John 5:1-17 NKJV
5 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ”
12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
“Do you want to be made well?” This might seem like an odd question to ask someone who has had an infirmity for 38 years. The question is to draw the man’s attention to Jesus. The man’s answer shows that he is still thinking about the pool as the source of his possible healing rather than Jesus Himself. And, what a hopeless situation: a lame man whose only hope is to be the first one to get into the healing waters at the first sign of their stirring. Being lame would most certainly mean that he would never be the first one there.
Enter Jesus, hope for the hopeless: “Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’ And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked” (8-9).
Ah, but it was a Sabbath day, so enter also, the detractors: “It is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
Overruled! The Lord of the Sabbath Himself says otherwise: “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” The purpose of the Sabbath was to rest—to cease from your normal work just long enough to have a chance to focus on God’s work for us. And, not just to rest, but to rest in Him; not just a Sabbath, but a Sabbath unto the Lord; not just keeping the Sabbath by not working, but keeping the Sabbath holy by devoting the time to holy things like hearing the Word of God, prayer, worship, and so forth.
God “rested” initially on the Sabbath to set that as the pattern for His people, but He certainly continued to sustain, uphold, and provide for His creation, even on Sabbath days, and maybe even especially on Sabbath days. It was on Sabbath days that the people of God were to focus on the work, words, and activity of God for them, rather than their work throughout the rest of the week. Thus, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” So says “the Lord of the Sabbath.”
Let us pray: O God, by the humiliation of your Son you raised up the fallen world. Give your faithful people constant gladness, deliverance from the danger of eternal death, and make us partakers of eternal joys; through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.