Summary: Why did Jesus heal the man with Dropsy? Was it merely a man who happened to be there at the banquet, or was there something more?
OPEN: A teacher at a privately run church school wanted to point out to her children how they should behave when they were at church. So she started out by asking the children what kind of rules that their parents might give before taking them to a nice restaurant.
One second-grader excitedly said: “Don’t play with your food.”
A young girl raised her hand: “Don’t be loud”.
And so it was that each child gave a their answers to the teacher… except one little boy was quietly sitting in the corner and the teacher wanted to include him in the discussion: "And what rule do your parents give you before you go out to eat?" she asked.
Without batting an eye, the child replied, "Order something cheap."
APPLY: Jesus has gone out to eat. He’s been invited to the home of a very prominent Pharisee and it appears that He’s not the only one to have been invited. In fact I suspect that this meal had been planned for some time – there were many people present.
In those days, it was not uncommon for a man of prominence to have a large gathering in his home. Invitations would be sent out requesting an RSVP (seeking a reply – "are you coming?") Based on the # of replies that were received, the host knew how much food to have prepared, how much refreshment he needed to have on hand, how many tables to set up, and so on.
Luke doesn’t tell us, but it appears that Jesus may have been the guest of honor at this meal. And it also seems that many of the community’s best & brightest had come just to see this new teacher.
One might think that by attending this banquet, Jesus was taking a break from hectic schedule of teaching and preaching. BUT of course, it would be a mistake to think that. Jesus didn’t have the leisure of taking a break. As Jesus told His disciples in John 9:4 “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”
Jesus had a limited amount of time to fulfill His mission. He had just three short years from His baptism by John to His crucifixion on the cross. His time was limited and He was not about to be sidetracked by a social gathering. And so even here He is seeking to teach about the coming of his Kingdom - the Church. Even here He is seeking to help people understand what God intended to accomplish at end of the ages.
I. I want you to notice whatJesus does at this banquet. (Look at the text: Luke 14:1-2.) Of course, we know that he heals a man, but there something unusual about this healing. Do you see anywhere that this man with dropsy "asked" Jesus to be healed? No. Well, if he hadn’t come to this banquet to be healed, why did he come? Most likely, like everyone else, he was there to eat. He might have had it in his mind to approach Jesus later, in private, in the hopes that Jesus would take away his illness. But at this point, there is no indication that he was asking for this healing now.
Dropsy (known today as "edema" - symptimatic of congestive heart failure) wasn’t usually a life threatening condition – just an uncomfortable one. There was a swelling in the joints because of the retention of water. Body cavities swell and often there was a red blotchiness across the body. It’s uncomfortable and its unsightly, but it was not necessarily a serious disease. It was, however, an obvious one. Everybody in the room knew this man had “dropsy.”
This man doesn’t appear to have asked to be healed, but Jesus needed an object lesson. So this man was selected to receive the door prize at this meal. He’s going to relieved of this discomfort in his life.
Now, why should Jesus do this? Why heal a man who hasn’t asked for help? Because, beginning with this man, Jesus intends to teach this audience some very important facts about salvation and the coming Kingdom.
II. The first thing Jesus wanted to teach was that people are IMPORTANT to God.
You’d think this would be obvious. But, religious people sometimes forget this simple reality – people are important to God. Religious people sometimes get sidetracked doing “religious things,” mistakingly believing that this is what pleases God.
ILLUS: A tourist was being guided thru one of the great Cathedrals of Europe when he felt the urge to ask the guide how many people had been saved there over the past year.
The guide sniffed and replied "Sir, this is a Cathedral not a Chapel."