Summary: Today, I want to tell the story… the story of three people – Jesus, the miracle-worker, the religious leaders, and a diseased man. And you’ll see two emotional reactions for us and we’ll see two life lessons. Along with way, I’ll even share with you one of Grimm’s fairy tales.
When people talk about miracles, they typically think of healing miracles. One day the tumor is there; the next day, it’s no longer. Someone prays for a blind man and he regains his sight. Miracles are supernatural events that offer hope and healing to people in need.
We started a series on Miracles on Easter with the resurrection. We are exploring a series of four miracles that Jesus over the course of these four weeks. But today, I want to tell you a story straight from the Gospel of Luke that I’m calling “When a Miracle Makes You Mad.” Instead of celebration and leaping, the miracle Jesus performs leaves people silent in fuming.
Let’s jump right into today’s story…
One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. 2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. 5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they could not reply to these things.” (Luke 14:1-6)
When a miracle makes you mad. It’s so odd just to say those words, “Mad at a miracle.” I’ve prayed for miracles thousands of times to happen and nothing happened. My friends suffered. Good people went throughout life hurting. Or worse, some close friends even died. Miracles don’t automatically happen because you follow Christ and they don’t always happen when we ask God for His favor. The people in this story were mad because Jesus performed a miracle. But in our day, we are often angry because He doesn’t perform a miracle.
Today, I want to tell the story… the story of three people – Jesus, the miracle-worker, the religious leaders, and a diseased man. And you’ll see two emotional reactions for us and we’ll see two life lessons. Along with way, I’ll even share with you one of Grimm’s fairy tales ?.
The Main Characters
It was a common practice in Jesus’ day to invite someone over for dinner after the synagogue service. And one of the leaders of the Pharisees has Jesus over for dinner at his home. Now, this is one of five miracles that Jesus does on the Sabbath. And it’s important to note that the meal would have been prepared the day before because no cooking was permitted on the Sabbath. The mood is anything but relaxed. The Pharisees have a close eye on Jesus. In addition to Jesus and the Pharisees was a man with dropsy. Dropsy is an old description of simply someone who had fluid building up in their body. The fluid could be in the abdomen area or around the chest. The person eating with Jesus could have been suffering from heart failure or kidney serious – it was serious. And it’s here that things get interesting. But let’s back up for a moment.
What is the Sabbath? The Sabbath was a day of worship and rest. One day every week, God told His people to reserve a day for worship and rest. It was a special day set aside. God Himself rested during the seven days of Creation (Genesis 2:2-3). He also included the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments. God promised tremendous blessing to those who kept the Sabbath (Isaiah 56:2, 6; 58:13-14)
Breaking the Sabbath was big deal for the people of ancient Israel. Anyone intentionally breaking the Sabbath was to be put to death (Exodus 31:14-15; 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36). An example of this was when God’s miracle of giving manna and quail to the people of Israel. They had left Egypt and were on their way to their permanent home. They were traveling in the desert when God literally dropped manna and quail down from the skies to feed them (Exodus 16; Numbers 11). God told them not to collect manna or quail on the Sabbath but to collect enough the day before to last them for two days. The Old Testament specifically mentions four types of work that you weren’t allowed to do on the Sabbath:
WORK PROHIBITED ON THE SABBATH
Kindling a fire Exodus 35:3
Gathering manna Exodus 16:23–29
Selling goods Nehemiah 10:31; 13:15–22
Bearing burdens Jeremiah 17:19–27
Jesus and the Sabbath
The Gospel of Luke tells us it was Jesus’ custom to be in the synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16, 31; 13:10). Remember the female followers of Jesus even broke off preparing Jesus’ dead body after the crucifixion until after the Sabbath was over (Luke 23:54, 56). Luke says it so elegantly and efficiently when it notes that the people didn’t come to Jesus for healing until the sun went down on the Sabbath (Luke 4:40-41; Mark 1:32-34). Everyone religiously observed the Sabbath in Jesus’ day so much so that people knew not to bother Jesus no matter how bad they hurt until the sun went down. Or, until the Sabbath was over. Sounds Simple… What Is the Controversy? Someone has counted up the commands of the Old Testament and discovered they were 613 commandments in total. By the time these preachers of Jesus’ day were finished, they had expanded this to approximately 6,000 rules. For every rule God laid down in the Old Testament, the religious leaders of Israel had essentially made nine more. The ordinary person couldn’t tell what was from God and what was manmade.