Reading Time: 4 Minutes
“They’d boo the Easter Bunny,” was a comment made by a sports commentator about the fans of the Philadelphia Phillies. I don’t remember anything about that particular game, but I have never forgotten the quote.
Today’s Bible passage reminds me of the Phillies fans. A man who had been a paralytic for thirty-eight years was healed. Instead of rejoicing in the goodness of God, the religious authorities got angry because it was done on the wrong day of the week.
The blindness of always having to be right.
John 5.9-13 – Now that day was a sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”
11 But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’”
12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there.
The law of the sabbath taught that people shouldn’t work on the seventh day of the week. The formerly paralyzed man was technically working. The religious authorities were incensed at this offense toward God and they decided to stand up for God’s rights.
How crazy is that! God, through Jesus, healed this man, but the people who most often spoke for God condemned him.
I hope I have never been this blind to the activity of God. One way to be blind is to insist on being right all of the time. One way of seeing God at work is to insist on being loving all of the time.
What could be worse than being paralyzed for thirty-eight years?
John 5.14-16 – Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”
15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16 Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.
What could be worse than being paralyzed for thirty-eight years? Below are two suggestions and I expect you could add to the list.
(1) Living an entire life and not knowing why God put you on earth.
(2) Permitting bitterness and resentment consume your every thought.
Good news and bad news
John 5.17-18 – But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.”
18 For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.
The good news is that a paralyzed man met Jesus and was able to walk for the remainder of his life.
The good news is that Jesus made it known, and will make it known many times in John’s Gospel, that when you see him in action it is the very action of God. Jesus always and in every way explains God and makes him known.
The bad news is tragic. Religious authorities are so tied to their belief system that they are ready to kill Jesus, rather than seek to know what he is all about. It is sad, but this is a theme that will play out until the religious leaders conspire together to put Jesus on the cross.
When I read passages like this one in John 5, I always ask God to show me how I am like the “bad guys.” Join me in thinking. How does my insistence on being right keep me from seeing God at work? If I were on the scene in Jesus’ day, would I join in with the religious leaders’ persecution of Jesus, or would I stand up for what Jesus was doing?
Dear God, please help me to know your will and to rightly understand the Bible. At the same time, please fill me with your love, so I will never resist your loving activity in people’s lives.