Have you ever felt like someone was watching you? Did that feeling prove to be true or were you simply self-conscious? Did you change your behavior in response to your perception of being watched? Jesus probably had the feeling of being watched in today’s story and His feeling was MORE than accurate. His behavior was perfect for that situation.
Jesus was invited to dinner after Sabbath services at the home of one of the higher up Pharisees. He probably knew they were setting Him up for some test but He went anyway. I wonder if His disciples went too. There were apparently several men of the Pharisees sect present at this dinner.
During the dinner, all the Pharisees kept close eyes on Jesus. They wanted to be able to pounce on Him at the first misstep. At one point a man with dropsy appeared before Jesus. I had to look up the meaning and symptoms of this condition, as it is not one I’m familiar with. It is characterized by an abnormal accumulation of fluid in one or more body parts. Topical Bible goes into more detail about the condition, if you are interested.
I’m wondering how this man came to be in front of Jesus. Was he a servant in the home of the Pharisee who hosted the dinner? If so, was he usually serving or was he specifically instructed to serve Jesus as “bait” to lure Jesus into a trap? If he wasn’t a servant was he another guest? Or did he come in off the street because he knew Jesus would be there? We are not told that the man approached Jesus for healing or that he even asked anything of Jesus. I’m inclined to believe he was planted there by the Pharisees to trap Jesus.
True to form, Jesus had compassion on the man. But instead of instantly healing him and dealing with any resulting fallout, He asked a question first. Have you ever heard the saying, “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission”? That is how a lot of people approach choices they think might be questionable. Jesus did the opposite, even though He knew He wasn’t going to require forgiveness after His actions.
His question might have sounded like He was asking permission, but He was actually testing His testers. “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?” (verse 4). This group knew Jesus and knew He wouldn’t refuse a suffering person. They knew a trap when they saw one. They chose to remain silent to see if Jesus took the bait and sprung the trap. Did they realize yet that Jesus was turning their own trap against them?
Of course Jesus healed the man. Then He sent the man away. I think He did this to keep the man from receiving any kind of backlash from the Pharisees. They had confronted others Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day before. Jesus didn’t let that happen in this case.
After finishing with the man Jesus turned His full attention back to His watchful audience. His comments were NOT an apology. They were instead a condemnation. “If your son or even an ox fell in a well on the Sabbath, you would IMMEDIATELY get him out. So why would you deny this man his rescue?”
You could probably hear a pen drop at that moment. This dinner isn’t over yet and over the next two days we will see where else Jesus has to say to this group. I’m thinking this may be Jesus’ last meal at this house.
Lord Jesus, thank You that You stand Your ground in every circumstance. You don’t let anyone or anything keep You from reaching out in love. You saw the trap laid out before You and walked right up to it anyway. You cared more for this man than You did for Your comfort at the table. You knew Your decision was right too and would have no need of forgiveness. Your Father loves just as deeply and You honored His love for the man too. You didn’t let anyone intimidate You!
I wish I could say that I was bold for You in any situation. I think I’m boldest behind the keyboard. But even here, I find myself trying to make sure not to offend. Lord Jesus, if I ever compromise Your word for my own comfort, please speak LOUD AND CLEAR to me. Give me Your boldness in that situation so I can speak YOUR truth. Also give me Your gentleness so that truth can be spoken in love. Thank You that Your love shone through at that dinner and that it can shine through even the toughest words here too. Keep me walking in the light of Your love.