One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he has being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from the dropsy.* Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not”? But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him … Then he asked them, “If any one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” And they had nothing to say.
We are familiar with scenes of Jesus in “hot water” with the Pharisees all through the Gospels. Here, once again, Jesus is being monitored and inspected. The trap is set. He goes to dinner after church – probably fried chicken. The host and his buddies have invited a man with severe kidney disease (“dropsy”). Now this man was grotesquely swollen from the toxins in his tissues. His kidneys were no longer able to cleanse poison from his system as they should. Today this man would be on dialysis and probably on a transplant list. There was no chance Jesus would miss this man’s need. It was graphic and ugly.
Jesus knows this is a test, so He cuts to the chase, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” And like the song says, “[They] didn’t say a mumbling word.”
Now Jesus knew the REAL problem here. He knew these Pharisees had black hearts. He knew full well he was headed for “hot water” one more time.
BUT Jesus sets the example for us! He does the right thing both for the man and for the men with the black hearts. He heals the man, and He nails the Pharisees, “If any one of you has a son or ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” Luke says, “And they had nothing to say.”
While these Pharisees (religious VIP's) were watching Jesus, He was looking into their hearts. He saw how hard their hearts were. The man had kidney disease. These other men had a fatal heart disease, they were swollen with pride!
There right in front of Jesus they apparently had no shame pushing and shoving to get themselves postured in the best, more important seats!
Jesus gives them the formula for “success” in God’s Kingdom:
· it’s to take the low place
· it’s to give preference to another
· it’s even to intentionally include those normally disenfranchised – “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind”
To live this way, God’s way is radical but it’s refreshing to the watching world! It’s every bit as refreshing as a glass of sweet tea on a hot summer day!