John 5:10-18, NIV

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so
the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the
Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat." 11 But
he replied, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Pick
up your mat and walk.'" 12 So they asked him, "Who is this
fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?"

13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for
Jesus had slipped away into the crowd. 14 Later Jesus found
him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again.
Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you."
15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus
who had made him well.

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the
Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17 Jesus said to them,
"My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too,
am working." 18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder
to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he
was even calling God his own Father, making himself
equal with God.

February 21, 2011
This poor man who had longed to be whole for 38 long years,
now on his first day walking around like a normal person is
plunged headlong into a religious controversy involving a very
basic law of Moses. The Sabbath is a day of rest and work is
forbidden. After all, God made the world in six days and himself
rested on the Sabbath! How could God's creatures think they
and their work are more vital than God's! Surely if God rested,
so can we.

And so the Sabbath rules were strictly enforced. John's account
of the healing of this unfortunate individual points out just how
absurd these traditions were. Joy and celebration were not in
the picture, neither was there room for active deeds of love and
mercy. Instead we see criticism and disputes. Which raises the
question in the mind of the reader: Is this any way to honor our
Maker who created order out of chaos and made everything
good? Are the commandments of our God so rigid that we can
not be joyful and full of gratitude for this man's good fortune?
Why must we find fault with him for carrying his mat? Would we
rather he be lying on it as he used to do at the pool of Bethesda?

Jesus made a very helpful observation about the Sabbath--God's
work is never done! Not in six days, not in seven or seventy times
seven. God is still on the job to this very day--Father, Son and
Holy Spirit; therefore, let us be glad and rejoice.

                                                                                    More journal entries

February 19, 2011
He didn't know who it was who healed him. What about the
questioners--those faultfinders? They didn't really know who
Jesus was either. They knew him as a miracle worker and a
trouble maker. But if that's all they knew, they were missing a
whole lot according to the Gospel writer.

I wish we could hear how Jesus spoke verse 14. It sounds cruel,
like Jesus is also attacking the one whom he had healed. But
I think Jesus was thinking beyond the physical miracle to a
spiritual one. Physically, the man could walk. Now, if he wanted
as great a miracle for his innermost being, then he would need
to find ways to get to know God, which would require the same
degree of diligence and fervor as he had used to get himself to
the pool of Bethesda.

January 4, 1982
This man was not healed because of his belief in Jesus. At the
time he didn't even know about Jesus. God initiated the activity
on his behalf. The reasons are not stated or even implied. There
were thousands of other people on that day who had equal
needs, but this one man received the miracle.

Jesus telling him to get up and walk sounds like a strange
command. A physical therapist would say it couldn't be done.
Unreal, unnatural, unsolicited, it was a definite miracle, a physical transformation, a dream come true. Or as Jesus indicated, a first
step. For his healing to be complete he would need to attend to
his spiritual needs as well.

January 12, 1982
Immediate turmoil. The authorities couldn't share the man's
great joy nor celebrate his miracle of healing. They were critical,
suspicious, demanding. They kept telling him he was breaking
the law of Moses, and were trying to make him feel guilty.
Whether they realized it or not, they were pushing him right back
to where he was before Jesus healed him. And to top it off, they
could show him the passage in Scripture to prove that they
were right.

Why is the truth different to different people? One Lord, one
Spirit, yet we fight with each other over who is obeying the great commandments. Whether we speak or remain silent, fight or
offer no resistance; get up and do or wait patiently for the Lord--
everyone receives a share of the criticism. How can we explain it
when one individual hears Jesus say something contrary to what
the rest of us believe? Usually we dismiss it as invalid. But in this
story, the invalid is the hero. This man had suffered from
sickness for 38 years, now he is suffering the pangs of not
conforming to the standards of his peers


January 14, 1982
Who is this man who heals the sick and leaves no identification,
no business card, not even an address for sending a thank you
note or for reporters to get a great human interest story? And
why did Jesus leave without some words of eternal life for the
man he had healed?

January 17, 1982
Later, Jesus found this man . . . Jesus seeks him out and speaks
with him. In the temple, a natural place to praise God. Was the
man offering the sacrifices prescribed by Moses for his healing and cleansing. Jesus tells him it's not the ritual but a changed life that
will save him. The healed man was seeking to do right so Jesus
gave him further instruction and aid. The Law came from Moses.
Grace and truth comes from Jesus. The law was good; Jesus took it
off paper and showed people how to live it.

"Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." Not will,
but might happen to you. That's a scare tactic, parents use it all
the time. I don't like the sound of it. When Jesus healed him
there was no mention of sin or forgiveness. How did this man
become fit without repentance?

It's a warning for the wise. In the words of the Lord's prayer--the
only fear necessary is, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver
us from the evil one."

Jesus had a way of speaking to each individual according to
their deepest need. Like all of us, this man needs to be able to
connect with God at the most sacred point of his being. Only
then will complete healing take place.

December 13, 2001

Now the man knew his healer was Jesus and when you know
something as exciting as that you want to tell people. So he went
off and found his questioners. Good News to the man was bad
news for Jesus. The unintended consequence of his truth telling
would implicate Jesus and target him for death.

There must have been a confrontation between Jesus and the
accusers because verse 17 is Jesus' response. My Father is always
at work and I follow his lead. This made the religious rulers even
more determined to kill Jesus because not only did he break the
Sabbath laws, now he had claimed God as his Father.

December 18, 2001
The complaint was working on the Sabbath. Jesus answers by
saying that he's been watching Father God; whatever he sees
God do, that's what he intends to do, too. God works on the
Sabbath just like on any other day--lavishly dishing out love,
grace and providential care.

January 20, 1983

I think Jesus deliberately did this healing on the Sabbath so that
the authorities would persecute him! Among the crowds he was
too popular for his own good.

Jesus could have waited until the day after the Sabbath. There
was little urgency in this healing. Why did he work on the Sabbath?
One of his beatitudes was, "Blessed are the peacemakers . . ."
Jesus didn't live by those words in this instance! He was stirring
up trouble. Things were not right; the way people practiced their
religion was not life-giving.

Why would he create controversy? Maybe to make people react
and then think about what they did? To show the people that
something was wrong with established religious thinking and
its practice? To stimulate thinking about what God had in mind
when he commanded us to keep the Sabbath day holy?

December 12, 2001
Later when Jesus found this man in the temple, he spoke just
one sentence--You are well once again--sin no more, lest
something worse happens to you. What to make of that
sentence??? We are taught to counsel suffering people that their
situation is not their fault. Don't blame it on yourself. At the
Worship Center it's the devil who gets blamed for illness.

Jesus spoke this sentence to one man. If it fits, apply it. But
don't conclude that everyone who is sick is being punished by
God. That would make God a tyrant.

Sin no more--don't practice sin knowingly. That is a consistent
message of Jesus, and of the Christian faith. If you want to be
healthy, engage in healthy, not destructive, habits. E. Stanley Jones
listed his 12 apostles of ill health. I have them written on the
inside cover of my Bible. On his list are: anger, resentments,
fear, worry, desire to dominate, self-preoccupation, guilt, sexual
impurity, jealousy, a lack of creative activity, inferiorities, a lack
of love. Jones advises us not to fight them; instead surrender
them to Jesus.

But then there are diseases like cancer, even in little children, for
which we have no answers. It reminds me of Jesus' response to
the tower which fell (Luke 13) and killed some people. Jesus told
his listeners to repent. Allow such tragedies to touch and question
your own soul. Because tragedies happen randomly, they could
happen to you and you must be ready and have your life in order.
The people who were killed, Jesus assured us, were not worse
sinners then all those who were not killed.

You are well again, you are alive to live another day. Repent.
Stop sinning. Be grateful. Above all, be responsive to God,
your Maker, Savior, Lover,
and Helper.

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