This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
How do we view Jesus?
I was recently looking at a painting of Jesus – he was the picture of serenity, depicted as a white man, flowing locks and obviously adored by everyone who stood around him staring at his face. Whilst we do not know what Jesus really looked like (though clearly not like this painting!), we do know that his life was not always easy, and he was not always surrounded by crowds who worshipped him.
He could cause real conflict and unease in people – especially the religious leaders. In this verse that comes at the end of the passage where Jesus has healed the man by the pool of Bethesda, we see that the religious leaders are baying for blood, they hate him.
As if telling the man to carry his bed on the Sabbath and therefore breaking the tradition of the elders wasn’t bad enough. He was claiming to be God himself! Jesus was smashing through their superficial ideal of religion, showing that the mere following of arbitrary rules could never make a person right with God. Something deeper needed to happen, and these men condemned themselves by their response to the Son of God who was standing in front of them.
It is easy for us to stand back and condemn these men, but we must be careful that we do not fall to the same fatal mistake.
You cannot put Jesus in a box, even well-built reformed and evangelical boxes! It is the privilege of every true child of God, by the regeneration of the heart by the Spirit to bend the knee and acknowledge Jesus as Lord of life. Jesus must come above every tradition, and above all our feelings and biases. He is the image of the invisible God and the firstborn of creation. He is the one mediator between God and men, the cornerstone, and the light of the world.
Let us approach today with great humility and look to serve Jesus – not only as the one who gave his life for us, but as King and Lord of all!
Steffan Job (Capel y Ffynnon, Bangor)