“One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.” (Luke 14:1)

“O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.” (Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott (1836-97))

My Sunday morning preaching lately has explored some of the gospel records of homes which Jesus visited. There are wonderful accounts of healings, of resurrection and of transformed lives. It has all fed into exploring a narrative in which we imagine what it would be like to invite Him into our homes and hearts today. We prayerfully seek His presence in our homes. We want His healing, life-giving and life-transforming presence.

There are also biblical accounts of invitations into homes given which become intensely uncomfortable for the hosts. Some had invited Him with malicious or critical intent but soon found Him to be an uncontrollable guest deft at turning the tables. In Luke 14 we have the account of a home where Jesus “was being carefully watched” (v.1) by “Pharisees and experts in the law” (v.3). It turns out though that they were the ones being carefully watched: by Jesus. Jesus noted firstly their self-justification: a selective application of Sabbath laws to entrap Jesus but to excuse themselves from any responsibility to act as they watched to see what He would do about the presence of “a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body.” He noted secondly their sense of self-importance as they “picked the places of honour at the table.” Thirdly, He saw their blatant self-interest as they invited into their homes only those who could invite them back.

By all means, let’s invite Jesus into our homes and our hearts. We certainly want Him to come into our lives, but perhaps we should be careful what we wish for. We may have in mind our desire for His healing and transforming. But let us keep in mind that though we may invite Him as guest, He will expect to abide as Lord. He will also be watching us carefully. It’s easy to see and to condemn the values and attitudes of the Pharisees and experts in the law in Luke 14. It’s less easy to see our own self-justifications: ‘those rules don’t apply to me – they apply to others.’ It’s not easy to acknowledge our own sense of self-importance: ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ And it’s especially easy to slip into self-interest in inviting Jesus in: ‘What will I get out of this?’

He will come in if we invite Him. But are we ready to be “carefully watched”?!

“O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.”