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John 5:9-17 - Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
One thing I have learned through the hours of helping people work through conflict – arguments are seldom what they appear to be on the surface. A couple may fight viciously about some seemingly small issue that has almost no lasting impact, but it doesn’t take much digging to realize that the real issue is just beneath the surface.
So it was with Jesus and the leaders of the Jews. When Jesus healed the man at the Bethesda Pool, the Jewish leaders were furious. After all, He had healed on the Sabbath, which violated their rules for what could and could not happen on that day. They missed the miracle because it failed to follow their expectations. Chew on that for awhile!
Underneath the surface, though, was a bigger issue. They argued about the Sabbath, but the real sticking point is found in verse 18: Jesus was making Himself EQUAL to God. He acted like He had authority over the Sabbath, and even over them! He taught as if He wrote the book! He spoke and demons obeyed! He referred to God as His own Father! That was the issue that sent these guys over the edge.
The authority of Jesus continues to be the sticking point that keeps some people away. Oh, they claim other reasons: I don’t understand the Bible; I don’t like His exclusive claims; I had a bad Church experience in the past – but make no mistake – it all comes back to Jesus’ authority. To accept Jesus means to submit to Jesus, and many people just do not want to do that.
Is Jesus who He claims to be? If He really is equal with God, the Messiah who rose from the dead, then we would do well to follow Him devoutly. After all, He claimed authority both on this earth, and in the life after this. The same Jesus who suffered on the cross will also one day judge each of us. On that day, every knee will bow before Him (Phil. 2).