John 5:10-18 “The Persecution of Jesus”
Introduction: Jesus has healed a man and departed before the man knew who He was. We certainly can understand how this is possible for in the excitement of the moment the crowd would have been amazed and the man would have been demonstrating his new found strength and agility. Jesus deliberately left this man to face the Jewish leaders by himself. Jesus will reveal himself to this man but only after he has been tried by the Jews.
(John 5:10) The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry [thy] bed.
The Jewish leaders are meant here by the term Jews. They did not say a word about the man’s ability to walk and the apparent miracle that had been preformed. They instead focus on the man carrying his bed. They deemed this a violation of the Law of Moses concerning the Sabbath.
Was this a violation of the Sabbath? To keep this law one was to do no work. They were not to gather sticks for a fire on the Sabbath. They were not to cook on the Sabbath. All work was to be done ahead of time. The wood was to be already gathered and the fire already kindled before the Sabbath. The food was to be pre-cooked and no servants were to work on this day. There was provision for emergencies for they could get an ox out of the ditch on this day. The Priests worked hard on the Sabbath offering the sacrifices. The Idea of the Sabbath was for men to rest and worship God together.
This man had not broken the Sabbath. What he did was to carry his bed home at the bidding of Jesus. Had he left his bed there it would have been stolen. He went to the temple to worship for this was appropriate for the Sabbath day.
(John 5:11) He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.
The man answers his accusers by explaining that he was simply following orders. The one who had made him whole had to have been a man of God. A man of God was to be obeyed. Men were to obey the words of the prophets for they spake for God. Nicodemus had concluded that Jesus was from God because of the miracles He preformed. This man had concluded the same thing. The Jews have to admit that a notable miracle has been done and they must accept this mans explanation and release him.
(John 5:12) Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
They turn their attention now to the man who told him to do this thing. They will bring this one to be judged for they deem Him to be guilty of breaking the Sabbath by healing on this day and by encouraging others to break the Sabbath.
(John 5:13) And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in [that] place.
The man is unable to provide them with this information for Jesus had not stayed long enough for the man to know who He was. It would seem as though he would have been so grateful that he would have followed Jesus and not let Him out of his sight. It would seem natural for him to want to show his gratitude to Jesus and would not have let Him get away without knowing were to send the Thank you card. But the man had let Jesus slip away and made no efforts to find out who He was.
Upon this the Jews release the man and he goes into the temple. The reason people go to the temple is to pray and to offer sacrifices. This man has much to be thankful for and has gone to the right place. He could not thank the man who healed him but he can thank God who sent Him.
(John 5:14) Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
Jesus comes to the man in the temple and reveals Himself to him. Jesus gives the man two pieces of evidence that He is the Christ. The first concerns the past. Jesus knows the sin of this man. He knows that it was a result of the sin of this man that he had been sick. Sin can result in illness. Paul told the Corinthians that some were sick among them because they had misused the Lord’s Supper. Sexual immorality can result in illness such as AIDS. Whatever this man’s sin was it had resulted in illness and this man knew it.
Jesus gives this man the second piece of evidence when He tells him the future. If this man does not turn from sin he will suffer a worse punishment than being sick for thirty eight years. The only way a man can sin no more is to be born again. The man who is born again is a new creature and that new creature, that inward man can not sin for he has been born of God. The outward man continues to sin but the inward man will never sin again. Remember that the wages of sin is death. The opposite of this is everlasting life which is a gift of God. For one to have everlasting life he must not sin. Thus our outer man will die and go back to the dust but our inward man which is a new creation in Christ will go to be with God forever.
This concept of no sin is a strange and difficult to comprehend. This man shows no interest nor any curiosity. He is not like Nicodemus who asked “how can these things be?” This man does not make any acknowledgement that Jesus is Lord. Nicodemus called Jesus Master. This man will betray Jesus. Nicodemus spoke out for Jesus before the counsel. This man will have no more to do with Jesus. Nicodemus will bury the body of Christ.
(John 5:15) The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
This man left Jesus and went strait to the Jewish leaders to tell them that it was Jesus who had made him whole. Why did he do this? As far as I can tell there are two possible reasons. The first reason is that he fears the Jews still hold ill feelings toward him for breaking the Sabbath and he wants to get back into their favor. He goes to them and tells them it was Jesus and they will see that he is sincerely trying to clear himself of wrong doing. He will shift the blame from himself to Jesus.
The second reason is that he wants them to know that it was Jesus who had done this great miracle so that they may meet Him and acknowledge that He is from God. Notice that the scripture does not say that he told the Jews that it was Jesus who commanded him to take up his bed and walk. He told them rather that it was Jesus who made him whole. He places the emphasis on the healing rather than on the instructions.
This man knows that the Jews want to know who healed him so that they can accuse him of breaking the Law. It seems to me that the former reason is the most likely. This man is concerned only about himself. He fears what men will think. He has his health and cares nothing for the one who healed him. Jesus healed a blind man who insisted on following Jesus. Jesus healed a man possessed with a legion of demons and this cured man beg Jesus to let him follow but Jesus told him to return to his own and tell them what great thing had been done for him. Nicodemus would proclaim openly for Jesus before the counsel and before all men. Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out of her by Jesus and she showed her love for Him by being a faithful follower. Many followed Jesus because they were so profoundly grateful for what He had done for them but this man says not a word of thanks or of acknowledgement of who Jesus is. I believe this man to be a selfish, blame shifting, un-thankful, fearful man who in spite of these traits experienced the mercy and grace of God. If I am wrong then I will apologize to this man in glory but I fear that he will not be there.
(John 5:16) And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
The Jewish leaders now have one witness and they need but one more to put Jesus to death for breaking the Sabbath. The surely will be able to find in the multitude of people who witnessed this miracle one whose testimony will agree with this man. The verse says they persecuted Jesus. We may conclude that they very actively sought witnesses and evidence with which they could condemn Jesus. Having obtained this they call Jesus before them and question Him concerning His working on the Sabbath.
(John 5:17) But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
Jesus gave them an unexpected answer. Jesus told them that His Father had been working up to this time and He to, like His Father, must work. He is not talking about Joseph for Joseph is not His father. God is His Father. David called both Lord. David said “The Lord said unto my Lord sit thou at My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” David understood that there was but one God and yet he knew of the Spirit of God and He acknowledged the position of the Father and of His Son. The Jews understood what Jesus meant.
(John 5:18) Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
There are religious groups who say that Jesus is the Son of God but this does not mean He is God. Notice in this verse that the Jews took this to mean that the Son of God was equal with God. The Jews now have two things against Jesus. They have the breaking of the Sabbath and blaspheme.
Jesus had not broken the Law of the Sabbath. What Jesus had told the man to do in no way broke the law. The man carrying his bed broke only the traditions of the elders. Much of what the Jewish leaders practiced as law was nothing more than tradition. Today men often base right and wrong on tradition rather than on Biblical doctrine. Some would be highly offended if the worship service included the playing of a drum. These perceived offences have resulted in people being run off from the church. Traditions are good in their proper place but beware that they take not the place of God’s Holy Word!
Clapping in Church services, Women baptizing, Who conducts the Lord’s Supper, how often we observe the Lord’s Supper, the use of musical instruments, the order of services, who leads the public prayer, and were and how we worship are often based upon tradition and not scripture. Let us beware, do not condemn someone just because they violate our tradition!
Conclusion: Let us learn from the persecution of Jesus:
1. Those who are helped by God are not always faithful to God.
2. Those that seem to be the most religious often turn out to be God’s enemies.
3. If men persecuted Jesus they will certainly persecute His followers.
4. People who are doing what is right are often condemned.
5. Godly works will result in persecution.