“He said also to the man who had invited him, ‘When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.'” (Luke 14:12-14)

The Pharisees were the successful people of their day. They were admired and respected because of their outward appearance, their religiosity. Jesus had many confrontations with them because He threatened their lifestyle. His teachings upset their comfort zones. He said and did things that were dangerous. And he still does. Those Pharisees worshipped success as many Americans do, but such success was in terms of outward appearance of religious righteousness. But they were self-righteous and proud. No one could accuse them of wrong doing. They followed all the rituals and obeyed all the rules. And more than that, they enforced their rules upon everyone else. They despised those who broke those rules. They despised sinners who failed to measure up to their standard of what a good Jew should be. They used the Law to build up their own egos.

Jesus came to upset their lives. He came to fulfill the Law in Himself and to bestow love and mercy. He loved those who were unlovely, the poor, the lowly, the downtrodden, sinners. He favored their cause against the religious leaders of the Jews. The sinners at least were honest but the Pharisees were hypocrites. They feared being exposed as frauds. They knew nothing about the Spirit of the law, about love. They knew only the letter. The letter kills but the Spirit gives life. The spirit of the law is love. Love shows itself by acts of mercy, kindness and forgiveness in the face of anger, hatred and violence. This is what Jesus wants of His people: to extend His mercy and love to those who don’t deserve it.

That was essentially His whole purpose in coming to earth. This is what he did by dying for our sins on the cross. He stood in our place. Weak and sinful, we were helpless to change our condition or better ourselves. We could never hope to fulfill the Law perfectly and make ourselves right with God. Jesus came to do that for us. He came to fulfill the Law with its guilt, condemnation and death and deliver us from its power.