The Exchange

John 5:9-11 WEB

Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. [10] So the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.” [11] He answered them, “He who made me well, the same said to me, ‘Take up your mat, and walk.’ ”


A man with an infirmity for 38 years was miraculously healed and all the religious leaders could do was criticize. The leaders of Judaism, in their pursuit of obedience to God, had made up hundreds of rules for practical daily living. Now, with God working in their midst they could not see Him. Instead, all they could see was Jesus inciting rule-breaking.

It is probably difficult to overestimate how often we substitute the teachings of man for the teachings of God. Jesus had healed a man and the Jewish leaders did not approve. The rules they created to be zealous for God had become an idol. The rules are an idol because the religious leaders had become more loyal to the rules than to God.

How did the leaders of Judaism fall into idolatry? They forgot the lesson of Moses striking the rock when God told him to speak to it. (Num 20:7-12) They forgot that God does not do everything the same every time. The religious leaders also forgot the lesson of the Israelites at the Mountain of God. They did not want to talk to God, instead, they preferred a book of rules to follow. They rejected knowing God personally. (Exodus 20:19) In the same way, the religious leaders of Jesus’ time had created rules that eliminated the need to trust God directly. They substituted teachings about God for God.


Lord Jesus, please help me recognize idolatry in my life so that I may repent. Lord, please help me care more about our relationship than I care about people’s approval. Please help me, love, without compromise. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

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