As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited Him home for a meal. So He went in and took His place at the table. His host was amazed to see that He sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom.Luke 11:37-38
Oh joy, another invitation to eat with the Pharisees. I can’t wait. One always has to wonder what the motivation of inviting Jesus home was this time. Especially to a pack of ravenous Pharisees and rude ones no less. Note the comment above “As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited Him home for a meal.” Now that is an interesting little detail. AS HE WAS SPEAKING, He got an invitation to dinner. This construction could well be translated like it has been here in the NLT. In other words the man who invited Him home for a meal, interrupted Jesus as He was speaking. That is assuming that Jesus was speaking to all of the Pharisees and not just one of them. If it was while He was speaking to them all, then it was rude. If on the other hand Jesus was speaking to just one man who then invited Him home to talk more about what they had been talking about then that is a different matter.
But this segment could also be translated as the translations have handled it below. Some hold the sense of Jesus being interrupted
- (AMP) Now while Jesus was speaking,
- (ASV) Now as he spake,
- (BBE) Now, while he was talking,
- (EMTV) And as He spoke,
- (ESV) While Jesus was speaking, (KJV) And as he spake,
- (LITV) And as He was speaking,
- (Murdock) And while he was speaking, (NLT) As Jesus was speaking,(RV) Now as he spake,
- (Webster) And as he was speaking,
- (YLT) And in his speaking,
Others have the sense that the Pharisee saved his request until after Jesus had finished talking.
- (CEV) When Jesus finished speaking,
- (GNB) When Jesus finished speaking,
- (GW) After Jesus spoke,
- (ISV) After Jesus had said this,
- (MSG) When he finished that talk,
- (NASB) Now when He had spoken,
Whichever way it is translated there is still the sense of immediacy to what was said before it. Note the way the ISV and the Message handle it. The link is made directly to what Jesus was just telling them. In other words the warning about their “light” actually being darkness. Now that is a controversial topic over which to invite Jesus home. It makes one suspicious of the motivation for the invitation. Especially if the speaker has interrupted Jesus in the midst of what He was telling them. If in the midst of Jesus telling the Pharisees that they are filled with darkness while they feign light, for one of them to invite Jesus home to a meal must have made Jesus suspect the motivation. But of course He knows their heart anyway and would even know what they were going to talk about when He went there.
The word for meal used here is [ariston]. This suggests the earlier meal of the day but does not have to used exclusively for that. The upper class Jews (of which the Pharisees were a part) had two meals on week days: a light meal [ariston] in the mid morning and a main meal [deipnon] in the late afternoon. A light breakfast or snack might also be taken before they started work. On a Sabbath there were three meals taken. The extra meal was a larger one after coming back from the synagogue. This occurrence is either referring to the light ariston in the mid morning or the midday meal on the Sabbath. There is no mention though of this taking place on the Sabbath so we should assume it is the mid morning meal meant here.
The flow of action when Jesus arrived is interesting. Whatever the reason in the mind of the host for the invitation it was quickly lost when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash his hands. This does not mean that Jesus did not practice cleanliness but that He didn’t fulfil the ritual dipping of the hands in water prescribed in the Mishnah, the minutiae of the Laws added by the Pharisees. This was not a rule derived from the Old Testament. It was a law added by the Pharisees and the experts in the Law. One of the rules that were added to “top up” the Laws handed down via the Torah. To spell out what should happen to keep one holy. This law was to ensure one was ceremonially clean after being in the contact with the masses and even more so if there has been a chance that He had touched or been touched by a Gentile. Horror of horrors. This act ensured the Pharisees were ritually clean from a dirty sinful world.
Ironic isn’t it. Jesus has just finished telling them that inside they had no light at all. They are full of darkness. Having been told that, one would think they want to discuss the matter at greater length to ensure they were indeed filled with light and not darkness. This is a major theme or topic of conversation of the Jews. The writings of the Qumran are filled with the theme of light and darkness. It is to be expected that the Pharisees would wish to follow up the topic Jesus had just been talking about to the crowds. That makes sense. But here they are at the beginning of the discussion at the Pharisee’s house and the host focuses on the ritual cleansing of “the outside of the cup”. It seems the host has forgotten the topic he’d invited Jesus home to discuss and now he has returned to the pretence of keeping up appearances.
I don’t hold out much hope for this conversation resolving their problem.
More in he next Gem. See you back at the Pharisee’s house at ariston time, same place. In Pharisee country.
It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.Noel Coward
I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.Oscar Wilde
Many of us believe that wrongs aren’t wrong if its done by nice people like us.Anon
The greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what we pretend to be.Socrates