Jesus rattles the religious leaders and elites. He does it all the time. It is intentional. No “I did not mean to do that” kind of world with our Master.
- One day, a Sunday, He healed someone.
- The religious leaders criticized Him.
- “The Law” did not allow for that.
- No work. Period!!
It did not stop Jesus. All Jesus does is what He sees the Father do. Jesus sees God working 24/7. He does the same. His mission is to be obedient to what God wants Him to do. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Jesus understands that God’s goal is one of obedience. No wiggle room. Be obedient. That is, it.
Jesus challenges us to see what God is doing and do it. We are His ambassadors. That may get us in trouble with the religious leaders. So be it. Obedience is more important than sacrifice.
But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.
English Standard Version. (2016). (John 5:17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
The Jewish leaders did not prosecute the man who was healed, even though he had broken the law; but they did begin to persecute the Lord Jesus.
- As the guardians of the faith, the members of the Jewish Sanhedrin (the religious ruling council) had the responsibility of investigating new preachers and teachers who appeared in the land, lest some false prophet come along and lead the people astray.
- They had investigated the ministry of John the Baptist and more recently had been scrutinizing the ministry of Jesus.
Jesus had healed a demoniac on the Sabbath, so the Sanhedrin was already suspicious. In the days following the miracle recorded in John 5, Jesus would defend His disciples for picking grain on the Sabbath and would heal a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath. He deliberately challenged the legalistic traditions of the scribes and Pharisees. They had taken the Sabbath—God’s gift to man—and had transformed it into a prison house of regulations and restrictions.
When they confronted Jesus with His unlawful conduct, He simply replied that He was doing only what His Father was doing! God’s Sabbath rest had been broken by man’s sin; and ever since the fall of man, God has been seeking lost sinners and saving them. But when Jesus said, “My Father” instead of the usual “our Father,” used by the Jews, He claimed to be equal with God.
- The Jewish leaders instantly understood His claim.
- They changed their accusation from that of Sabbath-breaking to blasphemy, because Jesus claimed to be God.
- Liberal theologians who say that Jesus never claimed to be God have a difficult time with this passage.
Of course, the penalty for such blasphemy was death. It is here that the “official persecution” of Jesus began, culminating in His crucifixion. In the days that followed, our Master Jesus often confronted His enemies with their evil desire to kill Him. They hated Him without a cause. They ignored the good deeds that He performed for the helpless and hopeless, and centered their attention on destroying Him.
Jesus made Himself equal with God because He is God. This is the theme of John’s Gospel. The Jewish leaders could not disprove His claims, so they tried to destroy Him and get Him out of the way. Both in His crucifixion and His resurrection, Jesus openly affirmed His deity and turned His enemies’ weapons against them.