Summary: This sermon addresses the discussion Jesus had with the Jews following the healing of the lame man on the Sabbath, and how Jesus’ words contributed greatly to their desire to kill him.
Good morning. If you have your Bibles please open up to the Gospel of John Chapter 5.16. If you haven’t been here in a while or haven’t been here at all we have been going through the Gospel of John for the past 3 months so we should be through the book about this time next year.
The book of John highlights the ministry and miracles of Jesus. Last week you may recall we discussed the miracle of Jesus’ healing at the pool of Bethesda.
Once again the pool of Bethesda was the place where people would go because they believed that they could receive some healing from that pool when the waters were stirred. We saw that there were a lot of people at the pool but for some reason Jesus zeroed in on a man who had been lame for 38 years. He went up to him and asked him: “Do you want to get well?” But instead of simply replying “yes” the man went into a series of excuses such as: “I have no one to help me when the water is stirred” or “someone gets in front of me when I attempt to make my way to the pool.”
But rather than listening to the excuses Jesus decided to perform a miracle, to pour out his grace on him right then. He said: “Get up, pick up your mat and walk!.” And so the man did just that. He got up, picked up his mat and walked. Unfortunately he walked right into a group of the Jewish elite who were not quite as excited about his new ability to walk. And they were quite annoyed that he was carrying his mat. It was the Sabbath and he was not allowed to carry his mat.
They asked him who was it that told him to carry his mat. He said that he really didn’t know who told him, that the man who healed him had slipped out of the crowd. And shortly after we see Jesus coming up to the man in the temple and he makes an interesting comment to him. He says: “See you have been healed now stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” We really don’t know how to process that or what happened to the man but we do know in the verses that follow that the man told the Jews that it was Jesus who healed him. And from that point on we see the Jews shifting their attention from the man who carried his mat on the Sabbath but the one who would dare violate the Sabbath by the healing. And that is where we pick up the story today.
Reading from John 5.16-30.
There is a lot of heavy duty scripture here and to be honest I thought about skipping past most of it. But if you have one of those red letter Bibles you see that the bulk of the scripture in today’s reading are direct quotes from Jesus, so I felt I could not simply ignore a big chunk of Jesus’ words. So I am going to attempt to go through this entire section today (although quickly), because I think it is one of the most important “speeches” of Jesus in the NT. I think it was this conversation with the Jews that ultimately led to the Jews wanting to crucify Him on the cross. That the words were so offensive to the Jews that from that point on they wanted to kill him. And you ask yourself why would anyone want to kill Jesus? We find it outline in the first few scriptures:
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5.16-18)
So in this opening passage we see that there are two charges against Jesus, the breaking of the Sabbath and the making of Himself equal with God. Let’s talk first about the breaking of the Sabbath.
The word Sabbath means “to cease” literally “to cease work”. The honoring of the Sabbath comes from the 4th Commandment, but really is grounded in the book of Genesis whereby God created the world in six days and on the seventh day he rested (i.e, ceased from work). Consequently the view is that man too should only work six days and on the seventh day he too should rest from his labor.
The command was created for the benefit of the people. So that they would not become workaholics, that they would take some rest from their labor to worship God and to enjoy his creation. But as we know the Jews tended to distort the law for the purposes of control. So much so that even something as simple as stooping down and picking up a raggedy mat would be seen as a violation of the Sabbath law. They had so twisted the law that it was even unlawful to perform a compassionate act on the Sabbath, consequently when Jesus healed on the Sabbath that too was seen as a violation of the Sabbath law.