Human Effort

Everything Depends on God's Mercy

John 5: Relationship not Religion

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L0030441 The works of William Hogarth: The Pool of Bethesda.

Jesus continues his ministry performing miracles and his visits are the equivalent of health care for those that are broken and sick. But his purpose is not simply to heal people. The healings are used to give authority to his words. John 5 highlights this at the pool of Bethesda. This location was known to be a healing oasis for those that stepped into the water under certain circumstances. The man at the center of the narrative was not able to carry himself to the pool so for years he watched as others stepped into the pool seeking its restorative power.

5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 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?” 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.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. John 5:5-9 ESV

Healing this man should have been a cause for celebration but Jesus broke the rules by asking the man to pick up his bed on the Sabbath.

Now that day 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.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” John 5:10-11 ESV

Seems crazy to say that taking up your bed on the Sabbath day would be wrong. What did the law of Moses command?

2 Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. Exodus 35:2 ESV

Would picking up a bed be considered “work”? Who wants to take that chance if a death penalty is on the line? How does one define work? Notice how we are not talking about the sign and wonder of healing a man but of the nuance of the laws. Jesus knew he would cause issues by asking the man to pick up his bed. Jesus could have healed the man and told him to leave the bed but that is not his plan. It is here that that Jesus and the Jews begin a dialog on authority and by what authority that Jesus could break the religious rules of the day.

37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. John 5:37-38 ESV

Jesus healed the man to prove the he had the authority from God to do the things that he is doing. Jesus was proving that he had the authority to tear down the rules the Jews has created to make sure they were not breaking the laws.

44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? John 5:44 ESV

The Jews cared only about their rules and their laws even more than people. They provided power and accolades to themselves based on how well the carried out the laws and rules that they made as they went along. Jesus is God made man. Jesus is God’s solution to the problem of religion. The religious Jews took out of context the laws for Israel that God created to keep Israel inside of his perfect parameters for life. Religion is oppressive and controlling. It then is ultimately fails to save because no one can perfectly keep the rules of a religion. Jesus however is God coming to men in a relationship. God interacting with his creation is so powerful and meaningful. God is not unknown and we can know where we stand with him outside of the oppressive religious life that so many chase after.

Jesus came to fulfill the law by living it perfectly so that through him we would have life and not death and failure in the law. Have you established a relationship with Jesus who is God?

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24 ESV

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