Breaking the Law With Jesus

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
 Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
(John 5:6-17 ESV)

This is a tricky passage, I think.  In other Gospel versions, Jesus quizzes the experts by saying something like “Is it lawful to do good or evil on the Sabbath?”  Jesus’ response here is not so cut and dry.  I believe that it’s a more important and applicable answer, however.

It’s all about legalism, really.  The Law forbade doing any work on the Sabbath.  The man who had been healed was first questioned because he was carrying his mat.  That was not allowed on the Sabbath.  He was breaking the Law.  But Jesus told him to pick up his mat.  What?  Surely Jesus, of all people knew the Law.  But there it is.  Jesus told this man to go against the Sabbath Law.

And then there is Jesus.  He healed on the Sabbath.  Oops.  Maybe He was unaware of what day it was.  No.  He said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”  There it is.  Our lesson.  It is never a bad time to follow God’s will.  We speak of having Jesus in our hearts but then we want to religiously follow  our rules and regulations and traditions and believe that’s good enough and that these make us “pure”.  The Apostle Paul called this idea “scubala”.  Often this word is translated “rubbish”.  I’ll leave it at that.

Some day, I might begin a study on Romans and then we can examine all that Paul says about the Law and the Christian walk, but for now, let’s just say that all the Law (any of it) can do is convict of sin.  Christians are free of the Law.  This is not a call to anarchy, however.  Christians are not free to do as they will but free to do as God wills.  This this is not to say that the Law has no purpose but it is limited and has served its purpose (defining God’s pre-Church people).

Now we are to serve God out of our relationships with Him. Not in a vacuum, but through our relationships with each other, through times of private and corporate and public worship and prayer, through faith-filled Bible study, through fellowship and working for the Kingdom.  But suffice it to say that scubala happens in our lives on this fallen planet and things aren’t cut and dry.

But our personal relationships with Jesus will provide the voice of the Holy Spirit to guide us at those times.  His is the true guidance that we need rather than sets of legal traditions.   He is still working in us and through us, after all.

God Bless,


9 thoughts on “Breaking the Law With Jesus

  1. I had a church pastor one time who spent a year and a half teaching us Romans, I can’t promise I’ll be here at the end if you do that, but then again you get to the point A Lot faster than he did! lol..

    I feel that the passage you bring up speaks to the need to practice forgiveness of those who do things that we don’t agree with or that are unlawful, because not one of us can follow the letter of the law 100% of the time. Would they have wanted the man to leave his mat next to the pool? Would they have wanted him not to rise but to continue to be a burden to himself and society? He had no other choice but to do what needed to be done irregardless of what day it was….right?

    Thank you for the post and reading my comment.
    God Bless


    • It also points to a problem with legalism. Legalists believe that they are righteous in doing what they do because God told someone to do it. (Simplistic but you get what I mean, I think). Sometimes, they will categorize such actions under other names like “purity”. Again, this is something for another article about the purpose of the Law (to seperate the Hebrews from the rest of the peoples of the world). But the Law cannot make one righteous. Only faith in Jesus can do that. Following the Law is not even a good thing. Only following God’s will is good.

      God Bless,



  2. I don’t know if you read my posting on Introduction to the Law in the New Testament, but I talked about how the way that we view the Law and the way that the Jews viewed the Law was totally different. There are four parts – the ceremonious, the civil, the ethical, and the moral. The New Testament is primarily concerned with keeping the ethical Law, but getting rid of the ceremonious law, where the Law was only done for outward show. Sadly, paganism had creeped its way into the early church and took away the original intention of the New Testament writings. I am not saying that we will be anarchists if we don’t follow the Law, but you are right to say that it will convict us of sin, but we don’t have to be obsessed with it. It is only meant like a guideline and teacher like Paul says in Galatians. Great Post.


    • Calvin compared the 10 Commandments, for example, to a measuring stick. Think of it this way: Instead of reading them as “thou shalt not…” or “Do not..” Think “You WILL not….” Maybe even expand it a bit to say, “When I am walking in christ, I will not . . ”



  3. Reblogged this on Christopher C. Randolph and commented:

    Another post from yesteryear. I guess you could say that this bog is going “green” and doing a bit of recycling. This one kind of hits on the flipside of the coin of what we’ve been discussing. Legalism. Some will agree and some will not. But there it is in Scripture. Do you follow Christ or the Law? You can’t do both.

    God Bless



  4. I’m not arguing with your conclusion, but one of your premises is that Jesus is making a point to the Pharisees about the Law, rather than their spurious interpretations of the Law. One can bend this passage however they want, but Jesus is pretty clear that He did not violate the Sabbath by healing this man, but rather He violated the Pharisees’ concept of Sabbath.

    It is possible to follow Jesus AND the Law, but only by following Jesus will one be saved…


    • I would counter that by saying that one may find one’s self following the Law as one follows Jesus but one will be hard pressed to follow Jesus by following the Law. In fact, I think Paul makes the argument that the Law purposefully demonstrates this, as does the story in question.


  5. the blogworld is a fascinating thing to me,…..i have been bouncing back of forth from 3 different posts that chris has here,….which is more of a challenge than i thought it would be,…………i am writing a piece called the “VIRTUALCHURCH”……

    the reason why is very simple, simple in fact,…that i had missed it for the longest time. there are many homebound christians in this world. for many different reasons too. so,…where would they (myself included) go to be able to “have church???” well,…here we all are! and more by the day it seems. recently there appears to have been a falling away of sorts from the blogworld…this last week in particular, there has been very little activity. i’m not sure if it has do with summer, or activities, or vacations, etc,……but something has slowed.

    i myself have seen this because the internet is how i interact and fellowship with others in the world…there is another thing i have noticed as well…..many of us do not actually communicate with one another. i have yet to understand why not. we have contact with one another,…but,…it seems that we are lacking in closeness. seemingly,…we live on little “cyberislands” in the “crowd” so to speak,…but yet,….a cyberisland unto our self……..

    thus the “VIRTUALCHURCH”,…..when we gather as christians we are supposed to wear our cloak of righteousness…….this has been blurred over a couple thousand years and now is viewed as “putting on our sunday best”………in doing so,…we simply make the outside appear “nice” thus “non offensive” to the religious fashion police,…….because God forbid their “faith” might have to be strong enough to accept someone who doesn’t “look quite right”……….uuuggghhhhh…

    the cloak of righteousness has to do with our attitude,…and our “spirit” as we are gathered,…..thus ensuring a spiritual unity,…….of the love of jesus……that said, when we love another as jesus loves us,….powerful and Godly things will happen. even through the internet. where two, or more are gathered in His name,…there He will be also. correct???

    more in a while


  6. hey christopher dude! how are you doing!!!!? i have quite a unique day today,,…in a good way too!!! so,….still in my good mood,…i’m gonna toss a few random thought question things out here now, ok??? just knock em around and take em at face value,…i do this in good clean fun,….ok????

    but before i do my tidbit rambling,…i ask that you check this out, k?

    the (my),…(our???) christian spiritual “life”, and growing/maturing in a lively faith process,….is, “no matter how peculiar this may sound”,… at the “exact” same time a “dying” process of, for, and to, our sinful, selfish, human nature……kinda cool, huh?

    actually one happens because of, or as a result of, the other,….and,….vice-versa…

    john the baptist “smacked the nail” on the head with a fifty pound hammer when he said,….”I MUST DECREASE,..SO THAT HE MAY INCREASE”….

    now,..i just now had this scripture come to me, just before i began typing this,…fact is,…i myself have NEVER heard anyone else ever let the simple truth of this scripture be “spoken” in a manner to strengthen our faith,……it was usually seen as a “foreshadowing” to john’s beheading,….anyway,…movin right along….

    we are to “die daily”,…correct? thus mortifying the deeds done in our bodies…..

    actually,…in fact, i will write a new post concerning the live, die, increase, decrease, stuff soon,…..for now,….my tid bit ramble,…….lol!!!!

    comin right up,……one sec,…..


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