John Message #15 “Sabbath Rest” Ed Miller March 13, 2024

(Listen to the audio above while following along in the transcript below which is also available for download from

Welcome to our gathering.  That indispensable principle of all Bible study is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit; only the Lord can reveal the Lord.  There are two verses I’d like to share before we begin.  One is from Luke 24:45, “He opened their minds to understand the scripture.”  The other verse is Acts 16:14, “He opened her heart to respond.”  That was Lydia.  So, we’re going to pray that He’ll open our minds to make things clear and then He’ll open our hearts that He would draw us to respond.  Let’s pray.

Our Father, thank You for Your precious word, for gathering us together.  We just pray, Lord, that the indwelling Holy Spirit would turn our heart again, our spirits, to behold the Lord Jesus in a fresh and living way.  We thank You, Lord, that we can trust You to meet with us; You know our hearts, our capacities, our hungers.  Meet us where we are and take us where You would have us.  We ask in the all-prevailing name of our Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Welcome to our meditations from the gospel of John, and not on the gospel of John.  We are here to meditate on the Lord Jesus.  All of our gatherings are to see Him.  In our study of this gospel, we’ve been following the reasons that John said that the Holy Spirit led him to write it.  Once again, John 20:31, “These have been written,” now he’s going to give us a reason, “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.”  The reason John wrote the gospel of John, there are actually three reasons—so, you would know the Lord, so you would believe, and so that you would enjoy, that you would have experienced that life.  As we go through the gospel of John, we’re constantly saying, “How does this passage teach me to know the Lord?  How does this passage teach me to trust the Lord?  How does this passage teach me to enjoy the Lord?  That’s why he gave the gospel and that’s our approach.

So far now we’re in John 5 and the first nine verses are the story of the healing of the crippled man at Bethesda, and then the rest of the chapter, actually it’s a long chapter, verses 10-47 is the reaction to that miracle.  The miracle is only nine verses but then the reaction to that is the entire rest of the chapter. 

We’ve only had time in our introduction to this chapter to look at just the miracle itself.  I’m not going to revisit in review the manuscript problems with verse 3 & 4.  If you missed that you can get the tape on that.  I suggested one way to enter into the reality of this story is to contrast it with the story we’ve already done, the woman of Samaria.  I suggested, also, that there were two huge contrasts.  We looked at the first one, but let me review it and then we’ll pick up the second one.

The first contrast had to do with the bubbling spring.  In John 4:13, this is His dealing with the woman of Samaria, “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never thirst.  The water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life.  In the John 4 passage, the bubbling spring is in her heart, a fountain within, a spring within bubbling up, and according to chapter 7, not only bubbling up but bubbling out.  Listen to John 7:38, “He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’  This He spoke of the Spirit of those who believe were to receive.”  In chapter 4 you have the well, the spring in your heart, bubbling up and bubbling over, and it says it’s to rivers, plural, of living water.  Then He identifies the fountain, the spring, “This He spoke of the Spirit.”  The Holy Spirit in your heart is a spring, it’s a Person.  The spring in your heart is not a philosophy, it’s not a religion, it’s not a system of works, it’s a living Person, the Holy Spirit.

In contrast to that we’ve got the story in chapter 5:3, “In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.  This was not a spring; this is standing water.  This is a cistern that often runs dry.  In according to verse 2, there were five porticos, like porches, and all the sick would sit there and they’d wait because they believed that sometimes an angel would show up and stir up the pool, and every now and then when that happened, the first one in the pool would be cured of whatever disease they had.  As soon as they saw a bubble or a movement in that water, they would have a mad dash.  They didn’t care about their brothers; they just wanted to be the first one in, because the first one in is the one that would get cured.  You can imagine how these hopeless sitting around this body of water, and for many years they believed that an angel would come, and then if they got in there first, then they could get healed.  But the contrast, would you rather have a spring in your heart, the Life of God bubbling up and bubbling over, or would you rather sit and wait and look at a body of standing water, waiting for that thing to stir up?

At Bethesda, when Jesus walked through, they didn’t focus on Him; they were too busy looking at the water.  They’re just focused on this vanity, this superstition, hoping that some day it would stir and they would have their turn.  It’s interesting that God gives how long the man had been sick.  Verse 5, “The man had been ill thirty-eight years.”  Here he is thirty eight years, and he’s back at this pool just looking and hoping, and his reasoning was in verse 7, “The sick man answered and said, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up.  While they are coming, another steps down before me.’”  So, this is first come first served; whoever gets in first wins.  He said, “I don’t have anybody trying to help me because they’re all trying to get in first. 

Let’s say there was somebody that tried to help him, and they laid hold of him and they picked him up and they threw him into the pool, but he was second and not first.  He would drown because he’s crippled; he can’t swim.  This was the pitiful site at Bethesda and I say it’s in contrast.  And we read the results of the bubbling fountain within.  John 4:29, “’Come see a man who told me all things I’ve done.  This is not the Christ, is it?’ And they went out of the city and were coming to Him.  Verse 39, “From that city, many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all things that I have ever done.’”  Then in verse 41, “Many more believed because of His word.  They were saying to the woman, ‘It’s no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

The first contrast is a bubbling fountain in here, or a hope for one out there.  The second contrast is the over-flow from the bubbling fountain, a whole city, the Samaritans came to know the Lord.  It was a wonderful reaction; it was positive.  On the other side, the reaction of the religious Pharisees to this healed man from Bethesda, John 5:15, “The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.”  Well, that’s like the Samaritan woman; she said it was Jesus.  “For this reason, the Jews were persecuting Jesus.”  That’s a contrast!  When the woman said that it was Jesus, the whole city came to Christ.  When the man said that it was Jesus, they began to persecute Jesus because He was doing this on the Sabbath Day.  In verse 17, “He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.  For this reason, therefore, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He was not only breaking the Sabbath, but He was calling God his own Father, making Himself equal with God.”

Now, seeking to persecute Jesus and to kill Jesus is a lot different than running to Jesus to find salvation and Life in Him.  There’s a passage that explains the theology of this, so I’m going to ask you to follow along.  2 Corinthians 2:14, “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifest through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  We are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one, an aroma from death to death, and to the other, an aroma from life to Life.”  That woman was an aroma of Christ from life to Life.  That man was an aroma of Christ from death to death.

If you have met Christ in reality—I’m not just saying if you are religious—and have honestly met with the Lord, like the Samaritan woman did, and like this crippled man at Bethesda did, you ARE an aroma of Christ.  It cannot be avoided.  Notice the emphasis in that passage.  It says that it’s a manifestation of Christ; this is ministry.  I think this is the single greatest verse in all the Bible, Old or New Testament (I could be proved wrong on that), but I think this is the greatest single verse on what Christian ministry is, and not only Christian ministry but what Christian life is, what it really is.

Notice the verse says, “You are a fragrance of Christ to God.”  I want you to see the direction.  Your life is filled with Christ, but it’s God-ward; it’s a ministry to God, and then it says, “among men,” a ministry of Christ to God among men.  Usually, when we think of ministry, it’s horizontal.  We say it’s among men, and so we start to think, “How can we serve, how can we give?  We go on visitation, we’ll bring some food, we’ll try to win them to the Lord, we’ll witness, we’ll visit the hospital, we’ll go to the jails, we’ll go to the beach, we’re going to share the gospel; we’re going to serve.”  You haven’t learned to serve until you are a fragrance of Christ to God.  Once you understand that, the rest is automatic.  You are a fragrance of Christ to God, and you live just to please Him, period; that’s the Christian life, and that’s ministry. 

But that fragrance is being smelled by other people, and as you live your life, they are sniffing and they’re watching you and they’re smelling, and to some it’s an aroma of life.  They say, “Praise God for such a person on the earth!  Praise God, Christ came in and they’re so wonderful, and they minister and it’s so beautiful!”  Others smell the same fragrance, Christ, and they say, “Away with that; you went crazy and you got religion; you’re a fanatic and have gone off the rails.  What is wrong with you?  You’re crazy and odd.”  That’s always the reaction; fragrance to the Lord and others are watching; some receive the Lord and some reject the Lord.  In the case of the Samaritan she was a fragrance of Christ to God and they received the Lord.  In the case that we’re looking at now, he was a fragrance of Christ to God, and they rejected.  So, we want to take a couple of moments looking at that.

God is going to demonstrate through this healed man, actually what it means to be that fragrance of Christ to God.  According to the Corinthian passage, its says, “Anywhere, in all places and at all time.”  This isn’t just once in a while; this is our life, in all places and at all times, whatever you do and whatever you say, if you’re a fragrance of Christ to God, you’re going to have a testimony, and it will be either positive or negative.  For those who are not saved, for those who are perishing, it will just be the opposite effect, and they’re to resist and you’re going to be delegated to some cult or something like that.

Let me give a couple of verses that really makes it, in my heart, really clear.  One is 1 Corinthians 1:18, “The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it’s the power of God.”  It’s foolishness, and so, for the perishing when they smell Christ in your life, when Christ is manifest through you, it’s not only that they don’t get it and they call it foolishness, but according to 1 Corinthians 2:14, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, and they are foolishness to him; he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”  He can’t.  No matter how hard he tries to understand the Christian, he’s not going to get it until he comes to Christ.  That’s why Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, “Unless a man is born again, he can’t see it and he can’t perceive it; he can’t get it.”  If you think, or I think, “The way we’re going to get people saved is to make it clear enough so that they understand it,” forget it; they are not going to understand.  You can argue your head off, you can make it as simple as pie; they are not going to get it.  They can’t get it until they smell the aroma of Christ, and if they smell that and God works in their heart, He’s going to draw them to Him and it will be life to Life.  So, the Samaritan woman was an aroma of Christ resulting in Life, and the other man was the opposite.

I was going to illustrate that further from the prophet Micah 5.  You’ll see a couple of verses there, but I’m going to skip over that.  In your leisure you can read that, but it’s exactly the same thing; our ministry is positive and negative, but you’ll see that in Micah.

I want to return to the text in chapter 5 and look a little closer.  The Holy Spirit has given three things in this story that are representative.  In other words, that contain a great principle of life.  The first is the place, Bethesda itself.  That is a representative place, and the principle is it’s the place of superstition.  We already looked at that.  Then, the condition of the crippled guy is going to become a picture of some reality.  Then, the last and the most important in the context is the Sabbath Day is going to become a picture.  He did this miracle on the Sabbath Day. 

We’ve already looked at the place as the place of superstition.  Let’s take a moment and look at how this crippled man becomes a picture.  There were others there, too.  In fact, in verse 3 it says, “In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, withered,” why did He pick this particular one?  He could have gone to any one of them and done a healing.  I’m certain there were other sicknesses here; that’s not all of them.  I’m sure there were lepers there, and who knows how many sicknesses.  They were all under these five porches.  According to the original, that’s sort of like a carport; they weren’t closed in but it kept them from the weather.  They would sit under these pots until some angel came.  But the Holy Spirit homes in on this one man.  I think there is a key in verse 14, “Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘Behold, you have become well.  Do not sin anymore, so nothing worse happens to you.’”  When he said, “Do not sin anymore,” I think there is little doubt that he was in the temple praising God, because he was thirty-eight years messed up, and now he’s healed.  But that comment of the Lord Jesus to me implies that his handicap, he was paralyzed happened because of some sin.  He did something in his younger life that caused him to be crippled. 

So, the Lord chose him to illustrate sin and the consequences of sin.  He’s not going to only heal a crippled man so that he can walk, but this is also a parable of salvation.  This is not only a cripple; it’s a sinful cripple.  God is going to raise a sinful cripple, and in case you didn’t get it, yet, we are sinful cripples, and when we get saved, the Lord raises sinful cripples, and His story and what takes place is an illustration of exactly what will happen to you, and happen to me, when the Lord saves us.  This miracle, now, is a parable of salvation, not only saved from not being able to walk, but sin and the consequences.  We don’t know what sin it was; the Bible doesn’t tell us.  Maybe he got drunk and he was hurt in a drunken brawl, or maybe he was in some kind of fight, or maybe he tried to be forward with someone else’s wife, and he ended up being crippled.  We don’t know, but we know it’s a deliverance from sin, as well.

Sabbath is going to teach us about rest.  That’s the idea of the Sabbath.  John in the introduction lesson, if you recall, we called attention to all of the miracles are signs, not just the seven mentioned here, but all miracles are sign miracles.  In Mark 2:16&17, he calls Himself “a physician”, “Those who are sick need a physician.  I came to call sinners.”  He’s a doctor of sinners.  All the miracles He did are picturing spiritual reality.  In other words, when He cleansed the leper, He didn’t heal the leper, He cleansed the leper, because He cleanses sin.  It’s just a picture of sin.  In chapter 9, the man born blind, the Pharisees at the end said, “We’re not blind, too.”  Spiritual blindness is pictured by physical blindness, and all the miracles it’s the same, whether it’s the fever, or the curing of the deaf, or curing the lame, or those who are demon possessed, or raising the dead, or calming the storm, every miracle was a parable, and every parable told a principle.  He wants to heal the blind, so that we who are spiritually blind can see.  He wants to heal the deaf, so that we can have an ear to hear.  He wants to heal the lame, so we can learn how to walk before God and before men. He wants to cleanse the leper, because He wants us to be clean from sin.  It’s all spiritual; it’s pictured by that. 

That’s one of the problems some have when they say, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.  He healed the blind then, and He can heal the blind now.  He raised them up then, and He healed the sick, and He can do it now.”  Yes, He can, and He does, and we have witnessed that even in our family recently.  He does; He heals the sick.  But He didn’t come into your heart to reproduce the picture; He came into your heart to reproduce the reality.  He still heals the blind through you, those who are spiritually blind.  He still heals the deaf through you; He allows you to have the fragrance of Christ, so they can hear from the Lord Himself, and so on.

Someone can ask, “If this guy pictures salvation, then where is an evidence of faith?  I thought we’re saved by faith.”  Let me suggest two possibilities in this story where he exercised faith.  The first is in verse 6, “When Jesus saw him lying there, they knew that he had already been there a long time, and He said to him, ‘Do you wish to get well?’”  You might say that sounds like a silly question, if somebody is there for thirty-eight years, of course he’s going to say, “Yes, I want to get well.”  But if you bring in the idea of sin, and that he’s there because of the consequences of sin, then the answer might be different.  I think what God is illustrating here when He says, “Do you want to be well, do you want to be forgiven, do you want to be delivered from the consequences of sin?” I think it’s faith, because if you’re not willing to be saved, you’re not going to ever get saved.  You’ve got to have the will.  I think this is the first evidence of his faith.  I think when Jesus asked him, I think it penetrated into his heart, and he said, “Yes,yeah; I’m all done.  I don’t want to die a drunkard or I don’t want to die a drug addict; I want deliverance.”  I think that was the idea.

The second evidence that I see is in verse 8, “Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.’”  Remember who he was, and what he had; he’s crippled and had been crippled for thirty-eight years, and now Jesus said, “Get up and pick up your bed.”  That took faith, I think.  He had to trust the power of the Lord to do that; that was not nature.  There’s no way he could do that.  Imagine the atrophy that was in that guy, laying there for thirty-eight years?  Great day, I’ll sit in a chair for half an hour, and then I try to get up.  I call it “Jenga”.  It feels like my back is like that; I’ve got to get everything aligned up, so I can take the next step.  Anyway, for him to be able to stand up, bend over, pick up his bed and walk away, I think that illustrates that he’s trusting the mighty power of God.  I think we’ve mentioned it before, but every command in the whole Bible that He ever gave you or me is impossible; there is not a possibility to obey anything.  We can’t give thanks in everything, we can’t love our wives as Christ loved the church, we can’t rejoice evermore, we can’t count it joy when we’re in diverse temptations, we can’t be perfect as He’s perfect, and we need to trust God every moment of the Christian life.  Every moment of the Christian life requires a miracle; that’s what the Christian life is; it’s a miracle every step.  As soon as we try it on our own, we fall, and we have to come back again, and we have to learn it over and over again.

I told you there were three pictures; the place was a picture of superstition, this man and his condition was a picture of salvation from sin, and now this day, the Sabbath Day, becomes a picture.  Verse 9, “Immediately, the man became well and picked up his pallet and began to walk.  Now, it was the Sabbath on that day.”  We sort of read this la, la, la, but the Sabbath Day was a big deal for the Jews, and we can’t just sort of read this…  The Sabbath Day is as old as man.  Man is only one day old when God instituted the Sabbath.  God created man on the sixth day and then He rested and He instituted the Sabbath.  They celebrated the Sabbath one day every week, and then every Sabbath month, every seventh month they took a week and celebrated the Sabbath, every day of the week.  And then every seventh year, they had a Sabbatical year, and they took the whole year off.  On Jubilee they did two Sabbath years in a row.  When they were forty years in the wilderness, remember that the manna was every day except He did a miracle every Sabbath and preserved that manna.  To violate the Sabbath in the Jewish mind, you can check with Sebastian, he knows all about this, this was a capital offense.  Listen to Exodus 31:14, “Therefore, you are to observe the Sabbath.  It’s holy to you.  Every one who profanes it shall surely be put to death.  Every one who does work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.  Six days work may be done, but on the seventh day, there’s a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord.  Whoever does any work on the Sabbath Day shall surely be put to death.”

In our culture, we don’t think that way, but that was a big deal to the Jewish mind.  Why did they go into Babylonian captivity for seventy years?  Listen to 2 Chronicles 36:21, “Those who had escaped from the sword, he carried away to Babylonian.  They were servants to him and to his sons, until the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed it’s Sabbaths.  All the days of its desolation it kept Sabbath until seventy years were complete.”  For four hundred and ninety years they neglected to obey God and keep a Sabbatical year, and God said, “That’s seventy years, and My land needs a Sabbath.  You’re going into bondage, into captivity for seventy years until My land gets to rest.”  It’s all about the Sabbath, and that’s why I say that I want to enter into this, because this is a marvelous miracle, “Take up your bed and walk on the Sabbath Day.”  This is a big deal.

The Jews, we call the first five books the Pentateuch, but the Jews called it the Torah. They had a couple, but I’ll just mention one.  They had a commentary on the Torah called the Mishna, and the Mishna was not only a commentary on the Torah, but it included also a lot of oral traditions and their written traditions.  In the Mishna there is a section just on the Sabbath.  On the Sabbath, they had thirty-nine prohibitions, things you can not do on the Sabbath Day.  Some of them, from our point of view, seemed a little silly.  They had rules about sowing and plowing and reaping and threshing and winnowing.  They regulated the kitchen and regulated the bedroom and regulated clothing and social things, and how far you could walk on the Sabbath. 

According to the Mishna, on the Sabbath Day, if you tried to tie a knot on your shoe, if you couldn’t untie it with one hand, you sinned.  That was work, and you could die for that.  If you dared to spit on the Sabbath, that was a work.  The Mishna said that was working and you couldn’t spit on the Sabbath.  They had sandals, and if you would walk and your toe made a furrow, you were plowing, and that was against the Jewish law according to the Mishnah.  When the disciples walked with Jesus on the Sabbath in the grain field and they plucked the grain and then they rubbed it in their hands and then they ate it.  The Jews came along and said, “You have no right to that.  When you plucked that grain, you were reaping.  When you put that in your hand like that, that’s threshing.  And this is early morning, and you can’t eat before the morning sacrifice; there’s a fast, and you violated the Sabbath Day.  This was a big deal.  Lillian would have a hard time on the Sabbath if she was Jewish back then, because you couldn’t swat a fly on the Sabbath.  She belongs to the swat team; she’s the leader.  She loves doing that.  If you blew out a candle, and it was to save the wick or save the oil, you violated the law.  But the Mishnah said that if there was somebody sick and he needed to go to sleep, you could blow out the candle so that he could get his rest.  All of these laws and all of this accretion of all of their religious scruples were put into that.

The fact is that they didn’t understand the Sabbath.  I think the clearest verse on, “What is the Sabbath?”, actually two verses, is Isaiah 58:13&14, “If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord and honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own way of seeking your own pleasure, and speaking your own word, then you take delight in the Lord.”  What’s the Sabbath?  It’s the exchanged life; it’s ceasing from you and delighting in him.  That’s the meaning of the Sabbath, and that verse spells it right out.  They didn’t understand what the Sabbath was.  Jesus said in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; it was designed to be a day of joy, a day of liberty, a day of freedom, a day of rest, the fragrance of Christ to God.  This is the Christian life; it’s not hard, it’s wonderful, but to them it became a great burden, a day of rules and regulations, “Am I messing up?  Am I going to get in trouble?”  They had no idea the Sabbath was a day of delight. 

Keep that in mind now; that’s just a little background.  We’re in John 5 because their reaction to the healing of this man on the Sabbath Day drove them snaky, “You can’t do that!”  This man was thirty-eight years, and Jesus said, “Pick up your pallet and walk.”  If he’s thirty-eight years in this problem, I don’t mean to try to be sarcastic, but couldn’t Jesus heal him on Monday?  He’s been this way for thirty-eight years.  Couldn’t He have done it on Wednesday, or Friday?  Why did He wait for the Sabbath Day?  He could have done it on any day, and it seems like He did it deliberately on the Sabbath Day.  I know the heart of Christ; it wasn’t like in your face; I don’t think He was doing that, and I don’t think He would say, “I’ll show you how stupid you guys are.”  I don’t think He was doing that. 

According to the record, Matthew, Mark Luke and John, He did seven Sabbath Day miracles, and in any one of them He could have done it on any day, but He deliberately did it on the Sabbath Day.  He cast out a demon on the Sabbath Day, He healed a fever on the Sabbath Day, He healed a withered hand on the Sabbath Day, He straightened up a woman who was humped over for eighteen years on the Sabbath Day, and there was a guy whose organs were shutting down (that’s what dropsy is), He healed dropsy on the Sabbath Day, and this crippled man on the Sabbath Day, the man born blind on the Sabbath Day.  He did it on purpose; He wasn’t trying to…  I’ll tell you what He was trying to do.  He was trying to rescue the Sabbath Day; He was trying to bring it back to what it was intended to mean.  He was bringing it back to original intention, and why God instituted it in the first place.  These religious people knew nothing about that.

When He worked for six days and created the universe, and then He rested, the idea is, the Bible said, “He made day one and it was good… He created and it was good, and it was good, and it was good, and then He comes to man and it’s very good.  He was satisfied; that was rest, “I’m done, satisfied with the finished work of creation.”  What does it mean for the Christian to rest?  It means that we’re satisfied with the finished work of redemption.  That’s all it is; it’s just being satisfied and being an aroma of Christ to God, and living unto Him.  The Sabbath was delighting in the Lord, and it’s not me; it’s Him.  He gave us one day a week so we could see objectively if our hearts are really on the Lord.  It’s a beautiful thing.  John 5:16, “For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath, He answered them, ‘My Father is working, and I Myself am working.’”  They had the idea that after the six days of creation, He rested, that He was not working, and Jesus was saying, “Don’t you get it?  I created it, but now I’ve got to hold it together; I’ve got to sustain it, and I’ve got to keep it going.”  Imagine if every Sabbath He just said, “Alright, I’m now longer going to keep the universe…”  It would fly into pieces.  Colossians 1:17, “He’s before all things; in Him all things hold together.”  They were complaining that Jesus used power to raise the man so that he could walk.  That was the same power that was enabling them to walk.  He said, “You’re not supposed to work.  If I didn’t work, you’d collapse right on the spot.”  They were experiencing exactly the power that He gave to that man.  In Him we live and move and have our being; He’s always working. 

In John 5:17, He answered, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” They took offense at that in two ways.  #1 He violated the Sabbath by doing work, and then He made Himself equal with God.  This is chapter 5.  It’s not just a little story of a crippled man at Bethesda.  Jesus signed His death warrant that day.  Those were the charges that put Him on the cross, “He made Himself equal with God; He’s against Moses; He violated the Sabbath.”  We just say, “This is the miracle, and here is the reaction.”  It was bigger than that; Jesus signed His death warrant, and from that day on they began to go after Him and find some way that they could kill Him.

I told you that Jesus did seven miracles.  I’ll never forget Ricky Baker, oh, what a blessing he was!  I was sharing one time about the Sabbath Day miracles that healed a demon, and that’s to show the real Sabbath.  He didn’t heal a demon; He cast a demon out of a man.  And then He healed a fever, and a withered hand, and a humped over woman, and I went all through that, and Ricky Baker came to me and he said, “You did those one at a time; he had a fever, and he was demon possessed, and he was crippled.  That’s me, all of them; they’re all me.”  And he tried to make me picture one person with all of that problem; he’s blind, he’s deaf, he’s got dropsy, he’s withered, he’s demon possessed.  When Christ saved you, that’s who you were.  When He saved me that’s exactly who I was.  We were all of those, and many others. 

But the Pharisees missed that, and the priests missed that, and the Sadducees missed that, and the scribes missed that, and the Herodians missed that, and the Essenes missed that; they didn’t get it, that a rest is always available at all times and all places for every Christian.  So now God gives a picture of that rest, and let’s look at it.  Verse 8, “Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.’”  I think this is one of my favorite verses in John.  In our last lesson I dropped the suggestion that that man was delivered from and he was delivered unto.  What was he delivered from?  He was delivered from lying in a helpless condition at some superstitious place hoping some day to be delivered.  He’s going to walk away from that now, and he doesn’t ever have to go back.  He was delivered from that.  But what was he delivered unto?  The answer is the real Sabbath rest; he was delivered and now what once carried him, what once held him, he is now free to lift that up and to walk in Sabbath rest.  So, he was delivered from the vanity of this world, delivered unto a real, a Christian Sabbath rest.  The hopelessness, the vanity, the many years of waiting for something to work, and maybe some day something will happen, to now, in the face of everything, just to get up and live in Sabbath rest. 

When you live in Sabbath rest, you’re going to live in the opposition, and you’re going to be rejected.  Right after his healing, John 5:10, “The Jews were saying to the man who was cured, ‘It’s a Sabbath, and it’s not permissible for you to carry your pallet.’”  They go after you.  But as soon as you identify, “It’s not me; it’s Jesus,” look at verse 15, “The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who made him well.  For that reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath Day.”  You don’t have to look too far, brothers and sisters in Christ, to see that this world does not like Christians, and they do not like Jesus.  Especially in the political arena, everything is against the Lord, and against His people, and so on.  I’m not going to go into all of that, but when you allow Christ to meet with you, you are delivered from and you are delivered unto, and you have the privilege to get beat up, you have the privilege to carry your pallet on the Sabbath Day.  Nobody understands the Sabbath Day, and we’re going to walk smack dab into the cross current of religion.  It’s not going to work, because there has to be opposition, but that’s why we need a miracle.

I want to take you to Hebrews 13:13, “Let us, therefore, go unto Him outside the camp.”  It’s unto Him, so I’m enjoying the Lord, and I’m a fragrance of Christ to God, and I’m delighting in the Lord, and I’m enjoying Sabbath rest, and I am satisfied with His finished work, unto Him outside the camp.  There is going to be an aroma, and some are going to reject you.  You say, “What camp am I going to be outside of?”  You are going to be outside the ecclesiastical camp; the church is going to go against you.  You are going to be outside the social camp; you are going to lose a few friends.  You are going to be outside the educational camp because the education they give is all woke; you aren’t going to want that.  You’re going to be outside the vocational camp; you aren’t even going to be able to get a job in many places, and in most places.  You’re going to be outside the domestic camp.  You’re family is going to come against you, the ones you love the most.  You’re certainly going to be outside the political camp.  You’re going to be outside every camp, but notice what it said, “Come, therefore, to Him outside the camp,” and it doesn’t matter, because now I’m a fragrance of Christ to God.  I’m not trying to minister, but I am ministering if I’m this way.  That’ll happen.  There will be some men that say, “Yes,” and some men will say, “No,” but the simplicity of the Christian life is just living unto the Lord, having the favor of the Lord.  Sometimes people will cheer and you’ll be a blessing, and sometimes you’re going to hate you.

I’m going to develop that a little more because in this chapter Jesus presents Himself, in fact I think John 5 has more revelations of Christ than any other single chapter in the gospel of John.  We’ll do that next time, but let me close by Jesus’ response to this opposition.  The Jews came against, “You can’t be doing this.”  So, Jesus says, “You want a testimony?  Alright.”  And so He quotes their hero; the Jews’ hero was Moses.  Deuteronomy 19:15, “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed.  On the evidence of two or three witnesses, a matter will be confirmed.”  So, He goes to Jews and He says, “You want witnesses?  I say I’m not doing wrong, but you need witnesses.  So, according to Moses you need two or three witnesses.  Alright, I’ll give you four witnesses.”  That’s what Jesus said.  And He rules Himself out.  John 5:31, “If I alone testify about myself, my testimony is not true.”  He’s not saying that it’s false; He’s saying that you are not under obligation to believe it, because you need two or three witnesses.  Alright, let me give you one.  My first witness, I call to the stand John the Baptist, John 5:32, “There is another who testifies of Me.  I know the testimony he gives about Me is true.  You sent to John, and he has testified to the truth.”  Verse 35, “He was a lamp that was burning and shining, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.”  That’s the first witness, “You heard John, and he testified of Me, and at first you believed him.”

“My second witness, my miracles.  John 5:36, “The testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do testify about Me that the Father has sent Me.”  Even Nicodemus said, “No one could do these works, except God be with him.”  “Alright, you want another witness?  I’ll give it to you—all the scriptures, verse 39, “You search the scriptures because you think in them you have eternal life.  It’s these that testify about Me.  You are unwilling to come to Me that you might have life.”  “That should be enough; you’ve got John the Baptist, you’ve got all My miracles, you’ve got the whole Bible, you’ve got the scriptures; that’s testimony.  Do you want one more?  Alright, I’ll give you one more.  I call to the stand Moses.”  John 5:45, “Do not think I will accuse you before the Father.  The One who accuses you is Moses, in whom you’ve set your hope.  If you believe Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me, but if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe in My work?”  Moses was their hero and He said, “If you believe Moses, you would come to Me.  He wrote about Me.  Is that enough testimony? You’ve got John the Baptist, you’ve got all the miracles that I did, you’ve got the whole word of God, and we’ve got your hero, Moses.  I’m true and you don’t get it.”

Just so we close on a Christ-centered note, I want to get back to just one more verse.  To summarize the main points I was trying to underscore, number one, real ministry, real Christian life is living the fragrance of Christ, “This is My beloved Son.”  The only things that pleases God is Jesus.  “This is my beloved Son,” and if we just live constantly that way, then we’ll have a testimony.  That’s the first thing.  The second thing I wanted to call attention to is that Sabbath rest is being delivered forever from the vanity of this world, being delivered unto a real rest in the Lord.  We don’t have to worry about results.

We all have loved ones, and we all have husbands and wives or family members, children, friends, co-workers, people that we’re concerned about, and we’d love for them to come to know Jesus.  How do we do that?  I tell you how not to do it.  Don’t nag, don’t pressure, don’t try to convince them.   In my early Christian life, “Jesus loves you,” squeezing their necks.  We can’t do it that way.  Listen, please, to Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He’ll give you the desires of your heart.”  You might say, “My desire is that my husband come to Christ.”  The best thing you could do for your husband is to delight yourself in the Lord.  “I really want my child to turn around and come back to Christ.”  The best thing you could do for that kid is to delight yourself in the Lord.  It’s the best thing you could ever do for your neighbor, That’s missions.  If you delight yourself in the Lord, if you lift up the fragrance of Christ to Him, some will say yes and some will say no, but the simplicity of your life, is that you’ve been delivered from the pool of Bethesda and you have your bed under your arm and you’re walking into the glorious day of Sabbath rest.  Let’s pray.

Father, thank You for Your word, not what we think it means but all You’ve inspired it to mean.  Once again, we ask You to work that in our hearts.   Thank You for this tremendous chapter and this story of this miracle that You did.  Teach us what it means to pick up our bed and walk.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.