Christmas to Calvary — December 14

A Man Suffering from Edema Healed

And it happened that when he came to the house of a certain one of the leaders of the Pharisees on a Sabbath to eat a meal, they were watching him closely. And behold, a certain man was in front of him, suffering from edema. And Jesus answered and said to the legal experts and Pharisees, saying, “Is it permitted to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. And he took hold of him and healed him, and sent him away. And he said to them, “Who among you, if your son or your ox falls into a well on the day of the Sabbath, will not immediately pull him out?” And they were not able to make a reply to these things.

The Parable of the Guests at the Wedding Feast

Now he told a parable to those who had been invited when he noticed how they were choosing for themselves the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not recline at the table in the place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you has been invited by him, and the one who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give the place to this person,’ and then with shame you will begin to take the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the table in the last place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then it will be an honor to you in the presence of all those who are reclining at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Parable of the Great Banquet

And he also said to the one who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or wealthy neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. But whenever you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they are not able to repay you. For it will be paid back to you at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Now when one of those reclining at the table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But he said to him, “A certain man was giving a large banquet and invited many. And he sent his slave at the hour of the banquet to say to those who have been invited, ‘Come, because now it is ready!’ And they all alike began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, ‘I have purchased a field, and I must go out to look at it. I ask you, consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen, and I am going to examine them. I ask you, consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and for this reason I am not able to come.’ And the slave came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame!’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and press them to come in, so that my house will be filled! For I say to you that none of those persons who were invited will taste my banquet!’”

The Cost of Discipleship

Now large crowds were going along with him, and he turned around and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and furthermore, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, wanting to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish it, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’ Or what king, going out to engage another king in battle, does not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand. But if not, while the other is still far away, he sends an ambassador and asks for terms of peace. In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not renounce all his own possessions cannot be my disciple.

“Now salt is good, but if salt becomes tasteless, with what will it be made salty? It is usable neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it out. The one who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Questions for Reflection:

  • Consider the marks of a Christian in “The Cost of Discipleship” section. Do you think most people think of these marks when they think of being a Christian? Why or why not? What difference would these marks make on Christian life and ministry if they were remembered and more consistently applied?

Live-the-Word Challenge:

For many, the Christmas season is about gift-giving and -receiving, but there are some families who are unable to take part in this aspect. There are ministries – you likely have seen some advertised – that you can donate presents to that will give them to needy families. Consider buying a present and donating. If you have children, maybe take them shopping for something they would like to have and show them the beauty of buying it for someone else.

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