Monday June 19
The day all this happened was a sabbath. So the Judaeans confronted the man who had been healed. ‘It’s the sabbath!’ they said. ‘You shouldn’t be carrying your mattress!’
Who are the Judaeans?
These were Jews who live in the south of Israel, in Judea. Jerusalem is where the most prominent Jewish leaders reside. So, when we read about Judaeans, it is helpful to think of it as the Jews who live in Judaea, not the Jews who live in Galilee. Galileans are considered backwoods rednecks in comparison.
So, what is the problem?
The problem is the Jerusalem leaders are strict observers of the Jewish law. For instance, the original purpose of the sabbath is to highlight the seventh day as the time when God rested from his work in making the world. The law-observant Jews kept a strict day without work- defining what work includes so there would be no doubt.
The rabbis wrote commentary on the meaning of the biblical laws. These detailed accounts included what is prohibited on the Sabbath. What constitutes, “work.” There are 39 categories which are labeled “work,” connected to ancient life. So, the examples are from farming, weaving, working with leather goods, and construction.
One of the laws under the category of the sabbath law having to do with construction prohibits transferring an object from domain to domain. Carrying his mattress is a violation by the man who is healed.
So, basically, a guy who is disabled for 38 years is being called on a technicality. Instead of celebrating what happened to him, the Judaean’s are calling foul.
Are you a stickler for rules? Do you know someone who is? What is this like?
Tuesday June 20
‘Well,’ he replied, ‘the man who cured me told me to pick up my mattress and walk!’ ‘Oh, really?’ they said. ‘And who is this man, who told you to pick it up and walk?’
“The man who cured me…” This is a big deal in ancient Jewish teaching.
You see, according to Isaiah 36:6, when the Messiah comes,
“Then the lame man shall leap as a deer…”
I guess these guys ought to be mildly interested. They are witnessing a miracle only the Messiah is capable of performing, according to their prophecy.
Instead, they are more interested in their power. It is being able to show how they are right and this man is wrong. They don’t see this having to do with the power of God, they see it as about their own power, the power of their interpretation of God’s word.
Sabbath is good for us. It is the way God shows us the importance of rest and abiding with him and with the people we are closest with. God is in charge of 100% of our lives, and, on purpose, he wants us to delve deeply into why 14%, a sabbath day, is a gift from him. And also a commandment. God says, “I rest, so you rest.”
This is radically different compared to other ancient cultures. The sabbath is for everyone, servants and all, and the sabbath is even for their animals. No other religion had this rest in mind.
But, the Judaean’s aren’t looking at this as a gift. They are trying to use this commandment as a threat.
‘Oh, really?’ they said. ‘And who is this man, who told you to pick it up and walk?’
Don’t they know where the healing comes from? It looks to us that these guys are thick as bricks. I mean, if you are waiting for a Messiah since the time of Moses, about 1200 years, and then a guy comes along and tells a paralyzed guy to get up and walk…Well, who could it be, but…
Do you celebrate a sabbath? A day of rest and refreshment? A day to go deeper with the Lord?
Wednesday June 21
But the man who’d been healed didn’t know who it was. Jesus had gone away, and the place was crowded. After this Jesus found the man in the Temple. ‘Look!’ he said. ‘You’re better again! Don’t sin any more, or something worse might happen to you!’
Here are some helpful Bible verses. When God shows up in powerful ways, it may just go unnoticed. The healed man doesn’t know who Jesus is and he doesn’t even try to follow him. He doesn’t try to thank him. And Jesus doesn’t wait around until he does. Why is this helpful?
We follow Jesus and do things we think he would do if he were us, as a way of life. Not to get people to notice us. Not to have someone thank us. After all, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you are able to be used for works of power, and the same Holy Spirit also makes sure you realize it is him not you.
What happens next?
The man who is healed has the chance to go to the Temple for the first time in 38 years. If you are disabled you can’t go in the Temple, but there he is! I guess he dropped his mattress off somewhere! Jesus sees him and gives a biblical lesson in paradox. The Bible is filled with paradox. One thing is true and so is another thing that is extremely different. Jesus is God and Jesus is a man, for instance. Our works are a sign of our faith, and we are not saved by our works. The paradox we see here is about healing.
Here, Jesus connects the man’s disability with sin.
At other times, Jesus says disease and disability has nothing to do with personal sin. John 9.
As Jesus passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned…”
Here we see the paradox. Jesus is implying the disabled man was in his crippling condition because of his own sin. But, later, Jesus says the condition of the man born blind has nothing to do with anyone’s sin.
It seems some sicknesses may be related to some sins but you can’t and shouldn’t deduce the one from the other. Even when we say it is a lifestyle choice with unhealthy habits, there are plenty of people who have those same habits who are doing fine.
Have you ever thought of any challenges, any setbacks, in your own life as having a connection to not following God’s ways?
Thursday June 22
The man went off and told the Judaeans that it was Jesus who had healed him.
The healed man is a dufus. Instead of enjoying his chance to worship God at the Temple, instead of beginning his whole new life, he is more interested in ratting out Jesus. I don’t know what he expects to gain from doing back to the Judaean’s. Maybe he thinks they are still going to prosecute him for carrying the mattress.
But, consider this. Are there times when we receive a great blessing from God and we rejoice, and then we forget about giving him glory. We don’t change our lives. This is a mystery.
As a pastor over the years, I have seen a strange phenomena that connects to this. People begin to be faithful in their worship, prayer life, and other ways, really seeking God’s help in their life. And then, sure enough, they receive unusual favor from God, whether it is a great healing, getting a good job after a long unemployment, being reconciled with an estranged family member and then- boom! They fall back into a pattern of not giving God glory. Just, taking him for granted.
Don’t let this be you. Don’t ever take God for granted. How we live our live’s of faith when things are going well is a strong sign of how much we love God in the first place.
This week, find a new way to focus on God’s blessing.
Friday June 23
This was why the Judaeans began to persecute Jesus, because he did these things on the sabbath. This was Jesus’ response to them. ‘My father’, he said, ‘is going on working, and so am I!’ So for this reason the Judaeans were all the more eager to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath, but spoke of God as his own father, making himself equal to God.
‘My father,’ Israel’s God, is in the process of launching the new creation. This is taking over the old creation, including healing a sin sick world. It is time for the new creation.
You can’t expect this to be a popular point of view by the law-observant Judaeans. Jesus is meeting his sharpest resistance. As these miracles build up, their opposition will become fiercer.
People are realizing the cost of following where Jesus is pointing. These Judaen Jews become violently opposed to Jesus, especially the Jerusalem crowd, which eventually turns into plots to kill him.
So, if Jesus is bringing in healing and new creation, why is it being held up?
Jesus is meeting great resistance by the religious leaders. They suffer from the sin of having to be right. The sin of not seeing God at work how he wants to work, not how they want him to work. The Judaeans opposing Jesus are simply not ready for the new creation. In the first chapter of John we have already heard this warning.
“He came to his own, and his own didn’t accept him.”
They were not ready for the new creation, and they were not ready for the living Word to come to them with new words to say. They are stuck on what they know. This will reach its climax on the cross.
We continue to see this today.
With the resurrection, the new creation comes for the whole world. Jesus brings in God’s Kingdom and invites everyone to come in. People still react angrily to it.
You saw an example of this last week. Or maybe you didn’t. You probably didn’t hear about this because the main stream media is not going to focus on it. This is real news. Big news. Russell Vought is being vetted by the Senate to become deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Sounds pretty boring, right?
Well, during the hearing, Senator Bernie Sanders expressed his opposition to this candidate, because, are you ready for it, because he is a Christian. What makes Vought unfit for office is he believes that it is only through Jesus that a person is saved. In other words, Senator Sanders is infuriated by basic Christian teaching.
Here is what Sanders said about Jesus being the only way.
“It is indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world.”
In other words, by extension, according to Bernie Sanders’ own words, the vast majority of all members of Congress, the vast majority of all people in political office throughout the United States, all of whom are Christians, are hateful, Islamophobic, and an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world.
Bernie Sanders has no idea what he is talking about.
All religions have exclusive claims. Certainly Islam does. And even if a religion or a philosophy says there are no exclusive claims, that in and of itself, is an exclusive claim.
No, you don’t get to vote on Jesus. God is inviting all people to come to him and be part of his family. This invitation comes through Jesus. “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
Yes, God will do whatever God wants to do. I am sure God will do exactly what’s right. But, I can’t teach any other way, but Jesus. I don’t know any other way but Jesus. And I trust in Jesus as the way more than I trust a politician trying to get his way.
Yes, people still get angry about the claim that Jesus rose from the dead and rules now. Jesus is God. He is not just God for me. He is God of everyone. And everyone faces the question. Do you receive what Jesus did for you and do you trust in him to rule in your life?
God is waiting for the answer.
Be a light for Jesus this week and know he is there with you.