Luke 14:1-6 - One Sabbath, when He (Jesus) went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching Him carefully. And behold, there was a man before Him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?" But they remained silent. Then He took him and healed him and sent him away. And He said to them, "Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?" And they could not reply to these things.
It's easy for me to get all riled up reading this story. Jesus is invited to dinner at the house of a Pharisee—why? Not just for the pleasure of His company, oh no. It says "they were watching Him carefully"—why? Because they'd set up a test and they were hoping he'd fail it. They wanted to see if He'd heal somebody on the Sabbath day. In their twisted little minds, that would make Him a commandment-breaker, and they could treat Him as a sinner.
But it gets worse. Because they actually brought in a man whose only qualification for being there seems to be that he was visibly, obviously sick. He had dropsy—which is the old-fashioned word for a really severe case of swelling and water retention, probably with heart failure or kidney disease thrown in. It was so bad they expected Jesus to spot it right away, even across the table—and be unable to resist healing him immediately.
Who does that? Who drags a sick man out of his bed just to set a trap for Jesus? That's just plain indecent.
Jesus is no fool. He spots the trap. And of course He's going to walk right into it, because that's the kind of Man He is. That's the kind of God He is—One who saves people, One who has compassion.
But He takes just a moment to tackle the sin-sickness of the other guests first. Can He bring them to their senses? He tries. He asks them straight out for a ruling from the law of Moses about healing. They don't answer—of course.
So Jesus turns back to His primary patient, heals him, and immediately sends him home—because the poor man didn't need any further drama in his day. Then He turns to His secondary patients, the ones who don't even realize they need His help. He says, "If your son fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn't you pull him out? Or even an ox?"
Ouch! In a single question, all their indecent behavior was exposed.
At this point, I'd expect Jesus to get up in a huff and leave. But He doesn't do that. In fact, He stays for the whole dinner, and continues to teach them! Why? Why waste His words on such hardhearted people? Why waste His words on me?
Jesus sees them as people who need Him just as much as the first man. They are not physically sick, but they are spiritually sick—and that's much, much worse. Without Jesus, they are apt to die of it. And so He stays with them, teaching them, loving them, having compassion on them. He does for them what He does for you and for me, indecent, sin-sick people that we are. He makes Himself our Savior. Now that He has risen from the dead and lives forever, His intent is to give us new hearts and minds, to make us a single, united family of God—people who love Him and one another.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, give me a heart like Yours. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Did anybody ever set a trap for you? What happened?
2. What kind of people does it bother you to think of Jesus forgiving?
3. Does it comfort you to know that Jesus died for the Pharisees? Why or why not?
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