Daily D – John 5:17
Jesus responded to them, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.”
JOHN 5:17 (CSB)
Does God keep his own laws?
Earlier in this chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath who had been disabled for thirty-eight years (verse 5). Then he told the man, “Pick up your mat and walk,” (verse 11).
Carrying a load from one house to another on the Sabbath was forbidden by the Tradition as a protective measure to prevent a person from breaking God’s law against work on the Sabbath. Jesus instructed the man to break the Tradition which was considered a more serious violation than breaking the Tradition himself. Causing someone else to sin was a greater sin than the sin the other person committed.
When Jesus was inevitably confronted on this matter he said, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.” At first glance, Jesus does not say much here that we are not accustomed to hearing. Look closer.
Jesus said, “My Father.” This little pronoun followed by this noun is a powerful theological construction. The Jews understood immediately what Jesus meant. “Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God,” (verse 18).
The pronoun, My, denotes an exclusive relationship. It is what John has been telling us since 1:1. It is the main feature of 3:16, 17. Jesus has a unique, one-of-a-kind relationship with God the Father. No one else has this unique relationship. The Jewish leaders understood the implication. They also rejected it.
Then Jesus said, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.” This was piling heresy on top of heresy to the Jewish leaders. Their understanding of Creation was that when God finished his job of creating the heavens and the earth, he entered into a permanent Sabbath rest. He would not lift anything above his head or carry a load from one house to another.
Does God keep his own laws?
In another context, Matthew 12:9-14, Jesus healed another man on the Sabbath. Again, he was challenged. He provided this rationale:
Our Father in heaven,
your name be honored as holy.
I will live as our Father’s son.
Our Father, how awesome it is to come to you with this declaration. We belong to you. You welcome us into your presence. You receive us as your dearly loved children. You work your works of mercy and necessity in our lives. You are not finished with us yet. You love us just as we are. You love us so much that you continue shaping our lives into unique masterpieces of your own creation. How wonderful and humbling are these truths! Thank you. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.