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.

Fruit and Authority

John 5:9-17 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.’ ” [12] Then they asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your mat, and walk’?” [13] But he who was healed didn’t know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a crowd being in the place. [14] Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” [15] The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. [16] For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath. [17] But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.”


The works of Jesus are good fruit. As Christians, we are often told that we should evaluate the fruit of a person’s life. In the above passage, Jesus has just healed, delivered, and restored a man. Jesus’ works bore good fruit. It is understandable that the healed man felt gratitude and loyalty to Jesus. Still, the man was under Jewish law.

The healed man had honor for the authority of the religious leaders. So, in accordance with the law, he went to the leaders to be declared healed. Here is where something interesting happens, the man who was healed followed the fruit. That is, he judged the fruit and showed loyalty to Jesus. Also, just a few lines later the man is telling the Jewish leaders what they want to know. The man did not dishonor the legitimate authority of the religious leaders.

Jesus was a man under authority. He watched and prayed and did what the Father showed him. When the Father showed him healing on the Sabbath, he obeyed. It did not matter doing a healing on the Sabbath was the best way to get into trouble with the religious leaders. Accordingly, it was not long until Jesus was challenged by religious hypocrisy.

The Jewish leaders persecuted Jesus for working on the Sabbath. Jesus answers them boldly when he says he is under the authority of the Father. In the same way believers are to name Jesus, Jesus named the Father. He truly did suffer as we do today. He faced challenges on behalf of the Father to serve His glory. He trusted the Father enough to obey him. He trusted the Father enough to bear good fruit.


Lord Jesus, please help me trust you enough to obey your word. Help me see what you are doing so that I may join in the work. Please forgive my love for the approval of others. Help me trust, obey, and bear good fruit. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Healed or Restored?

John 5:4-9 WEB

for an angel went down at certain times into the pool, and stirred up the water. Whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. [5] A certain man was there, who had been sick for thirty-eight years. [6] When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been sick for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be made well?” [7] The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, another steps down before me.” [8] Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.” [9] Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked. Now it was the Sabbath on that day.


Being healed and being restored are two different things. A doctor can heal but they cannot restore. A boss at work or family leader may be able to restore but they cannot heal. In the above text, Jesus healed the man and restored him. Jesus’ admonition to take up his mat and walk deals with the man’s need to be both healed and restored.

When Jesus asks the man if he wants to be healed, the man answers indirectly and says, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool…” Jesus asked a question about the man’s situation and the man immediately blames those around him. So, this is the first thing Jesus deals with in this newly healed man when he says, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.”

Notice the Lord did not tell someone to help the man to the water. Nor did he reprimand those around for not caring about the man. No one questioned anyone’s motives. Jesus simply challenges the man to walk in the Spirit. He challenges the man to do the impossible, get up.

So, the man got up. He did not wait to be asked again. He did not wait for a full explanation of how he was supposed to get up. The man waiting for 38 years by the pool quickly took ahold of the opportunity the Lord gave him, and he got up and walked.

The opportunity to be healed came with a specific challenge. The man had to pick up his bedroll on the sabbath to obey the Lord. This was direct disobedience to the fathers of the Jewish faith who said a person cannot carry their bed on the sabbath. Yet, obeying the fathers did not get the man healed.

For 38 years the man’s life was bankrupted by his illness. Yet in one simple conversation, Jesus heals him, challenges his faith, restores him, and gives him the opportunity to publicly name Jesus when asked why he is carrying his bedroll. When Jesus heals, he does a complete work. When we try to get people healed without the Spirit of God, the magnitudes of goodness are not there.  On the other hand, the goodness of Jesus’ intervention seeps into all the areas and lives connected to the person being healed.


Lord Jesus, please increase my belief in your willingness to heal. Help me say yes when you ask me hard questions. Help me desire your wholeness more than I desire the world’s acceptance. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.