John 5:1-18 The man went away and told the Jews it was Jesus who made him well.
To a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years he said “stand up, take your mat, and walk.” What was the crowd’s reaction – the man was not supposed to be carrying a mat on the Sabbath. When they heard Jesus had performed the miracle – they persecuted him for breaking the Sabbath. Many read this passage especially the part where Jesus says, “My father is still working, and I also am working,” and use it to ignore the commandment to remember the Sabbath and to keep it holy. I think there is another way to look at this story.
Another way to look at John 5 is to consider it is a story about healing. When we are admonished to remember the Sabbath, we are reminded to set aside at least one day in the week to engage in spiritual healing. Isn’t that what we are doing when we attend church or Sunday school class. I am a huge advocate of believing we heal by resting whether it be by enjoying a choral evensong, a quiet morning with a fire and the NY Times, and yes even a gathering of friends to watch a football game as well as attend church. Each of us heals spiritually differently, just as we work differently. Even hard physical work such as a long morning’s run, mowing the lawn, or chopping firewood can, if we bring the right attitude to our work, be as spiritually healing as a rousing sermon accompanied by a gospel choir.
What’s important is we experience the healing presence of God at least once a week. And what about those NFL players, or preachers, or store clerks who have to work on the Sabbath. What did Jesus say, “I…am working.” Yes, they can say I am working by healing others, and allowing others to heal.