When Jesus heals a lame man in Jerusalem, he makes the mistake of doing it on the Sabbath. What? Jesus made a mistake? Nope. But the leaders at the time focused on the rule he broke instead of focusing on the healing. That’s our lesson: don’t miss the mercy…
2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Jesus healed the lame man on the Sabbath, and the Jewish leaders noticed the date over the healing. The man was carrying his mat on the Sabbath, which violated the Sabbath rules. When the leaders found out it was Jesus who caused this aberration, they persecuted him, questioning his authority.
Jesus’ defense was simple – “my Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” Oh that’s not going to help, Jesus. Now they have you on two crimes: breaking the Sabbath and making yourself equal with God.
Yup. That’s who Jesus is. Equal with the Father. Able to do the same things. Has the same heart of compassion for the people of the world. So how did we go wrong? Because frankly we are not different from the leaders. We focus on rules and expectations all the time and therefore miss the mercy.
The mercy is the point. Jesus gave a man his life back. That’s the point.
Still working – both Jesus and the Father are working even now in our times. And I hope that I don’t miss any of the mercy because I am caught up in rules. This can happen in our families, in our churches, and in our workplaces. Compassion and mercy don’t always follow the black and white lines of authority and rules.
We might find at the point when we think the biggest rule has been broken that the biggest act of mercy has taken place. I don’t want to be too quick to judge, especially if the Lord is at work…