Listen to Jesus or the Pharisees?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 King 24-25; John 5:1-24

After this there was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.In Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate in the north city wall is a pool with the Aramaic name Bethsaida. It had five covered porches, and a crowd of people who were sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed sat there. A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, knowing that he had already been there a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

The sick man answered him, “Sir, I don’t have anyone who can put me in the water when it is stirred up. When I’m trying to get to it, someone else has gotten in ahead of me.”

Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Immediately the man was well, and he picked up his mat and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.

10 The Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It’s the Sabbath; you aren’t allowed to carry your mat.” (John 5:1-10, Common English Bible).

I get it. The Pharisees didn’t want anyone working on the Sabbath. But, if one of you can explain this to me, it would really help me out. The old ox in the ditch argument was alive and well in First-century Palestine. If there were some kind of emergency, working was OK. But then, there is the guy who had been sick for 38 years and Jesus healed him (they didn’t like that to start with) and he gets into trouble for picking up the mat he had been laying on near the pools of Bethsaida. If he didn’t pick up the matt someone would have stolen it Sabbath or not.

Additionally, when Jesus healed the man he said, “Take your mat and go home.” The guy does as Jesus tells him and the Pharisees go off on him for not keeping the Sabbath holy. It is a catch-22 situation, he can let Jesus heal him on the Sabbath and then carry his mat home, therefore both of them are working. Or, he could just go on being sick. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what I would be doing, Sabbath or not. I feel pretty sure, dear reader, that you would probably act the same way. I’ve been sick for 38 years? There is no doubt that if someone is there who has the power to make me well, I am going to take him up on the possibility. I also think God is going to understand and be OK with it.

This is yet another example of Jesus’ problems with the Pharisees. They were so caught up in the law as a whole they overlooked the law that Jesus said, and they agreed, I might add, that was most important of all. Love God and love neighbor was then and is now, the rule to live by. Not only would supporting the man’s healing have been the loving thing to do, perhaps they should have bent over, picked up the man’s mat and helped him carry it home.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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