Thoughts on life, leadership and the movement called the church by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Easter Soul Prep Day 5: Working on the Sabbath

I want to get very practical regarding the Sabbath. In the first part of John 5, Jesus has this exchange with a man who has some kind of disability. Note that John 5:4 is missing from many Bibles. This is because most of the earliest manuscripts we have of John do not include this verse, and it is unlikely that John actually wrote the words that are in verse 4. If your Bible does not have v.4 in the body of the text (mine does not), than you can find it in a footnote at the bottom or in the margin.

But the gist of what happens is that Jesus heals the man on the Sabbath - the Holy day of rest. He does this knowingly and willingly. There is a need in front of Jesus. He can't ignore it. So, he goes to work on his day off, so to speak.

I struggle with Sabbath days. I really love relaxing and taking time to relax, but there is so much to be done, and there is always some kind of crisis on the table. There is never a moment when there is no fire to put out, not emergency, no urgent need to tend to. Never.

The tension I feel over this causes more than a small amount angst. God created the Sabbath. He gave it to us. It's suppose to be a gift, a time to focus on God, to refresh our spiritual lives.

Yet, Jesus didn't always observe it. Sometimes, he gave it up for the need staring him in the face. Should we not do the same? How much is too much? If we adhere to Sabbath without flexibility, wouldn't that be a sin, too?

There is so much more to be said about John 5. The strange comment Jesus makes in v.14 makes you wonder 'what was the guy doing?' And AFTER the reprimand, the man 'reports' him. And the long response of defense Jesus gives from v. 19 on. Tons and tons of things to unpack there.

Hope you are enjoying the journey. Tomorrow, we eat!


Ginger said...

I got the gist of the first part of the chapter...legalism versus the heart of God's work.

I really struggled with the rest of the chapter. I know Jesus was explaining who He was, but it felt a little like proof theroms from high school math. If A=B and B=C, then A=C. I understand the logic, but you still have to believe that A=B and B=C.

All that to basically say I read those parts multiple times and still feel like I'm missing something...any insight or new perspective?

John Tiller said...

Just a note to let you know that this is the first bible study that I have followed through a blog and I'm loving it! I'm reading each chapter first, with highlighter in hand, asking God to show me something new. Today he showed me three things that I hadn't seen before.

Then I dig deeper in thought and prayer on those.

Then I read the blog and He shows me something new through your thoughts and the comments of others.

What a great way to start each of my days this month! Thanks, Brian, for doing this and thanks to everyone else for your comments.

John Tiller

Brian C. Hughes said...


I can relate to your comment. When I originally posted, I had a line that said something like, "John quotes Jesus as saying some really far out stuff that's a little hard to follow or understand..." I deleted that line because I thought it might get me in trouble. But I wish I'd said it now. You are right, it does feel like we are missing something here. Jesus kind of talks in circles a little, alludes to graves and dead people hearing today but will also hear in the future and come out of the grave, etc. I'm with you, I'm not sure I get it. At least not all of it, anyway.

So, that's the joy of Scripture. Seriously. I most often feel that God gives me something unique when I really wrestle with a text I don't understand, read between the lines, ask the hard questions, engage God in the conversation.

Do that, and you will very likely find some answers. let me know when you do!

Brian C. Hughes said...

John - I've really enjoyed doing it, too. Thanks for your encouragement and your story about how it's impacting you!

Heather said...

You touched upon v.14 with "What was that guy doing!?!?" and this is a verse that has always frustrated me. As someone who has been through a lot of medical issues including some pretty serious auto-immune issues- I try not to wonder "why me?" First- it does NO good to wonder that. Second- I feel God does everything for a reason and I accept what He has given me. However, when I read this verse I makes me clearly see a connection between those who are suffering and their past sins. I also taught special education and have a heart for children with special needs. I have had conversations with Christians that truly believe that those born with disabilities or mental illness are somehow suffering because of past sins or sins of their parents...the list goes on and on. That really doesn't sit well with me as I see just joy and wonder in these children and more than anything I see God in them. What they taught me was much more than what I taught them. Another fight between the modern world and the word of God I suppose.