Recently I penned a series of post on the Ten Commandments and as I was writing it, found that the Sabbath day was the only commandment not reapplied to believers in the New Testament.
In writing that series of posts, I was reminded that the Sabbath day was one of the main irritants between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees.
During one of our home studies a few months back, a brother started to see that I “trivialized” the sabbath, and we chatted about how Christians “esteem one day as better than another while another esteems all days alike” He readily admits coming from a sabbatarian background and we had a good discussion. I mentioned that I see Jesus as the Christian’s sabbath, and that seemed to take him aback somewhat.. I challenged him to study Hebrews 4 and get back to me.
I started this series of post with a passage out of John 5, and I thought it fitting if we return to it as our final passage. It is, in my opinion, the most jarring statement in the New Testament in relation to Jesus’s relationship to the Sabbath.
Let’s see how the sabbath (or Jesus) becomes a tripping stone for some in the following passage
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.
3 In these lay a multitude of invalids–blind, lame, and paralyzed.
5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
Thirty-eight years an invalid.
I assume this man had been born an invalid.
No matter, since this man showed evidence of permanent incapacity.
6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”
Why ask that question? Is it not obvious?
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes I do not want help – I just wanna sit in my puddle of sobs and be left alone in my pity.
I have nothing compared to this poor soul, so imagine how easy after 38 years of suffering a beggars life, to give up and become callous to any who ask foolish questions.
Some folks don’t want help. This fella hadn’t given up yet. Desperate, but still a sliver of hope. Kinda respect that.
7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
It seemed he came to the pool, hoping against hope to get to the pool. Remember, he is not blind or deaf, or simply has a withered hand, but he is an “established” invalid. What type of hopeless situation was this man living in? All his competitors (other suffering souls at the pool) for the rare time, if any, that the pool was “stirred up” easily could get to the pool. This man simply had to watch all his hopes being taken away from him.
Such an hopeless situation.
8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”
A simple command from God Almighty. Will the invalid do what has never been able to do? Current circumstances and all appearances yell that it would be foolish to try.
Except for that Word that came from this teacher. How audacious for Him to simply command a cripple to do the impossible. How cruel, if but…
9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.
At once the man was healed. He who once was a burden, became a burden bearer, carrying his own mat.
Oh and by the way, it was the Sabbath!
10 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.”
Here we go again.
Will this controversy never let up? This poor man just had to have some trouble on this most glorious day of being rescued from his crippling condition for over 38 years! And who but some religious folk to rain on this man’s parade (that he could actually take part in now that he can walk!)
11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.'”
Just being a good witness. Tell what you know. Nothing more, nothing less.
12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?”
13 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.
It is a telling statement that the man didn’t “know” who healed him. Granted, it was early in the Lord’s ministry (aprox. 12 months) and Jesus face may not be on the wanted posters around Jerusalem yet.
Beyond that, the Lord didn’t seem to advertise Himself. A number of times, it seems He does a miracle and slips away. Almost like doing miracles was not that miraculous for Him.
He is so altogether different than us!
14 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.”
Was the man in the temple because the Jews dragged him there or was he there worshiping God? Don’t know, but Jesus gave this man a warning similar to the woman condemned of adultery.
15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.
In my mind this man went from a fella I respected for the hope he held onto, to a man who became a tattle tale. Is that a fair assessment? Not sure.
Could this act of tattling to the Jews be considered the sin Jesus was warning about? I will leave that question for my reader.
16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.
17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
Is Jesus initiating a discussion with the Jews? Is He gonna get into it?
By golly, this one is gonna be a slugfest!
He stated His Father was working with Him in context of the Sabbath!
Verse 17 is only ten words, but ten more explosive words may not have been uttered!
18 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.
My friend, consider Jesus, who being equal with God, has become our resting place, or Sabbath.
Look to the Lord and let the day fade. He is worthy.
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