Working On The Sabbath

Scripture: Luke 14:1-6 NLT

1 One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching Him closely.
2 There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen.
3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?”
4 When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away.
5 Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?”
6 Again they could not answer.


Sunday dinner is a big deal to Bailey’s. It has been this way as long as I can remember. We gather somewhere for lunch after the morning worship service practically every week of the year. We are giving Big Mama a break today but usually she is our host.

Of course the Jews worshiped on Saturday, not Sunday but they had the same tradition. They ate two meals a day Sunday through Friday but three meals on the Sabbath day and the extra meal was the one following the morning service at the synagogue. So this explains what is happening here: Jesus has been invited to one of the leaders of the Pharisees, probably a member of the Sanhedrin for a Sabbath.

But there is a fly in the ointment; the Pharisee as shrewdly set a trap for Jesus. He has arranged for a man to be present who has dropsy. This is excess fluid in the tissue that the body can not get rid of; today we call it congestive heart failure. The fluid is a serious issue, it causes pain, discomfort and is fatal at some point. However, the scheme of the Pharisees backfires. [1] First, Jesus knows exactly what they are plotting and why. One of the advantages of being God is that you see men hearts. [2] These poor saps were slow learners; they intended to put Jesus on trial but He turns the table and puts them on trial.


I want to show you some things from this story that support what I just said…


If a group of people hated you and were plotting to destroy you, would you have any desire to share Sunday lunch with them? I’ll be honest, I don’t want to hang out with or eat with folks who despise me: matter of fact I would make a special effort to avoid them. Jesus knew what this group was up to and yet He excepted the invitation. My question is why? One of the commentaries I read is by a man name Norval Geldenhuys. I have no idea how to pronounce the name. He was a friend of F.F. Bruce an a awarded student at Princeton Theological Seminary. His commentary is very insightful. He believed that Jesus attended this dinner because He had not given up on the Pharisees. Jesus went home to eat with these cold and hateful people because He loved them and He did not want them to go to hell. To love someone who is out to get you takes a higher love than we humans have, it takes a love from above, agape, the divine love. Only God could love a Pharisee. Harlots and Tax Collectors were much easier to love than these self-righteous hypocrites.


The Pharisees saw Jesus compassion as a weakness. They knew His tendencies so they staged this situation, believing Jesus would show mercy and in so doing, would violate the Sabbath. Jesus did exactly what they expected, only, He first asked their opinion. “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?”

Sometimes silence can indicate innocence. Jesus was silent during his trial. So much so that Pilate was amazed. But this is not the silence of innocence. This is silence of guilt. Jesus put them on the spot. If they said, “Yes”, they would be violating the very law in question. If they said, “No,” it would make them look like cold, callous and heartless men. They sheepishly plead the 5th.

Silence is not always golden, sometimes is just plain yellow.


There is something prophetic in this story. When Jesus visited His hometown Nazareth at the beginning of His ministry, He quoted from Isaiah the prophet…

“The Spirit of the is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the ’s favor has come.

Do you see our miserable condition? We are poor, enslaved, blind and victims of injustice but the GOOD NEWS is this, JESUS is not going to leave this way. He is going to save us from sin, self, the grave and hell. He is going to save us from the penalty of sin and the misery that sin has brought upon the human race.


Jesus did not have to leave heaven’s glory to come here to planet earth. He didn’t have to be born in a cold stinking barn or born into a poor Jewish peasant family. He didn’t have to live a selfless life and He did not have to die on a Cross. At lunch this day, He didn’t have to heal the man; he didn’t even have to attend the lunch. He is God, who is going to make Him do something He doesn’t want to do.

He came here because He loves us. He lived a life of poverty because He loves us. He died on the cross because He loves us. Every thing He did was motivated by love.

He wants us to love others the way He loves us: unselfishly. How many people did Jesus heal? How many did He fed free lunches? Did these people who He helped, help Him in return. Did they love Him in return? No! He loved them because He choose to love them. He loved them without conditions. Deep down, this is the way we all want to be loved and this is how we are to love our fellowman.

The Pharisees did not love people; they loved money, seats of honor, praise of men and social status. In the coming KINGDOM, they will not have a seat because they failed the basic or acid test, they did not love people. How are you and I doing on this subject? In preparing for this sermon, I felt a strange conviction…I have failed in a thousand ways, maybe more but my greatest failure is in loving people; I am sure of it.

The Marketing Gurus say, “Every person has an invisible sign on their back that reads…Make me feel important.” Jesus saw this sign, those who are good in human relations see the sign. As soon as I read this I began to think about people who make you feel important: unfortunately, I am not on the list but I want to be, what about YOU?

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