What Heals Hypocrisy?
Iwould not want to be in his shoes.Right now in our nation history is happening. There is a vacancy on the Supreme Court. And our nation is holding hearings to see if a man by the name of Brett Kavanaugh is going to sit on the Supreme Court. And, out of all the places I would not want to sit, his seat would be the place. Imagine what it would be like to be in a room full of people who do not like you and, instead of listening to you, many of them want to find fault with you. But my dear friends, the same, if not even worse is happening in our gospel for this morning. Jesus is in a room. And everyone in that room is just waiting for him to slip up so that they can find a reason to put him to death. I would not want to be in his shoes. But that is exactly where the Holy Spirit places us this morning. In Luke 14, we read: “1 One Sabbath, when he went in to eat at the house of one of the leading Pharisees, they were watching him closely. 2 There in front of him was a man whose body was swollen with fluid. 3 In response, Jesus asked the law experts and the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they kept silent. He took the man, healed him, and sent him away. 5 And to them, he said, “Which of you whose son or ox falls into a well, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” 6 They could find no answer to these things.” (Luke 14:1–6 CSB17)
Jesus is invited to a banquet. And at the banquet is the most powerful people of the land. It’s the rulers of the Pharisees who are there. And there in front of Jesus is a man who has a disease that makes his body swell up with water. And all of the Pharisees are there looking at Jesus so that they can trap him.1 And Jesus does exactly what they wanted him to do. He heals the man who so desperately needed to be healed.
But then what does he do? He tells them a little story. He says that if any of them had their son or ox fall into a well, all of them, each of them would get down into that well and get him out—even if it was on the Sabbath. And when he says this, they cannot give him any sort of response. They cannot respond to him at all—this entire room full of experts in God’s word. Why? They know he is right. He exposed their hypocrisy. And their solution to their own hypocrisy is first to “fake it till you make it.” And then, when that didn’t work, the solution was to kill the one who was exposing their hypocrisy.
But before we move, on, instead of looking at the Pharisees, let us look at ourselves for a moment. All of us, each of us has the same hypocrisy inside of us that needs to be revealed and then healed. Each of us says, “I love Jesus” here at church and in our hearts at home. But what’s the problem? We are hypocrites. We say, “I love Jesus”, but I know more names of the Vikings line up than I do names of Jesus’ disciples. I love Jesus, but not enough to actually pick up a bible and read it. I love Jesus, but I’d rather spend time studying my fantasy football league than in bible study class with my pastor. I love Jesus, but I don’t speak like one who loves Jesus. In every place I’ve served as a pastor I’ve joined a gym. And in each place I’ve lived there’s always that guy who has that T-shirt that says he believes in Jesus. But then, inevitably, he is the guy who uses more four-letter words than men just getting out of the merchant marine. And I too fall into the same trap. When I go home from church with my collar on and stop at qwik trip to get gas. I go in to pay for the gas and there’s this shocking moment where I say to myself, “Oh yeah, you’re wearing a collar. Make sure that you act like a pastor.’” A Christian should never have to remind himself to act like a Christian. That should happen naturally. Jesus says these words so that we all—each of us would know that we are hypocrites. But, my dear friends in Christ, What heals our hypocrisy? Jesus answers that question in the words that follow: “7 He told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they would choose the best places for themselves: 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, don’t recline at the best place, because a more distinguished person than you may have been invited by your host. 9 The one who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in humiliation, you will proceed to take the lowest place. 10 “But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ You will then be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”” (Luke 14:7–11 CSB17)
What heals hypocrisy? Notice how Jesus approaches that question and problem. He sets aside the time carefully and compassionately teach them, who as professors and experts should know this already. And he uses what everybody could see right in front of them. There was this weird game that everyone there played. Each of them was trying to wiggle and wrangle themselves into the most important place to sit. So what does Jesus do? Jesus first lets them know that sinful logic always proves itself to be false. If you try to “fake it till you make it,” the truth will come out. When you sit in the place that belongs to someone else, someone will come along and see that and tell you to get to the back of the line. And Jesus says, that when you go to the back of the line, you will stay there.2
Sinful logic always shows itself to be wrong. But godly wisdom always shows itself to be right. He tells them that if, instead, they take the lowest seat, the master of the house who invited them will see them, go over to them, call them, “friend,” and then have them sit at a higher place.
Look at what Jesus is doing: He is letting them know that there is a solution to their hypocrisy. And that solution is humility. But my dear friends in Christ, that’s where these words leave us. But that’s not where we can leave these words. For we have a very important question to ask: If we cannot get rid of our hypocrisy, are we able to, on our own, just instantly and magically become humble? The answer is: no. Jesus is not speaking these words to these experts so that they can easily conclude that all that have to be is humble. No, instead, he’s showing that the humility that they need—the humility that would heal their hypocrisy, is what Jesus has.
And my dear friends in Christ, the same is true for us. It’s easy to say, “Just be humble.” The problem is that we are sinful. And just was we are full of hypocrisy, we have no humility in and of ourselves. Instead, we need to look to Jesus. Yes, it is true that humility heals hypocrisy. But that humility is not our own. Only Jesus’ humility can heal our hypocrisy. And isn’t that exactly what we see here in these words? Who of us would show the kind of humility that Jesus shows here? Jesus goes into a room full of people who want to put him to death. And he humbly puts up with it. And when he sees this man who is in such pain because of this disease, he reaches out, touches him and heals him in such perfect humility. And after he shows the experts their hypocrisy, instead of leaving the room, he reaches out to them to show them that the humility that they need is only found in him. And then he takes that humility with him all the way to the cross and dies like lamb lead to the slaughter.
So then, my brothers and sisters in Christ, take to heart the teaching that Jesus was trying so hard to teach to these experts. What heals your hypocrisy—all the times you tried to fake it will you made it and then tried to bury anyone who exposed your hypocrisy—what heals that hypocrisy is humility. But not your own. It’s Christ’s humility that heals you. For his is the only humility that can pay for your sin. And the Holy Spirit that he sends is the only one that can give to us real, true, genuine humility—the sort of humility that cannot be forced or faked. My dear friends in Christ, you need healing for your hypocrisy. And that healing is humility—But not your own. Christ’s humility heals your hypocrisy. Amen.
1 “ⲡⲁⲣⲁⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩⲙⲉⲛⲟⲓ” (Luke 14:1 GNT-ALEX)
2 “ⲁⲣⲝⲏ… ⲧⲟⲛⲉⲥⲭⲁⲧⲟⲛⲧⲟⲡⲟⲛⲕⲁⲧⲉⲭⲓⲛ” (Luke 14:9 GNT-ALEX)