Readings:  Leviticus 26:21-33, 39-44 and Luke 14:1-24

 Leviticus 26:40-42:  “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against Me, and also in walking contrary to Me, so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.”

Luke 14:1-6:  One Sabbath, when [Jesus] went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching Him carefully.  And behold, there was a man before Him who had dropsy.  And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?”  But they remained silent.  Then He took him and healed him and sent him away.  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?”   And they could not reply to these things.

 

“Restored to Health”

God blessed the man with dropsy beyond measure!  Imagine having this condition, which today would be like edema, a swelling that would make the body puffed with fluid.  There wasn’t much of a cure in the days when Jesus walked the earth, so it was an interesting situation for those Pharisees. They were wondering if such a cure was available.  

But on the Sabbath?  That ran contrary to what they heard in the Torah about not working on the Sabbath, and to them, healing was work.  But wouldn’t they have considered that doing a work of healing was a merciful benefit? 

So what does Jesus do?  Since those Pharisees did not answer, Jesus proceeds to do what He was sent to do.  He showed mercy and restored this man to health.  It was no different if this man was a child or an ox that had fallen into a deep hole on the Sabbath, and help was needed, either by doing what was needed to get them out, or to bring them food for the time until the Sabbath would be over and they could “do” the work of extracting them.  Here, Jesus does the work of extracting this man from his illness.  

Healing continues even on the Sabbath Day—our Sunday as we order our calendars.  I recently read of a woman whose husband was admitted to the ICU of a hospital.  She came to the parking lot and stood by her car, looking at the hospital windows.  She saw the windows of her husband’s room.  Not only was she praying, but she was also longing to be by the bedside of her husband.  That was on a Sunday, and Mother’s Day, no less.

The surprise of this episode is that the nurses saw her by her car, and waved back to her!  She had called them on the phone to check on her husband’s condition, and she was pleased to hear his small progress.  Healing happened on the Sabbath!  Her husband was being restored to health.  (And this was non-COVID-19!)

Imagine those who do suffer with other disorders including the Coronavirus.  Did they reject God and are now suffering their ‘judgment’ on earth by suffering this disease?  Did God say, “…If they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant…”?  It would seem that they sinned and God punished with illness. 

That’s not how God works.  If we read the context, we recall that God was going to ‘visit the iniquity’ of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Him (Exodus 20:5).  God will continue to teach the law to all and show them their sins.  Illness and disease, whether we are afflicted or others surrounding us, are ways God reminds us of the consequences of sin.  That’s His holy law.  But He doesn’t use sickness to punish us.

God also shows mercy to thousands of those who love Him and keep His commandments (Exodus 20:6).  God will restore His people, just as He promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to restore the land.  And restoring the land was more than just allowing crops to grow.  It also means restoring the land to its productivity, either by crops or by people to work in safety.  

God would also desire that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:4).  He would gather all into the marriage feast.  He sends His servants to ‘work the fields’ and call people to repentance and faith, preparing them for their restoration—to receive the forgiveness of sins by faith in Jesus Christ—and be saved.  God includes you in that number, for God keeps His promises, even as He did for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Let us pray:  O Lord of grace and mercy, teach us by Your Holy Spirit to follow the example of Your Son in true humility, that we may withstand the temptations of the devil and with pure hearts and minds avoid ungodly pride.  Continue to guide us to do works of mercy, to pray for others who are afflicted with disease, and to support the work of those who do mercy on our behalf.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

 

Our Father…

The grace of the Lord + Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you.  Amen.