When it comes to Jesus, we are forced to decide between two options- Jesus, the true giver of life or life draining, religious rules. This dichotomy of choice is never clearer than it is in this section of John’s Gospel. Jesus decides to heal one person at the pool of Bethsaida (meaning “house of grace” in Hebrew). This decision kicks off a radical change in the way Jewish leaders treated Jesus. And here, Jesus reveals even more about God’s activity within the human story. For God has come not just to do individual miracles of temporary significance, but to bring eternal life to those who believe. But also, we Jesus’ actions create a steely resolve among his enemies. Because Jesus’ life and mission threatened their human centered structures.
In this story we see Jesus
- At a personal level (deeply compassionate)
- At a cosmic level (deeply theological)
- In between these two levels a deep conflict is brewing
1. Christ’s interaction with this man teaches the body of Christ some important lessons 5:1-5.
a. Jesus bypasses superstitions of the day (but also scientism)
i. Definition of “superstition”- a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief.
ii. Definition of “scientism” – a system of thought that asserts all of life can be fully accounted for on the grounds of naturalism and a closed system of cause and effect.
iii. Definition of “Biblical Spirituality” – “my Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working…” (Jesus in John 5:15)
b. Jesus initiates (John 5:6, cf. James 1:27)
i. Jesus never forces himself on people (v. 6)
2. Following Jesus will often lead to persecution (5:7-9, 16-18)
a. Jesus did not allow manufactured rules used to control people keep him from helping made-in-the-image-of-God people.
i. Hard Religion (enforce man-made rules for conformity)
ii. Soft Religion (enforce detached ideas for morality)
b. John knows this because John has seen:
i. His fellow disciples martyred
ii. His city burned
iii. His freedom taken from him
iv. If you don’t know suffering, then you can’t fully understand Jesus.
3. Jesus then equates himself with God, his Father
a. The Father loves the Son
b. The Father and the Son give life
c. The Son is the perfect representation of God
Do you have any manmade religious rules that keep you from helping people. If you have then:
- Identify that rule
- Break that rule (because you must decide)
- Know that God is always working