This is Wednesday’s December 19th 2007 sermon in the series that I’m doing in the book of John.
JOHN PART 16
Religion and the desperate man
I’ve was born into a Christian, religious family. It was a Pentecostal family to be quite honest. And not just a normal Pentecostal family, but what is typically called, “Old Time Pentecostal.” This type of background was not very trusting of others, anything that came along, they always looked at it with a weary eye and would often proclaim those dreaded words, “We’ve never done it that way before,” or the classic line, “That doesn’t bear witness with my spirit.” And while I’m glad of my Christian upbringing, there are a few things that I missed out on that I would have loved to participated in. One in particular is what was commonly called, “The Jesus Movement.” I would have loved to see this, hippies and drug addicts flock to Jesus Christ. The Old Time Pentecostal movement was very weary of this, and I feel missed out on a true move of God.
Here is a question that deserves an honest answer, “How many of us have let religion get in the way of seeing God work in powerful ways?
Well, here in our text tonight, we see this happening. Last week we saw this desperate man healed when Jesus told him to, “stand up, pick up his mat, and go walk.”
We are going to see the reaction that these Jews have toward this man, and look at what we can apply to our lives today.
Let’s see what God would say to us through the text tonight.
1. The condemnation of the religious.
John 5:10-13 ISV – So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” (11) But he answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.'” (12) They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Pick it up and walk’?” (13) But the one who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away from the crowd in that place.
In verse 9 we see that they man was healed, and he picked up his mat and started home. Remember, this man had been sick for 38 years, and now he is free completely for the effects of this disease.
But instead of people rejoicing over the work that God had done in this person’s life (I mean, there had to be a number of people there who knew of this man’s condition and saw the change), they immediately begin criticizing the man for working on the Sabbath. You see, they were being legalist to their law.
What was the Sabbath? The Sabbath was a day of rest. In fact the word “Sabbath,” in Hebrew means rest. This was a day for the Jew to set aside all his labor and rest. The Lord commanded Moses to observe the seventh day of each week as a day of rest.
Exodus 20:8-11 ISV – “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. And you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your livestock, nor the alien who is within your gates.11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
But the Sabbath was more than just a day of rest. It was to be a day that the Jews ceased all their labors and gave themselves to remembrance of the Lord. It was a day of celebration and thanksgiving. It was a day to be enjoyed in the Lord. The time that Christ came, these Jewish Scholars had taken the Sabbath and changed it into something it was never meant to be.
Here are a few things that they taught in their commentaries concerning the Sabbath. They taught you should not look into a Mirror on the Sabbath because you might be tempted to clean yourself up and thereby be working. They said that if you ate an egg that was laid on the Sabbath, you had to kill the chicken for Sabbath-breaking.
They also came up with some legal loopholes concerning the Sabbath. If a man had a bundle of grain and wanted to move it on the Sabbath he could, all he had to do was put an eating utensil (spoon) underneath the bundle of grain and thereby he was allowed to move it, no matter how big it was. You could travel further than your property as long as you brought a piece of property with you, stating that you never left your property. Which by the way, is what this man did.
You see, I believe they weren’t really upset that this man was caring his mat, but it was the fact that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, without discussing it with the religious leaders of their law.
A great lesson can be learned here. When we see something unusual happen, let’s not jump to conclusions, nor our interpretation of Scripture, but let’s pray, and study the Scriptures first before we outright reject it. The problem we have in our days, and it was in Christ’s day as well is that people equate their interpretation of Scripture on equal par with Scripture itself.
They wanted to know who told the man to pick up his mat, but the man did not know at the time.
2. Jesus gives this man a warning.
John 5:14 ISV – Later on, Jesus found him in the temple and told him, “See, you have become well. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
Jesus returns to the Temple. I’m sure it is after things have cooled off a bit.
Jesus tells the man to stop sinning or something worse may happen to him. There have been many confusing doctrines that have come about because of this verse. It can be a difficult one to interpret because it is short, and nothing within the context can really be used to explain it.
I feel that was Jesus is saying is not a prerequisite for the cure. He isn’t telling him, “do this and then you will be healed,” he is already healed. What I think Jesus is saying is obey me and quit sinning because you have been healed. In other words, he has already experienced the power of God, don’t go back to your old way of life, but repent and turn to God.
God deals with us at salvation a very similar way. We do not earn our salvation. Neither do we deserve it. We don’t pay God back for it either. But as a result of being saved, we are expected to live differently. We are expected to take up our cross and follow after Him.
3. Jesus confronts the religious.
John 5:15-18 ISV – The man went off and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. (16) So the Jews began persecuting Jesus because he kept doing such things on the Sabbath. (17) But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I, too, am working.” (18) So the Jews were trying all the harder to kill him, because he was not only breaking the Sabbath but was also calling God his own Father, thus making himself equal to God.
The man, now knowing that this person talking to him is the one who healed him, goes to the religious leaders and tells them that it was Jesus who healed him.
Instead of rejoicing over the fact that this man was healed, but begin to persecute Jesus because according to them, He broke the law.
Jesus answer in verse 17 was basically that God works on the Sabbath, and so did Christ. You may say, ‘wait a minute, didn’t God rest on the seventh day.” He rested from creating, but He never nor has never rested from holding on to His creation. If God truly rested, then all the universe would be destroyed.
The Jews now wanted to kill Him all the more for two reasons according to verse 18: By healing a man, He broke their interpretation of the Sabbath. By calling God His Father, He was declaring Himself equal to God.
What are some things we can apply to our lives here.
• Always be careful in our judgments. Make sure that it is truly Scripture that we are using to make our judgments and not our interpretation.
• This is only done by not flying into quick judgments, but in prayer and studying Scripture.
• If it passes the Scripture test, then don’t judge, but rejoice, even if you don’t quite understand or it is not your particular style.
Maybe you feel that you have too judgmental about things or people. Take it to the Lord and pray about it. Next time we will look at some claims that Jesus makes about Himself.