“On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.” (Luke 14:1)
Why were the people observing Jesus carefully? Was it because they genuinely wanted to learn from him? Was it because they wanted to catch him saying a word or two that could be deemed heretical and grounds for attack? Maybe it was because they sought a loophole in the midst of his stories, a way to get around some hard sayings?
At my best I want to follow Jesus. I want to become one with the Christ who is without beginning or ending, the one who loves without fail. This requires me to acknowledge my privileges that I take for granted: my race, my socio-economic status, my place of birth (fill in the blanks for yourself). Then I am challenged by Jesus to embrace the very real humility that those on the margins don’t have the luxury of choosing but often find themselves wrapped in from birth; for example, refugees fleeing gang warfare and the effects of climate change. And closer to home, perhaps, poverty in the cities that we call home.
So we return to the beginning of the gospel and ponder why we observe Jesus carefully. Is it truly because I want to be like him? Or do I seek excuses and loopholes? Sadly, I know my motivation is often the latter. How I long to be genuinely humble and live out of a willingness to be like Jesus, the Christ, learning from observing him carefully.