It is interesting to notice that, in reality, Christ is always in control. Here Jesus takes the initiative to direct the argument to provide Him the opportunity to teach the truth and glorify God. He asks the question first, not the Pharisees. As had happened before, His questions are so clearly and cleverly stated that His adversaries find themselves unable to answer. They cannot answer Him truthfully, or even at all, for fear that they will condemn themselves for what they are—unloving, self-seeking hypocrites (Luke 14:6). Being publically silenced and humiliated only irritates them more, and so they anxiously wait for another opportunity (Matthew 12:14).
The wisdom from above that Jesus exhibits is obvious (James 3:17), and His approach, straightforward. He opens the subject for discussion Himself, anticipates any and all objections from His antagonists, and with a simple direct question, appeals to their conscience, love, and professed beliefs (Luke 14:3). Overmatched, “they [can] not answer Him regarding these things” (verse 6).
Whenever people reject Christ, as these Pharisees and lawyers do, they have trouble knowing and recognizing the obvious in important areas of life, especially the spiritual area. Today, many people like this demonstrate an inability to answer simple but important questions like, for instance, “Where do we find true fulfillment in life?” This shows the great need in our society for people to accept Jesus Christ, not more legislation or other government programs.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Man With Dropsy
This is the famous "ox in the ditch" example. "Ditch" is incorrect; "pit" is correct. It is virtually impossible for an ox or an ass to fall into a ditch. They have four legs, four hooves, making among the most stable and sure-footed of all domesticated animals. Man has two legs, and how many times do we fall in a ditch? Almost never, and an ox or an ass will hardly ever fall into a ditch either.
But they did occasionally fall in a pit. He is specifically speaking about a cistern, which caught rainwater and stored it in the ground. People occasionally, carelessly, left the lid off the cistern, and a person or an ox or ass would step into the hole and fall into the pit. Sometimes it was a life-or-death situation, because the cistern might be full of water many feet deep.
The chances, then, of an ox or an ass falling into a pit are probably about as good as seeing a blue moon. It just does not happen all that often. This examle, of course, applies in principle to emergency situations that might arise on the Sabbath. True emergencies do not happen all that often either. They occur every once in a while.
If somebody comes to us with what they claim is an emergency, we must make the decision as to whether it is an emergency or not. We must not let them bulldoze us, because often the "emergency" will be something like, "I forgot to buy sugar yesterday when I went shopping, and now I need to go to the store." There is a big difference between that and, "My son just fell out of the apple tree and broke his arm." One is a genuine emergency, the other is merely an inconvenience.
If we do any old thing just because somebody else decides it is an emergency, there will not be any witness made, is there? We will be making no witness that we are keeping the Sabbath holy. In addition, we are showing God that we will probably be a weak king because we will let any special-interest group just bulldoze us into doing what they want. So we need to decide whether the situation will be resolved the way they want or the way we—and God—want.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 5)
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