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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, 2011This 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, 2011He 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, 1982This 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, 1982Immediate 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, 1982Who 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, 1982Later, 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, 2001The 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, 2001Later 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.