Luke 14:4

ESV But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away.
NIV But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.
NASB But they kept silent. And He took hold of him and healed him, and sent him away.
CSB But they kept silent. He took the man, healed him, and sent him away.
NLT When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away.
KJV And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;
NKJV But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go.

What does Luke 14:4 mean?

In this section (Luke 14:1—15:32), Jesus explains who may enter the kingdom of God. The section starts with a man who has "dropsy:" probably the severe and debilitating swelling also called "edema." The Pharisees think they can enter God's kingdom by obeying the extra-biblical rules the scribes created. That includes not treating chronic diseases on the Sabbath. Jesus knows that healing is the manifestation of the kingdom of God no matter what day it is (Isaiah 35:6).

During His ministry, Jesus does three things that the Pharisees consider unforgiveable: He declares the sins of people forgiven (Mark 2:5; Luke 7:48); He heals on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1–5; Luke 13:10–16); and He exposes the hypocrisy of religious leaders (Luke 11:17–20, 42–52). Because of these acts, they want to destroy Him (Mark 3:6; Luke 6:11; 11:53–54; John 5:16). Jesus, on the other hand, wants them to accept that YHWH (Exodus 3:15) is a loving, generous God. He does not pile on burdensome rules like they do. He will provide the rest that comes from healing on the Sabbath. He wants to forgive people.

The Pharisees don't understand Jesus' message, but they try to manipulate Him into breaking their rules. They are at a formal dinner on the Sabbath and a man with serious fluid retention is present (Luke 14:1–2). Jesus has asked them what they believe: "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?" (Luke 14:3). Normally, such a question would introduce a lively debate, but that's not the Pharisees' goal. All they need to do is wait. Jesus will heal the man, and they will have more ammunition against Him.

The text says Jesus "took" the man. The Greek for "took" often includes grabbing or otherwise touching. Leviticus 15:3–12 seems to indicate that touching such a man makes Jesus ceremonially unclean. It is not a sin to be unclean, but it is an odd choice to voluntarily become unclean at another's house while preparing to lie on their couch and eat their food.

It's interesting how Jesus protects the man by sending him away. He often protects those He heals by drawing them away from the crowd or telling them to keep their healing quiet (Mark 1:43–44; 7:33; 8:23; Luke 8:51, 56). On the other hand, sometimes He draws attention to healing (Luke 8:45; 13:12). Which He chooses depends on the situation and His goal.
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