“But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh until now, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” John 5:17-18 (Read v. 1-18)
Did Jesus sin when He, on the sabbath day, healed the man at the Pool of Bethesda who had been disabled for 38 years? Did Jesus sin when He told this man to stand up, pick up his bed and walk? The Jewish leaders accused Him of breaking the sabbath by not waiting until after the sabbath to help this man. They also accused Jesus of disregarding the sabbath by telling this man to carry his bed and walk on the seventh day.
On other occasions, Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of his accusers by reminding them that even they would lift an animal out of a pit on the sabbath; reminding them that David and his men were not held guilty for eating the showbread only the priests were normally permitted to eat when he and his men were hungry; reminding them that it is lawful to do good on the sabbath; and telling them He is Lord of the sabbath (cf. Matt. 12:1-12; Luke 6:1-11; 13:10-17; 14:1-6). On this occasion, Jesus pointed out an even greater truth to justify His actions: “My Father worketh until now, and I work.”
While God rested on the seventh day from His work of creating the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, God did not cease working to preserve all things and to care for His creatures.
The Bible tells us in Nehemiah 9:6: “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.”
Notice that God has made all things (in the past) but that He also “preserves them all” (in the present).
And as the Father works, so does the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Hebrews 1:1-3, we learn that “God … hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Again note that the Son created all things (in the past) but that He continues in the present to care for and preserve “all things by the word of His power.”
So, for our Lord Jesus to care for a created being, this invalid man, and to heal him on the sabbath was perfectly in line with His ongoing work of “upholding all things by the word of his power.” And it certainly shows us that He is Lord of the sabbath, for the sabbath day was made to honor Him and to devote ourselves to His Word and His work (cf. Matt. 12:8; Isa. 58:13-14).
His Jewish audience recognized the truth Jesus expressed — that He was claiming to be God’s Son, equal with God. We read: “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”
Though the Jews recognized Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God and equal with God, did they believe it?
It is as John writes in the first chapter of his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. … He came to his own, and his own received him not” (1-5,11).
Instead of recognizing the obvious truth — after all, who alone can just say the word and heal a man who had been disabled and unable to walk for 38 years? — they rejected Jesus and accused Him of breaking their sabbath laws. And when Jesus affirmed the fact that He is God the Son in human flesh and was doing the work of His Father in heaven, they accused Him of blasphemy and sought to kill Him!
The question you and I need to consider is this: Do we recognize that Jesus is God Himself in human flesh, who came into this world a true man to redeem us by fulfilling the righteous demands of God’s law and then suffering the just punishment for our sins and the sins of all by His death on the cross? Do we place our faith in Him and the redemptive work He accomplished for us? Or do we accuse Him of sin for pointing out the emptiness of our attempts to be righteous in God’s eyes with our own works and man-made traditions? Do we accuse Him of blasphemy for claiming to be God Himself and the only way of salvation?
As Jesus said, “My Father worketh until now, and I work.” God has been at work from the very beginning to send a Savior to crush the head of the old evil foe and to redeem us from sin and death (cf. Gen. 3:15; 12:3; 22:18; Psalm 130:7-8; Isa. 9:6-7; 52:13 — 53:12; etc.); and Jesus, God the Son in human flesh, continued that work and went to the cross for us to pay the price for our sins and redeem us (cf. Gal. 4:4-5; Matt. 1; Luke 2; John 19; etc.). Even now, He works when He sends men to preach His Word to us and grants us His Holy Spirit so that we might believe the Gospel and place our faith in Him (cf. Eph. 4:8-16; Act 2:38-39; Eph. 1:13-14).
Jesus works, even on the sabbath, to care for our needs and especially to meet our greatest need — forgiveness for all our sins and new life through faith in His name! Don’t reject Him! Look to Him in faith for pardon and forgiveness! Trust in Him to heal your soul!
O dearest Jesus, Son of God and Son of man, grant me healing for my soul. Pardon my sins for the sake of Your atoning sacrifice in my stead and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from Revised 1833 Webster Version of the Bible.]