Friday, July 5, 2013

Luke 14:1–6

1 Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. 2 And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 4 But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. 5Then He answered them, saying, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” 6And they could not answer Him regarding these things.

Here through the Pharisees hardness of heart we see the folly of the commandments of men. For yes the Sabbath forbid work on it, but the Pharisees in their misguided zeal took a command of God and applied it with a razors edge to situations that it did not apply to, and thus made it into a terrible burden that they commanded and laid on men. And so rather than bringing rest to God's people through observance of the Sabbath, as it was intended to do (see Exodus 23:12; 31:17). They only brought hardship and misery on those God commanded them to shepherd through the law; and this they often did (as the Gospel so readily reveals) to those in need of some real rest from life's burdens and troubles. And that is the peril of serving God through the doctrines, commandments, and traditions of men. Ones heart always becomes hardened towards God and their fellow person.
And so here (as elsewhere in the Gospel, Jesus time and again intentionally heals those who are need of healing on the Sabbath; and this He often does in their direct presence. For Jesus has no intention of hypocritically observing the Sabbath as they were accustomed to doing. As Jesus says they would think nothing of lifting their own ox or donkey out of a pit on the Sabbath if it had fallen into it. Not that they would lift a finger to assist anyone else in need on the Sabbath, or any other day, (see Matt 23:4). But if their own property was in jeopardy on the Sabbath, then they would think nothing of "working" on it to save it. Yet they will find serious fault with Jesus time and again for showing mercy to people in need on the Sabbath. Even going so far as too condemn His actions (and later seeking to destroy His Person) simply because in His doing good to those in real need of rest on the Sabbath, Jesus did so by violating their commandments, not Gods. And so as Jesus says elsewhere we are to beware of the leaven, that is the doctrines, of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1). For one can be utterly wicked on the inside, and cruel on the outside, and yet still be utterly self-justifying, as the Pharisees often were, simply because one adheres to the doctrines and commandments of men handed down to them. Now this situation is not unique too them, but sadly exists in our day as well. For wherever a man-made and decreed righteousness is taught and observed, there you will find people living hypocritically and judging hypocritically (John 7:21-24), and not being just, loving, or kind as God commands of us all, as His people (consider Isaiah 1:16-17; Micah 6:8; Hosea 12:6; Zachariah 7:8-10). For as the text reveals the Pharisees in having invited Jesus to eat bread with them on the Sabbath, had an ulterior motive in doing so. For as Luke's Gospel describes the scene they were all watching Jesus closely, for there was also there a man who dropsy. Whether he was there by coincidence or by their doing were are not told. But he was there, and so the Pharisees knowing Jesus' tendencies, were watching Him closely, to see whether or not He would heal this man on the Sabbath. (Now if you don't know what dropsy; also called edema is; it is the swelling of body tissues, usually around the feet, ankles, lower legs, hands, eyes, or lower back area. Though an entire limb or the whole body may be affected as the condition worsens. Particularly worrisome are the stomach or chest area which can turn into a life threatening condition if left untreated (info source; Medline Plus, online). And so Jesus, with no prompting from the Pharisees, readily observes that the mans painful and often debilitating condition. And so Jesus in response to the obvious need in front of Him, asks the lawyers and Pharisees: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Not that Jesus needed an answer from them. But that through their hardness of heart He could dramatically reveal to us all that God's compassion for all people is not bound to the observance of man made doctrines or decrees. For it is always right to do good on the Sabbath, or any other day of the week. And so with their silence Jesus takes the man and heals him and lets him go (vs 4). And having done so Jesus now responds to their silence by saying: “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” vs. 5 To which they could (or would not) answer Him nothing (vs 6.). And so through their silence we see their cruelty. I mean if ever there is cause to rejoice and thank and praise God it is when someone anyone finds Him, and or mercies from Him. Yet the Pharisees true to their form remained utterly silent in the presence of such compassion, not wanting to give any indication to Jesus that what He had just done, was indeed a good and gracious work of God. Nonetheless their response, or lack thereof is, not what ultimately matters, but ours. How are we going to respond to those real and pressing needs that are placed before us? For religious statutes or observances should never tie our (or anybody else's) hands from doing good, especially when it is within our power to do so. For that is what is clearly being conveyed here by Jesus' Deed and Words. Do good to all, whether on the Sabbath or any other day of the week, for all are our neighbors, and all of the Law is summed up in loving God and ones neighbor as oneself (Matt 22:34-40). Therefore as you have ability to do good to someone, in whatever capacity you have, then by all means do it. For that is at the heart of having faith in God, doing good towards all, but especially those who believe (Gal 6:10). Therefore living a life that is callous and indifferent to another's pain, misery or despair is not living out the gospel. A Christian than has no excuses for turning a blind eye to a legitimate need when it is within our power to do something about it. Just as a Christian has no excuse for delighting in the fall, troubles or miseries of another. For professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ while doing so is not walking in the footsteps of faith and love that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself walked in and lives and thus commands of us all who are called by His Name to do the same. Therefore let us all live in Christ's love and love as the Apostle John said not just in word and tongue but rather let us love in deed and truth (1 John 3:16-18). For only then do we truly honor God when we show true compassion and mercy to all in need (Prov. 14:31; James 2:13).

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. 1982, Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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