While dining with the religious leaders—now full-on adversaries—Jesus noticed the many needs in the room. The miracle in this passage centers around a gentleman with dropsy—a condition that causes incredible swelling and pain in the limbs, especially the legs. His need caused everyone in the room to consider how Jesus would interact with him. Would Jesus heal on the Sabbath? Would he defy Jewish customs at a dinner with Jewish religious leaders? Would he insult their sensibilities to offer mercy and compassion to this suffering person? Of course he would! While everyone in the room focused on the obvious needs of the man with swollen limbs, Jesus knew an even greater need festered in the hearts of the Pharisees.
Our Needs Met in Him
And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?”
Healing a Man with Swelling: The Need for Repentance
Earlier in Luke’s gospel, Luke recounted a story where Jesus healed a woman from a disabling spirit on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10-17). After facing opposition from the synagogue ruler, Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of the religious men and told them they had greater concern for their cattle on the Sabbath than a daughter of Abraham. Now, faced with very similar circumstances—Sabbath, person in need of healing, Jesus and religious leaders squaring off—Jesus knew the need he must address: the need for the Pharisees to repent. Giving them a full opportunity to turn from their wicked ways, Jesus asked them, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” (Luke 14:3). Silence. After healing, He asked a question in a similar vein in verse 5, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” Silence. Experts of the law failed to know how to answer the fulfiller of the law. The silence screamed their lack of repentance.
patience in foolishness
Though we often look at the Pharisees hard-heartedness with dismay and bewilderment, we often have more in common with them than with Jesus. Perhaps the less shocking part of their encounters lies not in the Pharisees’ stubbornness, but in Jesus’s patience to give them multiple chances to repent. Jesus, while faced with their slander, testing, and dismissal, gave the religious leaders many opportunities to turn from their wicked ways. The savior knew the man with dropsy had an acute need for healing, but he also knew the Pharisees had an acute need for healing as well.
all our needs met in him
In this study on the miracles of Jesus, we’ve seen him meet the needs of the hurting, marginalized, and victimized. We should stand in awe and reverence that he would meet those needs then and today. Yet, we must also recognize that Jesus meets the needs of the ones who cause the hurt, marginalization, and victimization if they will receive it. We all desperately need God’s healing—especially to heal our sinful ways.
Watch Session Five
Jesus Knows Our Hunger
When have you, like the Pharisees, been hardhearted? Do you believe Christ can heal your sinful heart?
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