over Israel. As the Bible goes on to tell us, David was one of eight brothers, the others were all arrogant and full of pride and despised their young brother David. However, God had told Samuel to anoint as king the one he was pointed out to him by the Lord God. God raised David to be king over Israel and at the same time He raised up enemies of David to keep him humble, otherwise, he might have become just as arrogant as Saul had and then God would have needed to remove him just as he had to remove Saul. Nevertheless, because David remained humble, and had almost lost the kingdom at one point, the Lord God returns it to him and even promises him that Christ would come out of his family.
18. The reason for this account in the Bible is so that we remain humble and beware of pride and not say, as the evil servant girls do, ”Why do I always get to clean the dishes and sweep the kitchen? Why always me? I don't always want to do as I am ordered!” Be careful about acting like that! Beware of pride. If you become proud and arrogant God will be your enemy --He doesn't like pride and arrogance, as we read in the Bible. What do you think is the reason for all this bad luck and misfortune, and for all these unhappy men and women out there in the world? There is no other reason than that they are young and want to walk around and proudly display themselves and no one is willing to obediently do what he is called to do. And so our Lord God let's them live like pigs, not learning anything worthwhile. It is said: whoever raises himself in pride will be knocked down again. On the other hand, God can't help Himself but to lift up the ones who are down. We thank our dear God that He teaches us how to live in the right way and that we can follow His teaching for His Son's sake. Amen