Wednesday, May 4, 2011

By The Bethesda Pool: Keeping The Sabbath

The apostle John gave an important detail to this story,
...Now that day was the Sabbath. [John 5:9b]
All this happened on the Sabbath. Jesus must have gone to the temple to worship, and as He walked out, He saw that great colonnaded Pool of Bethesda and was drawn to all those in need there. What He did was completely in keeping with what God said pleases Him in keeping the Sabbath, as you can see in how the prophet Isaiah described God's idea of the perfect Sabbath.

But keeping the Sabbath had undergone a huge overhaul since the days Isaiah had written those words. Here's how it all began:

(1)After creating all that is, God rested, back in Genesis chapter 2, which is where the law of the Sabbath was established, the oldest law in human history.

(2) In Exodus God explained that the Sabbath was to be set aside as a holy day, for worship, not for work. But the Israelites had ignored God’s Sabbath laws, and were sent into exile because of it, so the land could have all the Sabbath years the people had robbed it of.

(3) Seventy years later, the Jews returned to Jerusalem and fell into their old habits almost right away, doing commerce on the Sabbath with the surrounding pagans. The people were carrying loads into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day in preparation for their work on the next day.

Nehemiah, the leader at that time, said they were not to carry loads on the Sabbath. They were stop thinking that the Sabbath day was prep day for another work day. Nehemiah appointed the priest Ezra to teach the people all of God’s law on a regular basis, and help them to keep all the law.

(4) Their legacy, four hundred years later, were the scribes and teachers of the law in Jesus’ day. But they had since added on 39 exhaustive, complicated chapters to the Mishnah on how to keep the Sabbath.

Here’s one example. If you spit on the ground and it hit the dirt, that was work. A furrow would form, so it was called plowing. But if the spit hit a rock, then no furrow, so you were safe. They had made the Sabbath a burden for the people.

The religious rulers were busy making sure people were keeping the rules, instead of ministering to the ailing people at the pool, within view of the temple mount. Instead of asking where they could meet this man who could heal people, they wanted to know who was the man who had broken one of their Sabbath rules. What “rules” do you and I allow to get in the way of compassion?

Shortly thereafter Jesus found the man at the temple, probably giving his thank offering to God, according to the Law, for being healed, and Jesus explained to him that he had to stop sinning so nothing worse would happen. Somehow the man knew this was Jesus Messiah, and for whatever reason, went back to the Jewish authorities to tell them
Jesus has the power to restore
* What is weakening your emotional life, or enfeebling your spiritual life?

* How willing are you to get well?

* Willing enough to turn to Jesus, Who knows your whole story, and obey what He tells you to do?

You won’t know what Jesus can do for you until you obey His commands.

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