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Luke 14:1-6 – Healing a man with dropsy was confronting

One Sabbath Jesus went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees. The Sabbath is a holy day and a ruler of the Pharisees would be careful to make sure everything was ritually clean. Surprisingly, out of nowhere, a man with dropsy appears having swollen limbs and tissue resulting from excess bodily fluids. This man, according to Leviticus 15, with his inability to eliminate blocked bodily fluids, would be considered ritually unclean. While a person with leprosy was considered to have been stricken by God for transgressing ritual holiness, a person with dropsy was generally considered to have been stricken by God for having been sensually immoral.

What is he doing in the house of a ritually clean ruler of the Pharisees? It seems like it is a set up. Notice how the text says that the Pharisees “were watching him carefully”. Presumably to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.

Their secret intrigue is exposed by Jesus’ clear statement: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” To this question they remain silent.

Jesus takes hold of the man which ordinarily would render a person unclean, except here Jesus transfers his cleanness to the man as he makes him whole again. Where it says that Jesus “sent him away”, the Greek says that Jesus “loosed/released” him. The Sabbath celebrated Israel’s being loosed/released from bondage in Egypt. Thus, Jesus is fulfilling the Sabbath by bringing the man rest and is doing an Exodus-like work. As a person would save a son or ox fallen into a well on the Sabbath, likewise, Jesus’ action is appropriate.

Jesus makes clean and releases from bondage c.f. the Sabbath healing in Luke 13:10-17 which also relates to Sabbath, being loosed/released and references to oxen.