This week we are going to study John 5:9-18, so let’s read the passage, “And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”
The Jewish Outcry
This week, we are going to look at what happened after the healing at the pool of Bethesda when the religious leaders got involved and the man found out who healed Him. Last week we saw that Jesus went to the pool and healed an invalid who had been there for a long time. Jesus told him to take up his bed and walk. This is what made the religious leaders mad, because it was the Sabbath. The reason it made them mad was because under Jewish law the Israelites were told not to work on the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3, Leviticus 23:3). The Jews told the man that it was not lawful for him to take up his bed, because it was the Sabbath. What this disagreement really comes back to was, not a matter of the law, but a matter of authority, it was about who had power, the Pharisees or Jesus. But the Pharisees did not know that it was Jesus yet, because when Jesus healed the man a crowd gathered and Jesus withdrew from them. So the man did not even know who healed him. But, let’s think about the law of the Sabbath because the Bible does not tell us not to do anything on the Sabbath, but it says not to work on the Sabbath.
Woe to the Pharisees
See the Pharisees and scribes had added to the law and had made the rest of the law a heavy burden. Jesus’ words on this matter are perfect, He said “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,” Matthew 23:2-5 Jesus says that the Pharisees were to be respected and obeyed but they were also hypocrites and that everything they did was to be seen by others instead of being out of a love for God. Instead of doing things out of a love for God, I sometimes find myself doing it to be seen by others. It is such an easy pattern to find yourself in this rut, a great way to get out of it is to get alone with God by praying and reading your Bible and not talk about it or let others know what you are doing. One account I think is good to consider when looking at this supposed breaking of the law is the Israelites marching around Jericho. They marched around Jericho for seven days straight, therefore one of those days would have been the Sabbath, it says that God commanded the priest to carry the Ark of the Covenant. But yet the priest had no problem with this back then even though the Ark would have been roughly 615 pounds, which means that each priest would have carried approximately 160 pounds. But the Jews now thought that picking up a bed (beds back then were more like thick exercise mats) which would have maybe weighed a pound or two was against that law making the Sabbath law more of a burden instead of a blessing.
Not a Burden but a Blessing
See God did not intend for the law to be a burden but a blessing to those who obey them. In fact, most of the Biblical laws fell into one of three categories: the first covers your relationship with God, the second is about how to treat others, and the third was laws to protect the community. Next time you find yourself in the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) look at the Jewish laws and see if the laws do not fall into one of those three categories. See, everything God commanded was not to keep us from doing things, but to keep us safe and keep us in a relationship with Him and others. We may not always understand some of these laws or commands, but we have to understand that God stands outside of time and His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8).
Sins have Consequences
We see that later Jesus finds the man in the temple, after the Pharisees have questioned him. Jesus told him to go and sin no more. Many scholars think that the reason Jesus said this was that the man had been disable for a long time and therefore was not able to do certain sins and needed to be reminded not to sin. Jesus said, “sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you”. Many people do not realize that just because Jesus took the eternal penalty for our sins on Himself that there are still earthly consequences for our sins (Hebrews 12:3-11). Because whether we realize it or not all of our sins have penalties. The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The bad news is that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But, the good news is that Jesus came and died for your sins, so that you could be with Him forever. If you would like to accept Him as Lord and Savior of you life all you have to do is to admit that you are a sinner, repent of your sins (repent means turn away), believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and God raised Him from the dead, then confess Him as Lord and Savior of your life (Romans 10:9).
The Jews Seek to Kill Jesus
We see that after Jesus finished talking to the man, the man went and told the Jews that it was Jesus who healed him. This was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was healing on the Sabbath. We see that the Jews heard Jesus say that until now His Father is working, but now He is working. This was why they were seeking to kill Him, because they thought He was breaking the Sabbath and He was calling Himself equal with God. One day they would kill Jesus, but only because He allowed them to, allowing you to be with Him forever. So, this week know that everything in the law that God has given us was not to hold us back, but it was for our good, because He loves and wants to protect us and have a relationship with us. Also know that Jesus wants to start that relationship with you today. This week spend time in the Word of God, not so you can tell others you did, in order to puff yourself up like the Pharisees, but because you love God and want to grow in your relationship with Him.