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John 5:1-18, Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

Wednesday, February 7

Laws of Love or Oppression?

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

Well, Jesus is starting to stir it up now! Not only is he healing on the sabbath, but he is also calling God his father. His actions and his words were beginning to get him in trouble.  But Jesus didn't care about getting in trouble. He cared about doing the right thing. Jews had turned God's laws of love into laws of restriction and punishment. The gift of the sabbath had become a curse. The letter of the law had become oppressive rather than rejuvenating. Jesus came to bring people back to God, and back to the gifts that God had offered.

History tends to repeat itself, of course. From the crusades to the inquisition to the holocaust, Christians seems to abuse and misuse God's laws of love to oppress instead of deliver. In light of our current political climate, I fear we may be returning again to a time when people who are "not-us" are being targeted and oppressed. This might be a good time to look again at Jesus' actions and words, and ask ourselves what we might do to support God's laws of love and the people who need God's love (and ours) the most.

Narrative Lectionary Text: John 5:1-18

After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ 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 making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.’ But he answered them, ‘The man who made me well said to me, “Take up your mat and walk.” ’ They asked him, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Take it up and walk”?’ Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.’ The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is still working, and I also am working.’ For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.

Earlier Event: February 6
John 4:46-54, Healing Stories
Later Event: February 8
John 5:19-29, The Authority of the Son