March 25, 2020 – Wednesday
John 5:16 NIV
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him.
What were the things Jesus was doing on the Sabbath? Earlier in verse eight He healed a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years, telling him “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”. Upon being cured the man got up, picked up his mat and walked. The Jewish leaders completely ignored the fact he had been healed and only considered he was carrying his mat. Later he told the Jewish leaders, it was Jesus who had healed him and told him to pick up his mat.
Throughout the gospels you will find Jesus doing miracles on the Sabbath. In every case, the Jewish leaders looked upon this as a violation of the Sabbath. In reality it was not a violation of the command of scripture concerning the Sabbath, but the extra layers of rules placed above and beyond the actual command. What the command actually said was there was to be no work done on the Sabbath. The word used was the Hebrew mĕla’kah which means work, labor, or business or employment. This was to be a time to reflect on God and how He had blessed them.
After healing a man in the book of Matthew, they asked Jesus Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? Jesus’ reply was one they could not refute: “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:10-12) He placed His actions in the category of doing good. Following our verse of the day Jesus replied in His defense “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working”. But His work was in doing good.
How about us? What do we do on the Sabbath? Do we work by doing good or do we work by making money somehow in business, labor, or employment? Maybe the sink at home is plugged up, should you fix it? Of course, so long as you are still taking time to reflect on God and His blessings. Do good, but don’t endeavor to make money or a promotion.
Returning to our verse of the day one might ask what form did the persecution take? Some versions of the bible said they also sought to kill or slay Him, but that is not found in the older manuscripts. However Pett suggests that Initially the persecution must have taken on the form of some verbal attack, as it leads on to a reply from Jesus, but the way it is put suggests that this is seen as the commencement of a continual process of persecution. Jesus is looked on as a confirmed Sabbath-breaker. Note that ‘these things’ confirms that Jesus is recognised as having flouted the Pharisaic regulations a number of times. This is only one example.
Pett is correct, this is only one example. In fact when reading the book of John, it seems Jesus waited until the Sabbath to perform a number of His miracles. This seemed to have the purpose of poking the Pharisees and the teachers of the law in the eye with their extra rules and regulations beyond what God had commanded.
They seem to have forgotten the purpose of the Sabbath or other commands themselves. Jesus on more than one occasion brings this to their attention such as this in Luke 11:42 when He said Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. They were all about following the rules (not a bad thing) while neglecting justice and the love of God.
Lesson for us: Let us not forget or neglect justice and the love of God as we seek to live in His will.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton