Even on the Sabbath
1-6Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?”
7The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.”
8-9Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off.
9-10That day happened to be the Sabbath. The Jews stopped the healed man and said, “It’s the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll around. It’s against the rules.”
11But he told them, “The man who made me well told me to. He said, ‘Take your bedroll and start walking.'”
12-13They asked, “Who gave you the order to take it up and start walking?” But the healed man didn’t know, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd.
14A little later Jesus found him in the Temple and said, “You look wonderful! You’re well! Don’t return to a sinning life or something worse might happen.”
15-16The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. That is why the Jews were out to get Jesus—because he did this kind of thing on the Sabbath.
17But Jesus defended himself. “My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I.”
18That really set them off. The Jews were now not only out to expose him; they were out to kill him. Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was calling God his own Father, putting himself on a level with God.
Father, how many times have I made rules that kept people from doing Your work? More important, how many times have I been so worried about how things effect my position or power, that I’ve missed Your power and love? The “Jews” in this story were so worried about a man carrying his bedroll, they failed to give You glory for curing the man! They were so focused on the minutia, they missed Your awesome explosion of power and love.
Jesus, I know I can be that way. I know I can. Please, help me see the big picture. Help me see things from Your eyes. Help me look for You and Your power and Your glory. Open my mind and heart. Amen.
What the Father Does, the Son Does
19-20So Jesus explained himself at length. “I’m telling you this straight. The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing. 20-23“But you haven’t seen the half of it yet, for in the same way that the Father raises the dead and creates life, so does the Son. The Son gives life to anyone he chooses. Neither he nor the Father shuts anyone out. The Father handed all authority to judge over to the Son so that the Son will be honored equally with the Father. Anyone who dishonors the Son, dishonors the Father, for it was the Father’s decision to put the Son in the place of honor.
24“It’s urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living.
25-27“It’s urgent that you get this right: The time has arrived—I mean right now!—when dead men and women will hear the voice of the Son of God and, hearing, will come alive. Just as the Father has life in himself, he has conferred on the Son life in himself. And he has given him the authority, simply because he is the Son of Man, to decide and carry out matters of Judgment.
Jesus, You say it is urgent, and it is, so why am I not screaming Your gospel from the roof tops? Why am I so slow to reform my life? Lord, help us all to make the decision today to follow You. Open the hearts of those around me who have not chosen You. Set on fire those of us who have. Set my heart on fire. New life, every day, all the time.
28-29“Don’t act so surprised at all this. The time is coming when everyone dead and buried will hear his voice. Those who have lived the right way will walk out into a resurrection Life; those who have lived the wrong way, into a resurrection Judgment.
30-33“I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I’m not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders.
Jesus, if You, the Son of God, can live a life of such servant-hood and humility that You just follow orders, why don’t I? I know I can’t do it on my own. Help me Holy Spirit, to be a humble servant. Help me to listen to Your word and Your movement in my life and simply follow Your orders. Give me ears to hear, and the love and courage to do.
If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all. Furthermore, you all saw and heard John, and he gave expert and reliable testimony about me, didn’t he?
34-38“But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I’m speaking to you this way so that you will be saved. John was a torch, blazing and bright, and you were glad enough to dance for an hour or so in his bright light. But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John’s witness. It’s the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me. The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.
39-40“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.
Jesus, what part of You, is right in front of me, and I am not receiving it? I know I have eternal life with You, though I did nothing for it. But I also know I say I want to change, but don’t. I say I want to follow You radically, but I don’t. I sense You have so much more just waiting for me to recognize it, recognize You, and accept it, or accept You.
Jesus, really, open my eyes and heart and mind to You. I know it will require me to change. I know it will cost me some worldly stuff and worldly friends. But Lord, how can more of You not be a wonderful thing? Help me to see, and help me to change. Please, change me.
41-44“I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?
Jesus, am I jockeying for position, both at home and at work? I have been pushing for changes. Am I doing what You want me to do, or am I just trying to use circumstances to make a power grab? How can I know Lord? I do not want to ignore You. Please make Your way clear to me, and then help me to follow it. I am committed to doing Your will.
45-47“But don’t think I’m going to accuse you before my Father. Moses, in whom you put so much stock, is your accuser. If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me. If you won’t take seriously what he wrote, how can I expect you to take seriously what I speak?”
Jesus, sometimes is sure appears that life would be easier if I took Your Word with a “grain of salt”, but in reality, it wouldn’t be life at all. Help me to always take Your Word seriously. Help me to understand, and believe, and be change by Your Word. Open my heart and mind.