Summary: The charges against Jesus ranged all the way from being demon-possessed to being a mere man. Jesus’ answer to all these charges against Him was perceptive.
Tonight’s passage is a difficult one to break down and try to explain. Jesus has gone to Jerusalem and in verse 14 from last week Jesus has stepped up in public at the temple and began to preach. What we have been looking at the last two studies are the reactions to Jesus’ claims. We looked at the reaction of Jesus’ half-brothers, and last week we looked at the reaction of the Jewish crowd. Tonight we look at the reaction of all the people—the pilgrims and the local residents of Jerusalem.
The charges against Jesus ranged all the way from being demon-possessed to being a mere man. Jesus’ answer to all these charges against Him was perceptive.
The charge we see right away from these people was that Jesus was demon-possessed and insane. Let’s pick up our story by backing up one verse from last week’s study. READ vv. 19-24.
This charge was primarily by the pilgrims—those who had traveled in from other areas to observe the Feast of Tabernacles—not by the local residents of Jerusalem. The local residents will speak up in the next passage.
These pilgrims were the people who didn’t know Jesus very well. They had come from all over the world, so they didn’t know as much about Jesus, which made it easier to charge Him with being demon-possessed. To them, this man, Jesus, was acting mad or insane.
Al they saw was a man opposing:
• The religious establishment, the religious leaders.
• The religion that had proven itself for generations.
• The religion that contributed so much to society and the nation.
• The religion that was founded by the forefathers, the most godly leaders of history.
From their viewpoint, only an evil man or a man filled with an evil spirit would have opposed such a religion, so Jesus must be insane. As they stood and listened to Jesus, someone they didn’t know much about, they must have thought his mind was deranged, running wild with the imagination that people were out to get Him. Surely He must have been controlled by an evil spirit.
These pilgrims thought their religious leaders could do little if any evil. They thought their religious leaders would never harm anyone, or be unjust or immoral. They thought the religious leaders would never react against anyone or do any unholy thing. So how can this ordinary man, Jesus, say they are trying to kill Him?
Thought: Some people think religious leaders can do no wrong. (Except, ya’ll, and you know better.) But religion and religious leaders can be wrong just as any establishment or anyone else can be wrong. No one is exempt from failing or falling, coming short and sinning.
Jesus came to point out this misconception, to correct it and forgive, and to pass judgment upon those who wouldn’t repent or receive God’s forgiveness and be corrected.
Here’s another thought: A person’s choice or decision should be made for Jesus Christ and not for religion and religious leaders. Christ is the truth, not religion or its leaders. Religion and religious leaders are supposed to follow Christ just like everybody else. We’re not above that. Christ is the Lord and Master, not religion or religious leaders.
Jesus answered these pilgrims by mentioning the great work He had just done. He was speaking of His healing the crippled man by the pool of Bethsaida. This was the man that had been crippled for 38 years, and the people had marveled at the power of Jesus. (Jn. 5:1) (That study was Sept. 13, 2009).
You might remember that the problem was that Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, which was considered work, and working on the Sabbath was strictly forbidden. It was a serious offense in the minds of the Jews because they felt that it taught the people to break the law. They couldn’t allow that because they felt that their religion is what held the nation together.
The point is this. Jesus said that He wasn’t evil; He wasn’t demon-possessed or insane. Doing good proves whether a man is full of evil or full of good. His work of healing the crippled man was a good work not an evil work. His healing did as much good as the religious leaders who circumcised on the Sabbath day. Let’s break this down.
1. The religious leaders criticized Jesus for healing the crippled man on the Sabbath, and it was for this work and other so-called law-breaking deeds that they were opposing Him, even plotting to kill Him.
2. Jesus wanted all men, even the religionists, to see the truth. He wasn’t a law-breaker or an evil man. He wasn’t out to destroy men and nations. He was the Son of God who had come to save men and nations and to correct and set religion straight.