Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God that he has given us clear direction in His Word as to what we are to believe and how we are to live. Praise God that, with the daily help of God the Holy Spirit, we can know and apply this truth to our lives and enjoy blessing, even in the face of opposition.
Acknowledge the sin of living too much based on what you think, regardless of what God commands. Pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to continue developing a biblical mindset.
Please ask for the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Luke 14:1-6
Silence reigns in the presence of truth!
V1. One Sabbath.
Another day, another meal, another challenge. Jesus' life seems to have been a constant battle at times. A battle against the spiritual forces of evil as they presented themselves frequently in both the physical opposition, through people with varying demonically induced ailments, and the verbal opposition of the Pharisees, born of heart-hatred. It is an indication that even the Son of Man experienced in his sinless life what the Psalmist writes in Psalm 90 about the span of our lives being as but “toil and trouble”. It is because he lived as we lived, without sin, that Christ can be both our 'substitute' and our example.
It is the Sabbath day; Jesus has been invited to the home of one of the 'rulers of the Pharisees'. It seems that the Sabbath day gave an opportunity for the Pharisees, after the synagogue meeting, to get together in one of their homes to share in a meal and talk about the law, their lives, the community, etc. On this occasion, Jesus has been invited along, something that seems to have happened often. And as usual, those gathered are watching Jesus. “Watching” means that they are scrutinizing everything he is saying and doing, to see if they can 'catch' him in some infringement of their rabbinical laws. What a way to have to live your life, where everything you say and do is intensely analyzed. Such challenges tend to come our way infrequently, and when they do, we often resort to a defensive posture. Maybe we are separated from the world too much, that is, outside of our jobs. J.C. Ryle writes, "We ought not to withdraw entirely from all communion with unconverted people. It would be cowardice and indolence to do so, even if it were possible. It would shut us out from many opportunities of doing good. But we ought to go into their society moderately, watchfully, and prayerfully, and with a firm resolution to carry our Master and our Master's business with us."
Again, as often happens at these events, someone suddenly appears. Some commentators think that this man was a 'plant'. Someone brought in by the Pharisees to test Jesus deliberately. The fact that the term, “And behold” used here, introduced similar previous encounters and those individuals weren't considered 'plants', shows that this man, like others, just came to see Jesus in the hope that he might heal him of his dropsy. (Dropsy is known today as Edema. It is usually swelling in the legs, feet, or ankles, but it can also be in other parts of the body, caused by fluid retention.)
V3. A question asked.
We read that 'Jesus responding' or answering says.... But are you, like me, thinking, 'we didn't hear the question'? Is that because there wasn't one? Is Jesus answering what he knows they will be thinking? If that is the case, and it seems probable, then Jesus is going on the offensive. He is not sitting back, waiting for the veiled, subtle, but menacing challenge to materialize. His attitude begs the question of you and I – are we too reluctant, too hesitant to engage, even when we know what is coming? Why is that the case? Is it fear of being misunderstood, or losing reputation? Sometimes we just need to grasp the nettle and do the right thing. We need to set aside our fear, step in, and state the obvious, even if it is direct and challenging. The world is not slow to do so. We should not confuse biblical meekness, submission to God's loving rule, with human fear.
The question Jesus asks, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” is kindergarten stuff for these men. This wasn't something that needed to be discussed and debated, and a consensus sought. There wasn't a man reclining at the table who couldn't have answered that question in the blink of an eye. Yet what do we read? "they remained silent." The term is stronger than just silent; the silence was deafening. There's no mumbling of some sort of a response, not even a whisper. Nothing! Not even the casting of glances around the room. I wonder how long Jesus waited before he responded to his own question.
V4. Jesus heals and sends the man away.
Jesus, Luke tells us, takes physical hold of the man and heals him. Deeds always speak louder than words, and no one in the room could misinterpret this deed. Jesus couldn't have said it any more clearly – 'it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath'. Of course, they were of the view, following rabbinical regulations, that it was not.
Jesus, out of love for the man, sends him away. Remember the rebuke, the synagogue leader in Luke 13, issued to the people after Jesus had healed the woman who had been disabled by a demon for eighteen years. Jesus wasn't going to expose this man to the possibility of a similar retort. So, he protects him by telling him to leave. See how Jesus not only cares for the body, but thoughtfully so for the person as well. What a Saviour we have.
He then turns his attention back to the men in the room, none of whom have breathed a word. In Luke 13:15, Jesus argued from the 'lesser to the greater', i.e., 'if this is how you treat a donkey needing a drink on the Sabbath, then why should this woman not be healed on the Sabbath. Is human life not more important than that of an animal?' In this situation, he takes a different tack. One founded on the Divine command to love our neighbour as ourselves, something these men would have been taught from childhood, Leviticus 19:18. The point is clear – 'what you would do immediately for your son or an animal on the Sabbath, you should likewise be doing for your neighbour in genuine need'.
V5. Silence reigns
Again, to this simple reasoning founded on Scriptural truth, there is silence. For men who loved to talk, discuss, and debate, this was a unique and strange evening. But it shows what can be achieved when a clear understanding of what God says, including its implications, is allied with a fearless willingness to apply it, even in the most hostile environments.
I wonder, and I challenge myself with, as I always do when writing this or preaching, first, do we know the Word of God enough to be able to speak to such issues, and if not, why not? And second, do we know the implications arising from what God says enough to speak to these issues with sufficient fearless authority that will leave the haters of Christ silent, even if they say a lot of words in the process of responding?
Sing with joy in our heart to the Lord.
Psalm 84B - Link to the words. Link to it being sung.
Store up the Word in your heart.
Romans 1:16-17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed, from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 100 - What does the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
Answer - The preface of the Lord’s Prayer (which is, Our Father in heaven) teaches us firstly to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence as children to a father able and ready to help us; and secondly, that we should pray with and for others.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God for giving us the truth. Pray for a growing knowledge of it, that we might speak it with lovely boldness.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC