Read John 5:1-47.
Devotion by: Beth Slater
Jesus Censured for Sabbath-breaking
Often when I read the Word, I am surprised by the lack of compassion of the Jewish leaders. In their desire to cling tightly to the rules that make them "good" and better than all the others, they end up focusing on the wrong thing. They miss the beauty of the healing, the hopeful, the victory. They miss the heart of the people and the heart of Jesus.
How can they not see what is going on here? How do they see a man healed from a 38-year disability and not celebrate his healing? (Side note: I love that the length of time of this man's illness is not a factor for Jesus.)
Instead in this passage, we read about them scolding and questioning the man because he is "carrying his mat" on the Sabbath which is forbidden “work” by Jewish law. They say to the man, "Who said you could carry your mat?"
Why can't they see this obvious miracle? How about saying instead, "Whoa! You're actually carrying your mat and walking! How wonderful! Let's celebrate!"
What is wrong with these people? And yet, didn't I, just the other day, do the same thing? Didn’t I choose to focus on the mistakes, flaws or broken rules of my loved ones, rather than focus on the kindness, efforts, and good intentions that more often categorize who they are? I, like the Jewish leaders, mistakenly focus on the "broken rule" rather than focusing rightly, Jesus’ way, by seeing the heart.
Gratefully, mercifully, Jesus knows our hearts and sees what needs healing. Not only does he heal bodies but more importantly He heals our hearts. In this passage, He teaches us a remedy for our brokenness. He asks if we want it.
"(Insert your name here), do you want to get well?"
Yes, Lord, I do.
"Pick up your mat and walk. Come to me and receive life."