Lessons from Bethesda, Part 1

“Now it was the Sabbath on that day. So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, ‘It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.’ But he answered them, ‘He who made me well was the one who said to me, “Pick up your pallet and walk.”’ They asked him, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Pick up your pallet and walk”?’ But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place” (John 5:9–13).

John notes that the healing took place on the Sabbath. Indeed, that was the key to this whole incident. It set the stage for the Jewish authorities’ open hostility toward Christ. The fury of their opposition would only escalate throughout the remainder of His earthly ministry, finally culminating in His death.

Jesus’ refusal to observe the legalistic and man-made Sabbath regulations was a major point of contention between Himself and Israel’s religious establishment. In fact, the Lord deliberately chose to heal this man on the Sabbath to confront superficial and bankrupt Jewish legalism. The Lord wanted to show mercy to this man, but also to call the nation to repentance by confronting the self-righteous and unbiblical stipulations that led to their illusion of spiritual life.

Ask Yourself
Are there certain tastes, traditions, and preferences that cloud your view of God’s activity in the world and in people’s lives? How many could you name? What elevates these rigid absolutes beyond their biblical contexts, positioning them as barriers to grace rather than gateways to it?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610