Reframing The Sabbath | John 5:1-18
Topic: Gospel Passage: John 5:1–5:18
Introduction | Why don’t we have rest?
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work,Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel.In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not or make Jesus into an image we are more comfortable with. Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed by John’s Gospel to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.
How do you define Rest? What is keeping you from rest and peace? Is anyone else exhausted, are you coming in with a bit of need to exhale? When you are unsettled or unwell where do you go and what to do you turn to first and most? We are quick to find reasons and excuses for why we’re not well and cannot actually have rest. We are anxious about things that are out of our control. It keeps us up at night so we cannot sleep and that is part of rest. Sometimes we have legit challenges in our lives that we have been or are enduring. We’re unsettled, we’re in discomfort and we wonder if it ever going to change. Do you ever get a bit inward focused when you’re not experiencing rest? Ever get a little whiny, maybe a lot whiny? It’s at these periods where rest or wholeness seem like a distant concept that other mythical people get to be blessed to experience, rather than any sort of present reality we are enjoying that we can forget that rest, healing, wholeness are even possible. Sometime rest, healing, sabbath is offered and available but we are so preoccupied with why we aren’t at rest that we can’t even see the possibility. We can easily become hopeless or even insufferable to the people that are around us. Anyone else getting sick and tired of you being sick and tired? If we’re honest there are plenty of points we all down right annoying like a whiney toddler and the best thing for us would be for someone else to simply put us down for a nap. But instead we “press on”, blame others for our lack of rest, or feel more entitled to have rest given to us. In John 5:1-18 we will be Reframing The Sabbath to better understand what it means to find our rest in Jesus Alone.
PART I| Reframing Weariness |v1-9
John 5:1-9 | After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.
Jesus has just healed the official’s son in Galilee, and now He’s going back up to Jerusalem for a new feast. While He’s in town, Jesus goes to the Pool of Bethesda. Theses pools were over 100 yards long they were likely fed by something similar to a hot spring and there was a bit of a superstition that this pool had some healing power, that an angel came to stir up the water and if you were the first one in this pool as it happened you’d be healed. It was likely similar to a hot spring that people go to now for therapeutic reasons. This pool was a place where people who were truly suffering would congregate just hopping something extraordinary would happen and they would be the first one in to be healed. It was some Rickey Bobby Health/Wealth theology “If you’re not first you’re last!” They are community of desperate people in great need of physical healing.The pool is called Bethesda (House of Mercy) These people were suffering, and they wanted the suffering to end. Misery loves company, and this was a “multitude” of “invalids” who were either blind, lame, paralyzed, or suffered from other maladies. And before you think this is just a bunch of sick people lounging around a pool enjoying themselves remember they’re all in not just eager anticipation, but anxious expectation of the next moment the pool water was going to be “stirred” so they can make their way in as the first. So they’re not relaxing and in a state of rest, they are rapt at attention. They don’t have rest because they are all focused on themselves and making sure they’re in before everyone else. Like at the DMV when someone else’s number is called.
Rest never comes from waiting for healing. It’s never pleasant to be in a place where you know you’re not well and you just want everything to be better. Waiting for healing is exhausting. At some points you’re so tired you just want to be put on a couch for a long time, but that never makes it better. Superstition will never lead to healing. Understanding rest can come from understanding why we’re weary. We are all people in need of great healing and we’re all waiting around for something magical to change everything and we don’t even care if others are unwell or also need healing.
Jesus initiates engaging with an individual in the midst of a crowd.Usually there are people seeking out healing from Jesus, here He is finding this guy. Jesus is actively seeking this guy out. He has experienced a life time of being lame and in great need. I read in a commentary that 38 years was the average life span of men at that time and I thought “cool, that’s me!” Jesus knows everything about this guy’s condition. He knows he’s been suffering for far too long. He knows his life has not been one of flourishing, purposeful work, and renewing rest, but rather one of significant pain and unsettled spirit. He’s been brought or made it somehow to this pool. He’s tried everything else and he’s been stuck at this place starring at this pool thinking it can lead to peace, rest, healing, wholeness, but he’s consumed by the memories of all the times he’s been let down because he’s seen the “water stir” but not made it to the pool, not had his healing. So he cannot rest he can only wait. It in the place, at this time that Jesus out of the whole multitude see him and engage with him. Jesus asks a simple question. Do you want to be healed? DO YOU WANT TO BE WELL!
Rest comes from answering what Jesus is asking us. This guy is so annoying. It’s a simple question, want to be well or not? The guy gives all the excuses. He thinks the reason he isn’t healed, isn’t resting is outside of him.
Rather than having a conversation about what healing and rest look like He has a list of grievances on why healing hasn’t happened yet, it’s a short one but it’s still a list. He cannot see healing a possibility, he only sees the problems preventing healing. His answers betrays attitudes in our culture that still remain.
#1 I am not getting the help from others I deserve. The reason, I’m not experiencing rest enjoying peace, or finding healing…. is everyone else. No one is putting me in the pool at the right time. Nobody likes me. I am not supported. I can’t be healed because no one is helping me. Ok, you’re not getting help from others, boo hoo, why don’t you try to fix yourself and take care of it? Oh, I am so glad you asked….
#2 When I try on my own, somebody takes what is mine (entitlement) I try to get down there and somebody else gets healed besides me. I can’t be healed because someone else has been healed. There isn’t healing and true rest available because others are receiving it. Jesus maybe you could carry me. There is no rest when we’re constantly blaming others and our circumstances for our lack of healing. You might think this is being too hard on a guy that has been suffering a significant handicap for his whole life but this guy is one of the most annoying guys that Jesus engages with because he constantly is responding in the worst way.
Here is the thing, I identity with this guy. You should identify with this guy, you should want to see good things for this guy. Because the truth is, all of us have a lot of this guy in us. We have been suffering and had true rest elude us because of outside circumstances, personal issue (even sin) and crappy heart attitudes. We can and are often really annoying. People are annoying… and Jesus heals them. No matter how annoying or broken you are Jesus can heal you. By knowing Jesus heals even when we’re annoying we can actually rest and not worry if Jesus saves or heals based on how great we are but instead see that Jesus can even engage with us when we (others) aren’t even aware of where healing and rest come from. What do you need Jesus to heal in you? Jesus can do it. Jesus is right in front of you asking you if you want to be well, don’t tell him why you can’t be. Maybe this guy didn’t know Jesus, but he’s about to experience Jesus working.When Jesus wants to heal you, your answer shouldn’t be all the reasons He can’t do it but it should simply be “yes!” Even though he doesn’t give the right answer Jesus is still gracious and merciful to him and gives him physical healing. Jesus is gracious, merciful, perfectly patient and powerful, we are not.
We cannot heal, fix, or provide true rest for anyone. When we’re seeking it in others we put pressure on them they were not created or able to bear. So when we want to see people be well, when we want to help people walk, we can only work with and assist people who “want to be well” WE don’t release healing or bring rest, we can only point to the one who can bring both. We will exhaust ourselves trying to help those who don’t truly want to be well. We can’t want something for someone more than they want it.
Jesus speaks, healing happens. Jesus word is powerful. More than “stirred up water.” He can get up, he can walk and he can even carry his own burden. This is comprehensive. Jesus brings rest by healing what keeps us from walking and strengthen us to obey what He commands. Rest can begin when we follow the words and commands of Jesus. Rest comes from walking in Jesus commands in ways we never could on our own.
Jesus brings rest by initiating a conflict and a disruption in the places that rob us of rest and peace. He tells the guy to pick up his mat and walk. Jesus tells him to do something he’s never been able to do. Jesus don’t care about you lack of faith in Him because He can overcome that. But you should still respond with faith in Him. Jesus says, You don’t need to stay in this waiting room of lameness walk out and don’t plan on coming back. Jesus healing is moving you away from the place of your greatest disappointment and depression. He doesn’t say stand up you’re well, but keep waiting by the pool. Rest can’t happen if you remain in a place that represents hopelessness. Rest is moving from hopelessness to walking in new life given to us by Jesus. This would be a great place to end the story. Jesus finds one guy in the midst of the crowd, heals him despite him, and he walks in a new life of praise and worship telling everyone Jesus healed him. Done! Not really….. Rest is more than simply being healed of what robs of rest it requires faith in the one who heals.
PART II | Reframing Response | v10-15
John 5:10-15 | 10 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.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 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. 14 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.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.
This wasn’t the end of the story. There is more than just physical healing that needs to happen, more than changing circumstances to bring rest. This man isn’t going to experience rest because there are issues at the heart level of his soul. He had the powerful experience of being freed from 38 years of physical bondage but there are still chains around his soul, and outside circumstances keeping from true rest. He walks around town with his mat heading back home likely and he’s confronted by some religious leaders. He’s carrying something on the Sabbath. This is significant. This was a day that God set aside for rest, rest from the weariness of everyday life. Rest from the burden to be productive. Rest to remember the work of God to create and bring life. This is something God takes seriously. How do you rest? Sometimes I need a nap, sometimes I need a bike ride, sometimes I need to wash my truck. The point is to be instead of do. But to be clear there is no prohibition in the Bible on a guy who has been healed from 38 years of sickness walking his mat back home. The fact it was the Sabbath means that what Jesus commanded him to do violated their uber religious rules, but it didn’t violate God’s law to rest from work.To avoid breaking God’s law the Pharisees had 39 types of work that had to be abstained from during that day including not writing more than two letters or erasing one. Not moving things from one domicile to another. So the next time someone asks you to help move on a Sunday you say “no, I’m a first century rabbi type.” And they can respond there is a new covenant so help me with my couch! Sometimes other people aren’t interested in you experiencing rest, they are more interested in man-made rules being maintained. They’re not interested in people experiencing rest, they just want control. This guy has experienced a miracle and they’re worried he’s carrying a sleeping bag when he couldn’t carry himself a few moments ago. They should be asking not “who told you to violate our rules,” but “who brought you such amazing healing.” Instead they object. Jesus did this on purpose. Waters weren’t being stirred up at the pool, but Jesus is stirring up the city. This man’s response to this objection is nearly as telling as his response to Jesus’ questions earlier. He doesn’t want rest.
No rest when you’re more worried about what people say about you, than what God has done for you. He has an opportunity give honor and point others to the miracle he’s experienced and instead he is in a place of wanting to please religious people around him. It is exhausting trying to conform to other people’s expectations of who they think you should be. There is no Sabbath in performing to the world’s standards that are outside of what Jesus has commanded. Trying will only get you farther away from rest.
No Rest when we turn what God has given as a blessing into an opportunity to blame shift. He has been healed by Jesus and when he’s walking in obedience he’s confront by the religious guys. This would have been a great to explain to them what happen in a way that brings glory to God. Instead he takes something that was an amazing blessing and turns it into a curse. He’s not in sin, but in facing this external pressure he responses not with boldness but shame like Adam who when confronted by God in the garden for sin said “God this women whom you gave me made me do it.” Sorry for violating your rules but it wasn’t my fault it was the guy who healed me who told me to do it. There is no rest with no ownership
No Rest when we’ve forgotten our identity.In the beginning he was “The sick man” Now twice he is “The man who has been healed.” He’s has been fundamentally transformed from a guy known for his sickness and is ability to one who has been met by Jesus and has been healed in a significant way.
No rest when we’re ignorant of where healing comes from. He doesn’t know who healed him! He was so focused on his own pain that he couldn’t see who had worked in his life. Did seek to know.This would have ended with and the guy didn’t know who healed him, but then Jesus initiates again! Jesus finds him again!
No rest without honoring Jesus for what he has done. He’s walking around in the temple in a great crowd and he’s found again by Jesus. That must have been a bit awkward. “Hey Guy, How you doing? You’re still walking around that’s great!”Remember a bit ago when you weren’t well and now you are? How’s that working out for you? So about your soul…. Jesus found him by the pool where people wanted healing and he healed him physically and Jesus pursues him in the temple (A place full of needy people who need to be healed from there sin and experience new life with God) to point to his need for healing spiritually. In this place Jesus uses the same word for healed/well that he asked the previous question. Only this time he’s making a statement about the guys true condition. You’re just a spiritually lame as you were physically. I healed one so you’d know where true healing comes from to be healed of the other. There is a warning..
A lifetime of suffering in being an invalid is not as bad as an eternity suffering just wrath as exile from God.
This man, one who has been met by Jesus, healed by Jesus, confronted by Jesus, now has graciously been given another chance to respond to Jesus with humility, gratitude, and worship.Again this should have ended with the Guy evangelizing and worshipping. Nearly every other person who has an encounter with Jesus leaves changed and they go and tell everyone else who would listen about who Jesus is, what he has done, how they were changed so that other’s might experience the life changing soul sabbath rest of life with God in Jesus. Instead… he goes and rats Jesus out to the Pharisees, throws him under the bus. I didn’t know who healed me, but now I do it was Jesus. Don’t get mad at me get mad at him. And mad they are.
PART III | Reframing Jesus | v16-18
John 5:18 | 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” 18 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.
There is a rejection of Jesus because he didn’t fit their prescribed way of religion. Jesus was working the way they thought He should. Jesus was intentional many times about brining healing on the sabbath because the sabbath was made for people to experience rest and peace with God. So Jesus working and healing was the greatest way He could spend a time of Sabbath. Jesus answers them (defends himself) by stating that his Father (God) is working until now and that he is working as well. God is working even now, so I am working…. Because I’m God!Jesus is always working. All things are held together by the counsel of His will. God never rests from pursing His people, God is always providing care to His people. God never needs to rest even when he “rested” it was in creating not in sustaining life.
Jesus is clear on who He is so you should be clear on how you respond. There is a rejection of Jesus that is overt. You can either receive the rest and healing from Jesus or Reject it but know you won’t find rest anywhere else. The religious leaders failed in their response to Jesus. They were inventing charges, ignoring miracles, and ignoring prophecies about the messiah. They want death to Jesus because with Jesus Equal to God it means if Jesus is God than I am not and you are not.
Jesus came working to bring us true rest. Rest in healing us, rest in performing for us in our plae , rest in restoring us. In Jesus healing as he did it paved the way to his greatest work of healing, directly leading Him to the cross. In this passage we see that Jesus’ healing ministry directly led him to the cross. When you think of both how Jesus has healed you, and what it cost him, let that point you toward gratitude and seizing opportunities to help in the healing of others.
Jesus worked on Friday, was risen on Sunday so we could find rest in Him everyday when we Trust Jesus.