John 5 begins with one of Jesus’ first healings, the healing of the sick man by the pool on the Sabbath. Jesus encounters a man by Bethseda who had been an invalid for 38 years. Jesus goes over and talks to him, and, after the man explains that no one is there to put him in the water, Jesus heals him.
Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” John 5:8-10 ESV
This is one of many passages where Jesus’ commands and actions conflict with the Pharisees’ laws. While Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testaments laws, he disapproved of the many laws and regulations the Pharisees heaped upon the people. The Pharisees didn’t teach the people the reason for the law or why they followed it, they just made sure everyone followed every rule, even the ones they made up.
And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” 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. John 5:17-18 ESV
Only 5 chapters in to John, the Pharisees are already planning to kill Jesus because of what He teaches. Instead of turning to Him, those who thought they had an excellent knowledge of the Law and Prophets reject Him.
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40 ESV
Too often I turn to other things for “life” instead of Jesus. It is easy to believe good deeds and following the rules will get you into heaven, but Jesus makes it clear: He is the Only Way. Only Jesus can give true life, something those who humble themselves and turn to Him will receive.
Dear God, Thank You for Scripture, please help me understand it so I can learn more about You. Thank you for Your Perfect Son, the fulfillment of Scripture, and help me turn to You for “life” not lesser things that cannot provide it. In Your Holy Name, Amen.