In this passage of story we find,
I. That the Son of man came eating and drinking, conversing familiarly with all sorts of people; not declining the society of publicans, though they were of ill fame, nor of Pharisees, though they bore him ill will, but accepting the friendly invitations both of the one and the other, that, if possible, he might do good to both. Here he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees, a ruler, it may be, and a magistrate in his country, to eat bread on the sabbath day, Luke 14:1. See how favourable God is to us, that he allows us time, even on his own day, for bodily refreshments; and how careful we should be not to abuse that liberty, or turn it into licentiousness. Christ went only to eat bread, to take such refreshment as was necessary on the sabbath day. Our sabbath meals must, with a particular care, be guarded against all manner of excess. On sabbath days we must do as Moses and Jethro did, eat bread before God (Exod. 18:12), and, as is said of the primitive Christians, on the Lord’s day, must eat and drink as those that must pray again before we go to rest, that we may not be unfit for that.
II. That he went about doing good. Wherever he came he sought opportunities to do good, and not only improved those that fell in his way. Here was a certain man before him who had the dropsy, Luke 14:2. We do not find that he offered himself, or that his friends offered him to be Christ’s patient, but Christ prevented him with the blessings of his goodness, and before he called he answered him. Note, It is a happy thing to be where Christ is, to be present before him, though we be not presented to him. This man had the dropsy, it is probable, in a high degree, and appeared much swoln with it; probably he was some relation of the Pharisee’s, that now lodged in his house, which is more likely than that he should be an invited guest at the table.
III. That he endured the contradiction of sinners against himself: They watched him, Luke 14:1. The Pharisee that invited him, it should seem, did it with a design to pick some quarrel with him; if it were so, Christ knew it, and yet went, for he knew himself a match for the most subtle of them, and knew how to order his steps with an eye to his observers. Those that are watched had need to be wary. It is, as Dr. Hammond observes, contrary to all laws of hospitality to seek advantage against one that you invited to be your guest, for such a one you have taken under your protection. These lawyers and Pharisees, like the fowler that lies in wait to ensnare the birds, held their peace, and acted very silently. When Christ asked them whether they thought it lawful to heal on the sabbath day (and herein he is said to answer them, for it was an answer to their thoughts, and thoughts are words to Jesus Christ), they would say neither yea nor nay, for their design was to inform against him, not to be informed by him. They would not say it was lawful to heal, for then they would preclude themselves from imputing it to him as a crime; and yet the thing was so plain and self-evident that they could not for shame say it was not lawful. Note, Good men have often been persecuted for doing that which even their persecutors, if they would but give their consciences leave to speak out, could not but own to be lawful and good. Many a good work Christ did, for which they cast stones at him and his name.
IV. That Christ would not be hindered from doing good by the opposition and contradiction of sinners. He took him, and healed him, and let him go, Luke 14:4. Perhaps he took him aside into another room, and healed him there, because he would neither proclaim himself, such was his humility, nor provoke his adversaries, such was his wisdom, his meekness of wisdom. Note, Though we must not be driven off from our duty by the malice of our enemies, yet we should order the circumstances of it so as to make it the least offensive. Or, He took him, that is, he laid hands on him, to cure him; epilabomenos, complexus—he embraced him, took him in his arms, big and unwieldy as he was (for so dropsical people generally are), and reduced him to shape. The cure of a dropsy, as much as any disease, one would think, should be gradual; yet Christ cured even that disease, perfectly cured it, in a moment. He then let him go, lest the Pharisees should fall upon him for being healed, though he was purely passive; for what absurdities would not such men as they were be guilty of?
V. That our Lord Jesus did nothing but what he could justify, to the conviction and confusion of those that quarrelled with him, Luke 14:5, 6. He still answered their thoughts, and made them hold their peace for shame who before held their peace for subtlety, by an appeal to their own practice, as he had been used to do upon such occasions, that he might show them how in condemning him they condemned themselves: which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, by accident, and will not pull him out on the sabbath day, and that straightway, not deferring it till the sabbath be over, lest it perish? Observe, It is not so much out of compassion to the poor creature that they do it as a concern for their own interest. It is their own ox, and their own ass, that is worth money, and they will dispense with the law of the sabbath for the saving of. Now this was an evidence of their hypocrisy, and that it was not out of any real regard to the sabbath that they found fault with Christ for healing on the sabbath day (that was only the pretence), but really because they were angry at the miraculous good works which Christ wrought, and the proof he thereby gave of his divine mission, and the interest he thereby gained among the people. Many can easily dispense with that, for their own interest, which they cannot dispense with for God’s glory and the good of their brethren. This question silenced them: They could not answer him again to these things, Luke 14:6. Christ will be justified when he speaks, and every mouth must be stopped before him.