It’s a matter of heart

There have been many times over the past two years when we couldn’t get together in the hall after church for a cuppa or a chat. We couldn’t enjoy that bonding as fellow believers of being able to have a bit more in-depth chat about what God has done in our lives or perhaps about something that was raised in a sermon. That’s something that thankfully we are now able to do again. Similarly, when we visit other churches, we might sometimes be invited to someone’s home for a meal. Again there is the sharing of fellowship, of conversation and of building bridges of friendship. We do this not only because it’s a generous thing to do but also because it allows us to get together and grow closer together as God’s people. Such an invitation allows us to get to know each other better.

An invitation to a meal was quite a big deal in the time of Jesus – in fact it still is in the Middle East. To eat with people was a way of showing you have something in common with them. To invite someone into your home meant that you appreciated them, that you wanted to spend time with them, that you wanted to talk to them and get to know them better. There were scrupulous conventions that governed the behaviour of guests when they shared another’s meal. And when we look at our text, we need to remember that the Pharisees would’ve meticulously applied and adhered to such conventions.

Our text firstly tells us about how Jesus used the invitation of a Pharisee to teach what God’s Kingdom is all about. The main emphasis of our text is on serving God with a pure heart, and we’ll see how Jesus explains this in verses 37-44.

• In verses 37-38 there’s an invitation to eat
• And in verses 39-44 there’s an invitation to live

Before we look at the Pharisee’s invitation, let’s not forget that this event took place as Jesus was making His way to Jerusalem, to His destiny on the cross. And as He travels closer and closer to that destiny, the conflict between Him and the religious leaders of the day intensified. And our passage is a good example of that conflict starting to play out.