You’d think that once you experienced GOD, your life would change for the better – you’d want to see more of God, you’d follow JESUS, you’d be grateful, you’d start treating people better, etc. But sometimes it doesn’t happen like that. Sometimes you’re setup for a trap. – This story features people who saw Jesus’ love and power, and preferred something else.
The importance of the story comes to us in 5:9b. It is the Sabbath when Jesus heals the man, and immediately the story takes an abrupt and unsettling turn. Jerusalem had always been a place of religious zeal (as it is today), and now a self-appointed enforcer of Sabbath law upbraids the man (5:10). The Jews protected the Sabbath and held it aloft as a vital symbol of Jewish culture and religion.9 The oral laws of Judaism at this time (reflected in the Mishnah) outlined thirty-nine categories of things that were forbidden on Sabbath, and carrying something such as a bed from one place to another was prohibited (Shabbath 7:2). The story has taken an ominous turn. For the first time in the Gospel, Jesus’ opponents show themselves in all their hostility. Their question shifts rapidly from the error of the healed man to the identity of the healer who has incited this breach of law: “Who is this fellow?” (5:12). Jesus has slipped away (5:13b), as was his pattern following miracles (cf. 6:15). In 5:16–18 these opponents will summarize their complaint against Jesus.
Is Jesus making some link between sin and physical ills? Interpreters have struggled with the meaning of this verse. No doubt Jesus’ exhortation must be connected to his warning here. The man’s sin and his condition are linked. Scripture indicates that some tragedies may be the result of specific sins (1 Cor. 11:30), and this may be why Jesus has chosen the man for healing. There were two levels at which God needed to work in him (cf. Mark 2:1– 12). But those with an infirmity have not necessarily sinned, and those who sin do not necessarily endure suffering as a consequence. Luke 13:1–5 and John 9:3 provide Jesus’ correction of that sort of thinking. Suffering is not an index of a person’s sin. But having said that, specific suffering may still come from specific sins. The most natural reading of the verse suggests that Jesus is pointing the man to repentance because in his case there is such a link. – Gary Burge
The heart of it seems to be Jesus’ belief that Israel’s God was then and there in the process of launching the new creation. And somehow this new creation was superseding the old one… God was healing the sorry, sick old world, and though there might come a time for rest (when Jesus’ own work was finished, maybe: see 19:28–30), at the moment it was time for the work of new creation to go forward. Especially, from John’s point of view, if the ‘signs’ correspond in some way to the ‘days’ of the new creation… We can hardly expect such a viewpoint to be popular among the law-observant Judaeans. Here we meet the sharpest opposition so far. As the ‘signs’ build up, so the reaction to them becomes fiercer; people begin to realize just what it will cost to follow where these signs are pointing… If Jesus’ work of healing and new creation was going forward, what was holding it up? Not just opposition, but also sin. There is a dark mystery here, because in the present case Jesus implies that the crippled man had got into his present condition because of his own sin (verse 14), but four chapters later Jesus also insists that the condition of the man born blind had nothing to do with anyone’s sin (9:1–3). It seems that some sicknesses may be related to some sins, but you can’t and shouldn’t deduce the one from the other. We see here, in fact, the expansion and outworking of the short, sad statement in the gospel Prologue (1:10–11): ‘He came to his own, and his own didn’t accept him.’ They were not ready for new creation, for the living Word of God to come to them with new things to say. – N.T. Wright
When Jesus said “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working,” He was saying that the naturalistic understanding of the universe is wrong. He was denying that God is some nebulous power who merely started the ball rolling. Instead, He was affirming that God is the omnipotent Lord who governs everything that He makes from moment to moment. That’s why this verse is so important it teaches us so much about the nature of God and of Christ. Though the work of creation was completed at the end of the sixth (lay, God’s involvement with His creation didn’t stop. In fact, Jesus said, it continues even until now… There was something subtle in this statement from Jesus.
– R.C. Sproul
Q & A 103 What is God’s will for you in the fourth commandment?
A. First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained,1 and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I diligently attend the assembly of God’s people2 to learn what God’s Word teaches,3 to participate in the sacraments,4 to pray to God publicly,5 and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.6
Second, that every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through his Spirit, and so begin in this life the eternal Sabbath.7
1 Deut. 6:4-9, 20-25; 1 Cor. 9:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:13-17; Tit. 1:5 2 Deut. 12:5-12; Ps. 40:9-10; 68:26; Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:23-25 3 Rom. 10:14-17; 1 Cor. 14:31-32; 1 Tim. 4:13 4 1 Cor. 11:23-25 5 Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:1 6 Ps. 50:14; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8 & 9 7 Isa. 66:23; Heb. 4:9-11