God’s Guiding Word: Love
John 5:1–18: Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath. This action angers the Jewish authorities, who are now determined to kill him. The man who had been healed is upbraided by the Jewish authorities for carrying his mat, since carrying one’s bedding on the Sabbath was considered work and thus against the Law. Jesus challenges the authorities on their interpretation of the Law.
5 After this, Jesus went to Jerusalem for a religious festival. 2 Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool with five porches; in Hebrew it is called Bethzatha. 3 A large crowd of sick people were lying on the porches—the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed. 4 5 A man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 Jesus saw him lying there, and he knew that the man had been sick for such a long time; so he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 The sick man answered, “Sir, I don’t have anyone here to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am trying to get in, somebody else gets there first.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.” 9 Immediately the man got well; he picked up his mat and started walking.
The day this happened was a Sabbath, 10 so the Jewish authorities told the man who had been healed, “This is a Sabbath, and it is against our Law for you to carry your mat.”
11 He answered, “The man who made me well told me to pick up my mat and walk.”
12 They asked him, “Who is the man who told you to do this?”
13 But the man who had been healed did not know who Jesus was, for there was a crowd in that place, and Jesus had slipped away.
14 Afterward, Jesus found him in the Temple and said, “Listen, you are well now; so stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
15 Then the man left and told the Jewish authorities that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 So they began to persecute Jesus, because he had done this healing on a Sabbath. 17 Jesus answered them, “My Father is always working, and I too must work.”
18 This saying made the Jewish authorities all the more determined to kill him; not only had he broken the Sabbath law, but he had said that God was his own Father and in this way had made himself equal with God.
Today’s Key Verse: John 5:17
Jesus answered them, “My Father is always working, and I too must work.”
The pool mentioned in today’s reading was just north of the Temple area. It was believed that the first sick person to go into the pool after the water was stirred up would be healed. What did Jesus say to the man who wanted to be healed (verse 8)? How did Jesus’s response to the Jewish authorities challenge the Law that forbids working on the Sabbath verse 17)? (Note the play on the word “work” in this verse.) What does this verse teach you about God? What angered the Jewish authorities (verse 18)?
Lord Jesus, open my ears and my heart to hear your voice, and teach me to be obedient to your will. Help me when I am weak and tempted to sin, and remind me that you are “always working,” ready to reach out to me in mercy and love. Amen.
John 5:19–47: Jesus responds to those who challenge his authority.