Published November 8, 2016
"Strict Rules Or Jesus"
John 5 begins with an interesting story. Many sick people lay beside the Pool of Bethesda. When an angel would stir the water, as they believed, whoever stepped in first would be made well of whatever disease they had.
A certain man had been lame for thirty-eight years. He was laying beside the pool of Bethesda, among the crowd, hoping to get into the water first after an angel had visited.
Jesus knew the man's condition and asked if he wanted to be made well. But the man told him that he didn't have anyone to help him into the water. Jesus then told the man to get up, take his bed and walk.
Immediately, the man was made well, took up his bed and walked. That day was the Sabbath.
The next part of the story is where the Jewish religious leaders, who knew the man had been sick for many years, saw the man walking and carrying his bed. Although they knew he had been lame for 38 years, they didn't rejoice with him. In fact, rather than rejoicing with him in his healing they were more concerned with the rules that he broke. They actually asked him what business he had carrying his bed on the Sabbath!
When we look back to the Old Testament Scriptures, there were some pretty precise rules. Exodus 20 gives the ten commandments that God gave. The commandments were rules we needed for relating to God and relating to other people. If obeyed, they were designed to make life easier, not to make it harder. These commandments were relational and designed to direct us in how we care about people. They were not rules just for the sake of having rules. They were rules for the sake of people.
The New Testament Jews were determined to keep the laws and the rules. They were very adamant about it. But they forgot that the purpose of those rules was to worship God and to care for people. So it was obvious that when they saw the newly-healed man, they would not rejoice at his healing. Instead, they would jump on him for breaking the law.
Perhaps we haven't changed much from those Jews. The Bible was given, not to point out how bad we are and to keep us in bondage, but to show us God's grace through Jesus and tell us how free we are to be all that God designed us to be.
How do we view people who do "worse things" than we do?
- Do we require them to clean up their act or do we accept them and guide them into the Word so they see what the given guidelines are and how those guidelines can make their life better?
- Do we point out the rules or point them to Jesus?
- Do we relate in a way to encourage them to make Jesus Lord of their lives or do we tell them how worthless they are if they don't "get it all together?"
- Do we dwell on the laws of God and man or do we point them to a relationship with Jesus and His church?
Ultimately, it is a matter of life or death.
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