9 July 2014

John 5:1-18

“Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’” (v. 8)


Unlike the UK, Grenada is a country where religious and denominational affiliation are still very much part of life. It is common to be asked pointed questions about the nature of Baptism, Bible versions, acceptable food and the Sabbath day. Religious education classes in school often have to be saved from descending in to children forming battle lines based on whatever their particular church teaches on a certain subject.

The passage today about the healing by Jesus at the pool quickly changes from being about this amazing miracle, to an investigation of Sabbath rule breaking. The idea of Sabbath rest was enshrined in the ten commandments (Exodus 20:8-11) but by Jesus' day, a major focus for some religious men was, 'What does it mean to rest on the Sabbath?' All sorts of rules had been made to govern Sabbath rest, and while those who were powerful and rich could find ways around them, others were being suppressed by the rules, especially the poor and sick. What God had intended for good had now been made bad. We see that the Jews, meaning the religious rulers not the average Jewish person, completely ignore the nature and wonder of this man's healing (verse 10). They do not give glory to God, but instead are blinded by their own religious thought and arguments to what God is doing! When Jesus faces persecution for breaking their religious rules, his reply is simple but profound: "My Father is still working, and I also am working" (v. 17). God is working around the clock doing good, so Jesus works around the clock doing good. Love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness and faith in action trump religious rules and arguments every time.

To Ponder

  • When have rules, religious or otherwise, stopped you from speaking and acting in love toward another person?
  • What good can you do 'around the clock' like God?
  • How should we deal with differences between us on important matters of faith, religious observance and how we live out the Christian life?

Bible notes author

Dr Andy Dye

Andy Dye is a mission partner for the Methodist Church in Britain serving with the Methodist Church in Grenada, South Caribbean. He has a background in science, science teaching and mission work.