Nothing stops the mercy of Christ. Not the silence of the Pharisees, not the horrid appearance of dropsy, and not the sin of mankind. The Lord does not hesitate in his redemption of his people, he goes to the cross in perfect, unflinching love.
However, as people still living with sin, there is much that stops our mercy to our neighbor. Here in Luke 14, Jesus highlights our desire for exaltation among men as being one of the great offenders in the battle for mercy.
By nature, we are always watching carefully, always plotting, always considering our position in relationship to others. Even when we attempt to be humble, our humility is imperfect, it’s still aimed at an eventual exaltation among men.
Christ shows us clearly that our only exaltation is found solely and completely in the humiliation of the Son of God, in his passion and death, in his own righteousness delivered to you.
In that, we rest secure, not having a righteousness that comes by works, even works of humility, but having a righteousness that comes through Christ, in his mercy, to us.
As the man healed from dropsy now goes forth from Christ’s presence to tell of what Jesus has done, so also, as freed saints of God, we step forth into our vocations to tell of God’s love, no matter how indescribable it may be.
This ‘telling’ is in fact, not our work at all, but God’s glory and His continued mercy to our neighbor. For we are free, He has exalted us in the death and resurrection of His Son, there is nothing left to do, and everything to receive.
For further reflection:
A Pharisee, of higher rank than usual, invited Jesus to a banquet. Although he knew their bad intentions, he went with him and ate in their company. He did not submit to this act of condescension to honor his host. He rather instructed his fellow guests by words and miraculous deeds that might lead them to the acknowledgement of the true service, even that taught us the gospel. He knew that even against their will he would make them eyewitnesses of his power and his suprahuman glory. Perhaps they might believe that he is God and the Son of God, who took on our likeness but was unchanged and did not cease to be what he had been. … As they were silent from ill will. Christ refutes their unrelenting shamelessness by the convincing arguments that he uses, “Who son of you,” he says, “or whose ox shall fall into a pit, and he will not immediately draw him out on the Sabbath day?” If the law forbids showing mercy on the Sabbath, why do you take compassion on that which has fallen into the pit? … The God of all does not cease to be kind. He is good and loving to people.
-Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 101.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.