The Pharisees Were Right

Photo by Megan Murphy

Photo by Megan Murphy

In Luke 14, Jesus tells a story at a Pharisee’s dinner party. In short, Jesus’ story is about a master who wants to throw a banquet. The invitees have lots of excuses and they choose not to attend. Instead, the host invites unlikely guests, more specifically, the poor and crippled and blind and lame.

There is a lot going on in this scene. Suffice it to say that Jesus is using this parable to describe the glories of the Great Messianic Banquet (Isaiah 25) which he is now hosting, before the Pharisees’ very eyes. These glories are mostly lost on them, for all sorts of reasons.

Most prominently, however, is that the Pharisees had come to a place where they did not conceive of themselves to be hungry and thirsty for the feast Jesus offers. See, Jesus offers a feast for the poor and crippled and blind and lame. And he offers a feast only for those people. They do not think of those words when they think of themselves. To extend another metaphor from Luke 5, Jesus has come as a doctor for the sick, and only the sick. He has come for sinners and for sinners only. They are at a point where they do not deem themselves to be sick or sinful. Therefore, is is simple logic: what Jesus offers is not necessary for them.

To understand the magnitude of this story we have to understand that the Pharisees are exactly right. They were on to something essential about Jesus’ work. Their instincts told them, “If you are not hungry or thirsty or poor or crippled or blind or lame or sick or sinful then you have no need of Jesus.”

The Great Banquet Host only feeds hungry stomachs and only quenches parched throats. The Great Physician has never once healed anyone who was already well. He doesn’t do check-ups. The Great Savior only saves sinners. Martin Luther wrote:

“God receives none but those who are forsaken, restores health to none but those who are sick, gives sight to none but the blind, and life to one but the dead. He does not give saintliness to any but sinners, nor wisdom to any but fools. In short: He has mercy on none but the wretched and gives grace to none but those who are in disgrace. Therefore no arrogant saint, or just or wise man can be material for God…”

-Luther W.A. 1.183f

To be clear, if you are none of those things that Luther mentions, you have no need for Jesus.

But if any of those markers mark you in any way, then the banquet table has an infinite number of leaves that can be added to expand it very, very (infinitely!) large. The finest fare, dishes of true and rich food, tumble out from the kitchen. The wine, well-aged and well-refined, flows in abundance (Isaiah 25). For the poor, riches unimaginable await. For the blind, eyes can be opened and sight restored. For the lame, leaping is possible (Isaiah 35:5-6). For the sick, health and wholeness are there, for the taking. For the sinner, forgiveness is right on the table.

All of these glories can be for the Pharisee, too. This is the whole point of Jesus’ prophetic pleading. The only fitness that he requires from them, however, is that they know their need of him.

December 2018 at Grace Fellowship!

GRACE FELLOWSHIP (December 2018)

Hello Grace family! With December being a month filled with travel and commitments, we wanted to take this time to lay out some of the things going on around our church. Advent is a special time of celebrating all the Lord has done, is doing, and will continue to do. We invite and appreciate your participation in this joyous season leading up to Christmas! Here’s a quick list of all the things you need to know about!

Community Food Drive

We have the unique opportunity to provide food for some families our community this Advent season. It’s a great undertaking, and we would love for everyone to partake in serving those around us who are in need. You may sign-up to bring items online here, or you may donate money to @Grace-Fellowship with the notation “Food Drive.” Please signup or donate by this Sunday, 12/9! Special shoutout to Jenny Firth and Rachel Miley for making this possible!

Nine Lessons and Carols

On Wednesday, 12/12 at 6:30pm, we will gather at Second Presbyterian for a time of singing songs and reading the Scriptures. Feel free to come as you are from work, invite friends, and bring the whole family! A nursery will be provided for children under 4-years-old.

Grace Kids Advent!

It is such a joy to lead our children at Grace in the celebration of Christ’s first and second coming. Marjorie Eiland and Ethan Smith have labored faithfully to create a masterful workbook for our kids this Advent season. Our kids will hear an Advent lesson each Sunday, and each family will have activities throughout the week centered around Christ’s birth and work on our behalf. Make sure to grab a copy of the curriculum next week if you haven’t received yours already!

Advent Gatherings

The Advent/Christmas season is a perfect time for sharing the love of Jesus with those around us. This year, we would love for members of our church to host an Advent Gathering. We wish to build relationships with our neighbors, practice hospitality, and give an experience for churched and unchurched people to hear the good news of Christ. This is a time of sharing food and drink, singing carols, and reading the Christmas story. Contact to learn more about hosting an Advent Gathering!

Christmas Eve Service

We will have a simple and simple service this Christmas Eve, at 4pm, at Second Presbyterian. We are eager and excited to celebrate the fulfillment of Advent preparation with the joyous celebration of Jesus’ birth. Nursery will be provided for under 4-years-old.

We're Hiring! Ministry Coordinator at Grace Fellowship

 Grace Fellowship longs to see Jesus glorified and treasured above all things, and the Magic City renewed by the power of the Gospel. We believe that we're called to be a family of Christ-followers sent to celebrate and declare the gospel in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, and to the ends of the earth.

As the church continues to grow both numerically and spiritually, the administrative, pastoral support, and operational needs continue to expand. Therefore, Grace is looking for an individual to partner with the ministerial staff, elders, and other ministry leaders to help coordinate details and bring cohesion to the implementation of plans, thus serving to ensure a quality of ministry across all areas of the church.

This is a part-time position. We are flexible with regard to hours, but we anticipate the role requiring up to thirty hours per week.

Inquiries, including a chance to see the full-job description, can be directed to Grace’s lay elders: