16 March 2013

Luke 14:1-6

"Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him on his way." (v. 4)


This is the last in this week's series of stories highlighting miracles in Luke's Gospel, and it picks up on many of themes we've already explored. It links with yesterday's reading with its focus on what can and cannot be done on the sabbath. It contrasts the Pharisees and lawyers, respectable and powerful religious figures, with an unnamed (and probably poor) man with dropsy, an illness that has caused fluid retention and oedematous swelling, and which could be caused by heart, kidney or liver failure. It shows that Jesus' primary concern is with healing the poor man rather than keeping on the right side of the powerful and those in authority.

We often focus on the antipathy between Jesus and the Pharisees and teachers of the religious law, but relations could not have deteriorated too far yet as he is still being invited to the house of the leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal (verse 1). Even so there is an underlying sinister threat of what is to come as we are told that "they were watching him closely" (v. 1). Perhaps they have invited him to test him further following the last acrimonious meal that they had shared together (Luke 11:37-54)!

When Jesus is challenged again about healing on the sabbath, he replies using very similar arguments to those used in Luke 13:15-16. By doing so he is not suggesting that sabbath observance is not important, simply saying that actions of love and compassion such as healing should not be prohibited by rigid adherence to the law. When faced with human need Jesus encourages them and us to act immediately (verse 5). We should not to put off to another day something that can and should be done today.

To Ponder

  • Reflect again on the healing miracles in Luke's Gospel that you have read this week and remind yourself of Jesus' 'Nazareth manifesto' (Luke 4:18-19). How is Jesus "releasing the captives" through his actions?
  • How far do we put religious observance before practical social action or does the former lead to the latter?

Bible notes author

Dr Richard Vautrey

Richard Vautrey is a local preacher and church steward in Leeds, and a former vice-president of the Methodist Conference. He works as a GP, is an elected member of both the BMA council and Royal College of GPs council as well as being the deputy chair of the BMA's GP committee.