Summary: Jesus is criticized for working on the Sabbath and claiming to be God’s Son. He responds and offers a challenge to His critics, us.
INTRO.: The healing of the crippled man at Bethesda, immediately preceding this passage, is a story of man’s helplessness and God’s power. In v. 8, Jesus tells the crippled man to do the impossible and, with God’s help, he does it.
You would expect rejoicing over the miracle, but the Jews are so blinded by their own legalism they can’t even share his joy. Instead, they criticize Jesus for telling the man to work on the Sabbath. This "work" was by their definition, a violation of the Sabbath. It was not a violation of God’s Law. Jesus would never be a party to that.
The accusations brought on the first long discourse of Jesus recorded by John. In it, Jesus speaks of His relationship to the Father and His tremendous claims.
Sometimes, people who criticize speak truth without even knowing it. The criticism of the Jews was a testimony to Jesus and His claims. Let’s see what we can learn from the criticism of the Jews and consider a challenge Jesus puts forth.
I. The first criticism: "You work on the Sabbath and encourage others to do so." 16
A. The extent of their malice is seen in 18.
1. "They sought to kill Him."
2. Their intent to kill Him is based on religious orthodoxy.
3. The Jewish leaders had interpreted the law of the Sabbath to mean no one could practice medicine or carry a burden. They defined work in 39 different classes.
4. These regulations, imposed by men, made God’s Law a terrible burden.
B. Jesus’ reply: "I follow the example and instructions of my Heavenly Father."
1. Even the Jews knew God’s activity is unceasing. He is depicted as resting from creation only.
2. The sun continues to shine, the rivers still flow, the trees continue to grow. All this is the work of God.
3. There is no Biblical prohibition against meeting human needs no matter what day it is.
4. We can hardly imagine God "putting His feet up" while the world runs itself and people suffer.
C. God constantly cares for His people:
1. Sends rain & sun every day. Matt. 5:45
2. Answers prayer 7 days a week.
3. A father may "take a day off" from work, but he doesn’t let his children starve or his home deteriorate.
II. The second criticism: "You claim to be God’s Son and (implied) you are not."
A. He did make this claim: they were right about that.
1. He claimed power to give life and they recognized this as a claim to deity.
2. They understood Him to make Himself equal with God. 18.
3. They had waited thousands of years for a Messiah, now they will not accept Him. Ironic.
B. But, His claim is the absolute truth:
1. The miracle He performed was strong evidence. Isaiah said such would be a sign of the Messianic age.
2. The miracle is a hint of His power to raise he dead.. 21.
3. It prepares them for the claim He will make in v. 28.
4. It took great courage to make these claims. He must have known it would be regarded as blasphemy and bring about His death.
C. The Father has given Jesus power to raise and judge the dead. Vv. 24-26
1. Only God has this power. The Jews knew this. II K. 5:7