Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 5:9b-11 AAnd on the same day was the Sabbath. The Jews, therefore, said unto him that was cured, It is the Sabbath day; it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.@
Carrying a load on Sabbath was a serious crime. The moment Jesus issued the command, this man would have known, to obey would be dangerous.
The bed wasn=t heavy. It was a pallet, the bed of the poor. It was simply a mat or rug which could easily be rolled up and carried under the arm.
To carry even a light load terribly offended the religious leaders. The Rabbis of Jesus= day said a tailor was sinning if he carried a needle in his robe on the Sabbath. He might be tempted to work. They felt it was wrong to wear artificial teeth and a wooden leg, or to use a crutch, on Sabbath.
Despite the danger, this man obeyed Christ. He was willing to face the censure of the religious leaders and honor Jesus, a mark very much to his credit.
The man responded straightforwardly to the legalists. To clear himself from serious charges, he offered what he believed would be a logical explanation.
He claimed to be obeying an authority. The authority of his healer seemed at the moment to outweigh any legal rulings. The healed man instantly knew he had met Something (Someone) greater than the Sabbath.
He believed a power which could release him from illness could also release him from the sin of carrying his bed. The man seemed to say, AHe gave me power to walk. Doesn=t He have the right to tell me what to do with what He gave?@
This man displayed one of the most important traits of living for God. They who have been healed by Jesus should be ruled by Jesus, whatever the cost.
In Christian living, the deepest and most constraining motivation for action is gratitude. If this dies, Christianity dies with it and Pharisaism rises in its place.
Unbelievers usually do not understand the high level of non-compromise expected of believers. The lost cannot comprehend devotion to the Lord. The only person who has the right to command us is Jesus who saves us.
His dominion is built on His benefits. He is King because He is Savior. He is Ruler because He is Redeemer. He bought us with His own blood. Hence, we are determined to live for Him.
The standard of Jesus is higher than the requirements of a law code. Christian duty truly is often painful. There is self-sacrifice in serving Christ. But the rigid harshness of law is done away with. Laws are cold, but Christ=s precepts come from a heart warm with love, a love we respond to.
He commands only what He gives the power to obey. He will never put on us more than we can bear. For Master, we gladly do anything, regardless the cost.
John 5:12-13 AThen asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was; for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.@
Everyone should have been rejoicing and praising God, but the religious leaders ignored the healing and tried to make criminals of the man and Jesus. Bypassing the reference to healing, they eagerly jumped at the controversy. They would rather fight than rejoice. No wonder Jesus called them Ablind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel@ (MT 23:24).
The leaders centralized their thoughts on peripheral matters. They completely lost their sense of proportion. The same is true of many today. The attitude of misplaced priorities continues to live. It even invades our churches.
Many believers do not concentrate on the conversion of unbelievers. They can not rejoice in the salvation of the lost because their thoughts are obsessed by issues less important.
Christians often wear fashionable clothes to church, and meticulously tithe, but are irritable, bad-tempered, and wasteful with the rest of their money.
Many church members are involved in good activities, but their children are lonely for them at night. Our children should not be spending more time alone in their bedroom than they are with family in the living room.
Be careful. Beware misplaced priorities. Don=t lose a proper sense of proportion. Love God. Love others, including your family. Seek to find the lost.
John 5:14 AAfterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.@
Jesus was not finished with this man. The healing was incomplete until its spiritual lesson was clearly seen.
Jesus found him in the Temple. This was probably his first trip to the actual Temple in 38 years, for he would have previously been considered ritually unclean. Going to the Temple first is a plus for this man=s character, but he needed words of instruction from Jesus.
To the Israelites, sin and suffering were connected. Any pain, sickness, or setback could be traced to a particular sin.
We agree that all sickness is a consequence of sin. Had Adam and Eve never sinned, there would be no illness. But to particularize cause and effect in any given situation is risky.
How this man=s sickness was linked to his sin must remain a mystery, but a connection is implied. The man evidently had been, and still was, in sin. ASin no more@ literally means Asin no longer.@ Jesus knew the root of his problem.
Jesus made sure the man knew his healing had been a deed of mercy. The man, evidently guilty of a besetting sin, may have been tempted to think his cure was cheap grace. He might feel he had Agotten away with sin.@ Jesus had not been fooled. He reminded the man he could not go on sinning and escape dire consequences.
God=s love and forgiveness must never be used as an excuse to sin. We must ever hate sin with a total hatred, because every sin breaks God=s heart.
Jesus essentially warned the healed man to avoid a relapse. Unfortunately, it is possible for those who have been made whole to take their condition for granted and return to sin.
The man had been healed. A mighty hand had lifted him out of the pit of despair and given him new life. Youth had been renewed in him. It was still possible he would forget. We might think it impossible to forget deliverance. But gratitude is easier to forget than remember.
It is possible to forget God=s greatest deliverance and blessings of life. We can fall back into sin. People must be warned a fall like this is not only criminal, but also deadly, ASin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.@
For 38 years this man had been lame, lonely, and continuously disappointed. These sadnesses were bad enough, but even worse things would befall him if he rebelled against the Lord by remaining in sin.
AIt had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them@ (2 Peter 2:21). AWhen the unclean spirit is allowed to return, the last state of that man is worse than the first@ (see Luke 11:24-26).
David knew better than to violate the sanctity of family life, but did it anyway and reaped a whirlwind in his children (2 S 11:4; 13:14; 16:22). Ahab=s grandson was treacherously slain in the portion of Naboth (2 K 9:21-24). God will not be mocked.
Who can number the arrows of the Almighty? When defied, He becomes a God with whom the sinner must reckon. But if we forsake sin and flee to His forgiveness as our refuge, His mercy and pardon abound.