Monday after Misericordias Domini
Scripture: St. John 5:1-17 (NKJV)
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.
5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.
10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” 11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.'” 12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.
14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” 15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
Our text for today is the account of Jesus healing of the man who was lying near the pool of Bethesda. One would think that such a miracle would be received with much praise by everyone who knew the condition of this poor man. Yet, we are told that the Jews “sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.” Why such anger toward Jesus?
Both the Jews and Jesus knew the Third Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. The Jews thought Jesus had broken this commandment by healing on the Sabbath. Furthermore, by telling the man to carry his bed Jesus had, in the minds of the Jews, caused the man to sin. We know Jesus didn’t break the commandment nor would He lead someone else sin. The essence of the commandment isn’t found in the amount of work we do or don’t do on the Sabbath.
Luther wrote in his Large Catechism concerning this commandment: “At whatever hour, then, God’s Word is taught, preached, heard, read or meditated upon, there the person, day, and work are sanctified thereby, not because of the external work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all.” The key to keeping this commandment and any commandment is not found in how well we think we keep them or how hard we try to keep them. Instead, we keep the commandments by confessing we have broken them and by putting our trust in the One Who has kept the whole Law for us.
We give thanks to Jesus that He never stops working in us by the Holy Spirit who through His Word brings us to confess our sins and to trust in Him. “Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word. Amen.”