Luke 14:1-11
The Holy Day — 17th Sunday after Trinity

In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. 

The man with dropsy was humble. (Luke 14:1-2) And the self-exalted ones, the pharisees sitting at table (Luke 14:7), had no room for him. (Luke 14:1-2) No interest in him. On the Sabbath day (Luke 14:1)—the day of meditation on the Word of the Lord (Gen. 2:1-3), on the great things He has done (Deut. 5:12-15), the day of joy at God’s creation (Gen. 2:1-3), at His making all things very good (Gen. 1:31), the day when the Lord rested setting us an example (Exod. 20:8-11) to delight in the Lord and praise Him for all He has done—on that day they remained silent about whether right to heal, right to restore, right to do good on the Sabbath day. (Luke 14:3-4) For they, in human wisdom, had precluded all work from that day. That rest day. For that’s what “Sabbath” means—rest. They had missed point. 

Just as children miss the point of the rules you make for them. You make rules to keep them safe, keep them from harming themselves. But they miss the point of your rules. Sometimes its because we don’t keep our own rules very well. Or sometimes our rules don’t make any sense. But even when the rules have good reason children still miss the point of the rules, not understanding why they are keeping the rules, what the point of the rules is. So they keep the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law. (2 Cor. 3:6b) That’s what the pharisees were doing. They were keeping the letter of the law by not doing and not allowing any work to be done on the Sabbath day. And yet, the important work of the Sabbath to preach God’s word, to heal the broken hearted, to lift up the downtrodden who in their sin were like this man with dropsy, or like a boy who had fallen into a well (Luke 14:5)… You don’t just because it’s the Sabbath say, “Oh, can you hang on down there for another 12 hours til the Sabbath is over?” No, you immediately go and save that little boy who fell into a well, because his life is in danger! (Luke 14:5) It doesn’t matter if it’s work to pull him out and if you accidentally “break” the Sabbath or the law of no work. The point of the law is not to be legalistic that “Thou shalt do no work,” but the point of law is: take a break. 

For the word of the Lord that created all things (Heb. 1:2)—the word of lord that sustains all things (Heb. 1:3), the word of Lord that provides for you day by day, He who says He is your God (Exod. 20:2-3), He who says you must turn to him in prayer (Ps. 50:15; Exod. 20:7) and call on his name and trust in him to provide all good things—that Word of the Lord, HE will sanctify you. (John 17:17; 1:14) He will make you holy. He will make you righteous and He will provide for you. He lifts up those who humble themselves before Him (Luke 14:11); those who trust in Him; those who listen to His Word even if it doesn’t seem to make sense. 

I mean, hey, if there are hard things happening, if there are things that need to get done, just because it’s the Sabbath doesn’t mean you may be able to stop doing that work. What the Lord’s saying is not, “Leave the harvest in the fields when its mouldering there.” What’s he’s saying is, “Take some time out: in the day, in the week. Take some time to listen to Me and to be healed by Me.” If you can take a whole day, wonderful! In fact, most of us most times of the year can. But we all have times where things are hot and heavy. And those are times where it is probably even more important to steal some time to listen to the Lord. To be blessed by Him and His word. To trust in Him in the midst of the stressful times and have your strength renewed. 

Because the point of the Sabbath is to heal. To restore. To meditate on the goodness of the Lord. Because that’s what the Lord wants to do: He wants to take those who trust in Him and wants to lift them up. (Luke 14:10-11) That’s the point of Jesus’ parable that he tells. When you try to lift yourself up in the sight of God and others, not by good work but trying to claim a place for yourself, but bad things are going to happen, friends. Anybody who’s read any kind of self-help book—how to win friends and influence ppl—can see that our Lord’s advice is sensible stuff. Depend on your worth to be recognized, not on trying to lift yourself up in the eyes of others. Because it is always better to be recognized for things you’ve actually done than to end up looking like a self-promoting, self-aggrandizing person. And if others don’t recognize you that’s ok. Because it’s far better that others praise you, it’s worth more than you praising yourself. It’s sensible and this has application to not only the world and daily life, it has application spiritually. to the Sabbath, to the rest of God. (Heb. 4:9-10) God wishes to give you rest. God wishes to lift you up. (Luke 14:11) But He does not do it by you lifting yourself up. 

We’ve all noticed how when your emotions are down, when you are depressed, tired, how there’s stuff in your life going on taking the steam out of you, it doesn’t matter at those times how many hours you spend in bed. You walk around mopey, downtrodden all day long. But you could get 2 hours of sleep and if you are full of joy—like your daughter’s just had a baby, like your son and his wife have just had their first child, your first grandchild—it doesn’t matter if you didn’t get any sleep all night long. You are filled with joy and light and energy. For Jesus says, “If the eye of body is light, the whole body is full of light.” (Matt. 6:22-23) And so those things which we look at, those things we are fixated on, impact us. If we are looking at the light of Jesus Christ our whole body will be filled with His light because the eye really does guide everything. At what you look at, how you frame everything you see in life, how you think about everything you experience. This all has an impact. And when we think on Jesus, when we think on His grace and mercy, when we humble ourselves and turn to Him rather than focusing on ourselves—because our natural disposition is to focus on ourselves, to think about ourselves, to be curved inward on ourselves—but when we repent, we turn away from ourselves. Our thinking is changed. We turn to Jesus—which is to humble ourselves. Not to lift ourselves up, but to humble ourselves. Before Jesus. He lifts you up. He lifts you up not only by saying, “OH, this guy is a great guy. This is the kind of guy everyone should be like. I like this guy." It’s not that. It’s not blowing air up your backside. No, He lifts you up by changing your focus. Your focus is Him. Your focus is His righteousness that He grants to you. Your focus is His acts of mercy to save you. His mighty acts of salvation. And you are lifted up. You are buoyed up in your spirit so that you can stand straight and lift your head up. Because He loves you. He has saved you. He has filled your heart with joy and peace. He has gladdened your face so you are no longer downcast. And He makes you a little more light hearted. He relieves you of the burdens you carry. For He who humbles himself will be exalted by the Lord. (Luke 14:11) And when you sit at the table of the Lord, when you humble yourself before Him seeking that which He gives (Luke 14:2)—that’s the point of the Sabbath. (Luke 14:3-5) 

And of course, we no longer gather just on the seventh day of the week. We now gather on the first day of the week. Because the law, “You shall sanctify the sabbath day by keeping it holy,” (Deut. 5:12 KJV) that law has been superseded and fulfilled. It has been brought to completion by Jesus, who is the Lord of the Sabbath. (Matt. 12:8) Jesus, who now gives to you His rest whenever you turn to Him in His word so his word and the preaching of His word are your focus now. According to Jesus in everything He taught in the Gospels—He who healed on the Sabbath, He who taught on the Sabbath, He who rested in the tomb the rest of the righteous when he rested while Sabbath. After all, remember that He died just before Friday at sun down. That’s when the Sabbath began: Friday at sundown to Saturday sundown. That’s how Jewish time works. Jesus rested the rest of the righteous through the whole Sabbath day. On Holy Saturday. He completed that law. Now, the true meaning of that law is no longer “Thou shall do no work in order to somehow make the day holy." The true meaning of that law about “You shall sanctify the holy day” is: the Word of God which lifts up the downtrodden, the down-hearted, the Word of God lifts you up. The Word of God sanctifies you. (John 17:17)

Did you know this is why we call the Spirit of God the Holy Spirit? Because the purpose of the Spirit of God is to sanctify you. To renew your faith. To sustain you in faith and to make you holy. To increase holiness in your life. And that holiness expresses itself in joy and peace. It expresses itself in reverence and soberness and seriousness about the holy things of God. But even in focussing on the holy things of God there is joy, there is peace, there is gladness. The psalms and prophets, especially Isaiah say over and over and over again, you have gladdened my heart. This is the constant repetition throughout the Old Testament. Over and over and over.

And of course, St. Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always!” (Phil. 4:4; 3:1; 1 Thes. 5:16) For he lifts us up. He grants us joy and peace. Even in the midst of what you are suffering. Especially in the midst of what you are suffering. You see, it’s not you being triumphant in life; its not you overcoming all your difficulties and being better than everyone else and everyone looks at you and says, “Wow! What a successful person!” That’s not what makes an impact and gives witness to your faith. The real thing that makes an impact is when you suffer the same way everyone on earth suffers. Because everyone on earth suffers. We all have horrible things going on in our lives constantly because this world is not the home of righteousness. (2 Pet. 3:13) This world is a place of evil, due to the sin we’ve all committed.This world is a place of evil where it befalls the righteous and the wicked alike. When you go through the same suffering everyone goes through, and yet you maintain that joy, that peace, that confidence which is yours—not because you yourself can be like, “Oh, look at me. I’m so happy all the time.” I mean, we all know fake people like that. We’ve met those folks who think that they have to be happy constantly in order to be a good Christian. And so they put on a facade. We’ve met those folks and we see through that.

But the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Neh. 8:10) For the Lord lifts up, he exalts the humble. This is what He does. And He has exalted you. By lifting you up in faith in Himself this day.

In +Jesus’ name, Amen. 


—Pastor David Haberstock
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
Regina, SK