Daily Readings in John, Day Fifteen - Reservoir Church
Image Map
Image Map

Daily Readings in John, Day Fifteen

October 17, 2017

John 5:9b-18 (NRSV)

Now that day was a sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.” 18 For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.

I’m tempted to laser in on the utter strangeness of Jesus’ warning to the formerly paralyzed man when they cross paths again. What’s the sin he’s warning about? And after decades of disability that grew into a disempowered, vulnerable existence within a victim mindset, what’s this worse thing that could happen?

But to focus on that line would be to do the same thing that these officials are doing, to miss the forest for the trees, and for a not very interesting patch of trees at that.

Yesterday, we talked about the ways we can become attached to our own illness. We settle into stories of our problems that define us and can be unsettled by the possibility of change.

Today, we see how a whole system can become attached to the victims that define it. The officials of Jerusalem, as John paints them, aren’t especially interested in this man being well. They see a man who is healthy for the first time in decades, and they’re troubled that he’s carrying the mat he used to lie upon. Change, however good it is for this man, troubles them.

They need a society where everyone follows the rules on the day of rest, and sick people don’t suddenly get well, and people don’t talk like they have some special connection to God. And change to this system troubles them, even angers them.

Jesus is not troubled my change, though, because he isn’t directed by societal norms and stability but by his sense of what his parent-God is up to today. Dad feels like working on a day off? Well, then Jesus thinks it’s a good day to work as well.

This unique in-tuneness and intimacy with God that Jesus describes is unheard of for these officials, but in John, it’s not Jesus’ unique experience, but the destiny of all who follow Jesus, to experience God with us, and to increasingly be defined not by the way things are but by the newness God is making.

Ask God if there is something new God is doing in or around you today that you can be part of.