S (Scripture): John 5:5 A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, knowing that he had already been there a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I don’t have anyone who can put me in the water when it is stirred up. When I’m trying to get to it, someone else has gotten in ahead of me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 Immediately the man was well, and he picked up his mat and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.
10 The Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It’s the Sabbath; you aren’t allowed to carry your mat.”
11 He answered, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
O (Observation): Sabbath observances were very much a part of the Hebrew culture. Embedded in the Creation story is the Sabbath concept. To give a day of rest / a season of rest.
The Sabbath – as important as it is – became a sort of idol for the Hebrew people. Any work on Sabbath became punishable.
But here sits a person, who, for 38 years, sat by this pool. He was in need of healing. Nothing worked (to heal him) up to this point.
Now, Jesus is offering healing. He asks for consent to heal, not to assume the man’s intentions. The man desires to be healed. Jesus offers this healing – yes, healing on the Sabbath!
Not only that, but the man – now healed – picks up his mat and goes. He is doing a work!
When challenged why he was not observing the Sabbath (for he picked up his mat), the man says that the one who healed him told him to take up the mat and go.
Who does the healed man listen to? Sabbath Law or Jesus? Which brought life to the man that day? Jesus did.
Jesus is for the Sabbath, but if someone seeks new life, Jesus gives it – regardless of the day of the week. And that’s what people will follow.
A (Application): I hope people can see the Gospel as the source of our lives. We try so hard to make religion about doctrine and “what we believe” that we leave folks outside of the circle too often. We withhold grace, instead of releasing it.
I offer what Jesus offers to me: true life!
Why is that so hard to appreciate? Is the work we do bringing life to self or others? Is what we believe readily condemning others? Or inviting them into something life-giving?
We are so afraid to offer the Gospel sometimes, because we don’t know what it will lead to. Or worse, the Gospel will challenge or dispute our broadly accepted doctrine. With our doctrine firmly in place, we can get our heads around belief and understand it. We can tell someone good from evil. That supposedly brings comfort.
Yet that comfort is short-lived. For while it might feel like life to you, it certainly means death to others. Sometimes literal death.
I’m not opposed to being corrected by God or conscience, so that we might look to the Gospel again for Good News. I am opposed to us thinking we know the mind of God, and making others feel like they are not a part of this thing called God’s Kingdom.
P (Prayer): Gracious God, change our hearts and minds to follow Jesus. Amen.