When word got out that Jesus was the one who had the nerve to heal the lame man on the Sabbath, the Jews were not happy. The Pharisees had turned the Sabbath into a day when you should not lift a finger, even to do good. So instead of rejoicing in the miraculous healing of the lame man, they persecuted Jesus for breaking the law. But it was not God’s law that Jesus had broken. It was their law. God never intended for good works to cease on the Sabbath. God does not take a day off from intervening in the lives of the people that need Him, and neither would Jesus.
“This is the sabbath! It’s illegal for you to pick up your mat.” – John 5:10 CSB
“My Father is always working, and so am I.” – John 5:17 NLT
The Jews were plenty angry with Jesus at this point, but then He had the nerve to refer to God as His Father. They knew that by calling God His Father, Jesus was making Himself equal to God! They may have been comfortable with Jesus being a great moral teacher or even a prophet, but claiming to be the Son of God made Him either a lunatic or a liar. They could not bring themselves to consider the fact that He was exactly who He claimed to be; the Son of God!
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” – C.S. Lewis
As the Jews were still reeling from His claims to be the Son of God, Jesus goes on to explain what His relationship with His Father looks like. He said that His Father shows Him everything and that He does what He sees His Father doing. He told them that they will be shown even greater things that would amaze them. Then He proclaimed that just as His Father can give life, so can He; to whomever He wants to. Jesus told them that His Father has given all judgment to Him and that just as the Father is honored, so will He be.
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” – John 5:24 NLT
“…and My judgment is just (fair, righteous, unbiased) because I do not seek My own will, but only the will of Him who sent Me.” – John 5:30 AMP
All of this was more than the Jews could handle. Here was this man from Galilee claiming to be God’s Son on God’s mission. They had heard John the Baptist preach about the One who was coming and they had eagerly received the testimony about the Messiah. But they were not ready to receive the Messiah, Himself.
For generations, the prophets had testified about the Savior. But instead of seeing the Savior in the Scriptures, the Pharisees had made the Scriptures themselves the way to eternal life. When they finally stood face to face with the One who could actually give them eternal life, they were not willing to come to Him.
“You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. But you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.” – John 5:39-40 CSB
Now Jesus was saying to them, “Don’t you get it?! You claim to believe what you’ve read in the Scriptures, but now the Word stands before you and you don’t like what you see. You are more comfortable in the religion you have created than you are in having a relationship with the One who created you.”
We must be careful not to become like the Pharisees. We cannot allow our religion to be more important than our relationship with Jesus! Jesus did not come just to change the way we live, He came to change our entire life! When you surrender your life to Jesus, you immediately move from death to life. This world with all of its struggles becomes a tiny dot on the canvas of your eternity. When you become a Christian, what God has in store for you is beyond what you could ever ask or even imagine. In Christ, the best is yet to come.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT