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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Psalm 32:7-9 For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. Interlude The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
Exodus 39:42, 43 So the people of Israel followed all of the Lord’s instructions to Moses. Then Moses inspected all their work. When he found it had been done just as the Lord had commanded him, he blessed them.
Exodus 33:13 “If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.”
Exodus 31:1-5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!”