Lent Reflections @ CEC: Questions of Jesus
“What we see in Christ is sacrificial love. Merciful love. Love that values the well-being of others above itself. Love that will generously and fully pour itself out, whatever the cost, in order that the beloved might benefit, flourish, and thrive.” — Krish Kandiah
Scripture: Luke 11:37-41
When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
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. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
Do you not know that the one who made the outside also made the inside?
Jesus is a terrible dinner guest.
When I'm invited for dinner, sometimes, (if I really have my act together) I'll remember to bring a little gift. Or I'll offer to bring something to add to the dinner, usually dessert. I'm really good at dessert.
But for sure I'm not going to dinner and calling my host/hostess a fool.
But that's exactly what Jesus did. And it seems like he did it on purpose.
Imagine. Jesus comes in and sits right down. He knows all the rituals. He knows all the rules. And it seems as if he purposely disregards them in order to spark a response. It works. The host says, “Hey, I notice you didn't wash your hands. What's up with that?” That's all the opening that Jesus needs.
He knows their hearts. He knows the rule-following, burden-laying, guilt-inducing tendencies that flow from inside of them. He knows their desire to do all of the right things and to be known for doing all of the right things. He also knows what's really inside. The greed. The insecurities. The fear of not being enough. The pride. The lust for power and authority. The way they focus on outer performance and behavior without ever looking inside their own hearts.
But it's really bad form. A good guest does not go to dinner and call out the host AND the other guests. In middle eastern culture, the table is a sacred space. You align yourself with a person when you sit at the table with them. Jesus sat at the table with all sorts of people. Sometimes "sinners." This time he sat with some Pharisees and lawyers.
“You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup but not the inside. Don't you know that the creator made both the inside and the outside?”
Here's the bottom line. If you focus on the inside, the outside will be clean as well. Take care of your heart, and everything will flow from that.
As we spend time getting to know the Jesus of the Bible, his heart, his compassion for people, something happens inside of us that will become visible on the outside. People will know that Jesus is doing the work of transformation on the inside because it will change everything about us - our thought life, our hope, how we treat those around us, how we react in difficult situations. There will be a natural outflow that is evident to those around us because we have been with Jesus.
What would Jesus say to me if he came to my house for dinner? Is there something He would do so that I would ask Him a particular question? What question would He ask me? He knows my heart, and the question he might ask would be for my very good, to draw out what He wants me to see in myself, for my growth, for my healing, so that I become a better reflection of Him in this world.
May we allow you to ask the hard questions in our lives as we place ourselves in your care, to be transformed, to be made whole, to be redeemed and rescued. Fill us with your Spirit and transform us from the inside out.