"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."

Jesus said to him, "Arise, take up your pallet, and walk."

And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and began to walk.

Now it was the Sabbath on that day."      John 5:7-9

It amazes me how Jesus kept intentionally breaking the Sabbath. He could have healed this man on another day, yet He chose to do it on the Sabbath. Over and over again He did things on the Sabbath which he knew were against the Law of Moses. Obviously, He was taking dead aim at something within the Jewish religious system. But I believe it goes beyond that. He was (and is) taking aim at something within all of us. There is something within you and I that needs to be broken, something that we hold dear. Something that we hold onto from the past that is very "sacred" to us.

Comfortable in Our Sabbaths

This man, who was waiting at the pool, had been there everyday for thirty-eight years! Can you imagine? Thirty-eight years! He had been held in religious bondage for all that time. He was waiting for someone to help him go down into the water.

In religion, you don't ever really receive any help. It's every man for himself. It is void of grace and compassion. Everyone is too busy working really hard to measure up and be good little Christians. No one has time for you because they are working so hard at pleasing God. They have never seen that only One can please God, and He lives within your spirit.

We see two dynamics going on in this story. One is the religious individual represented by the sick man by the pool. The other is the religious organization represented by the Pharisees who were offended by Jesus healing this man. The individual was healed, the organization was not. This shows us that individual believers can be set free from the religious system, but the system itself will never be "healed." I have known some brothers and sisters who remain within the religious system for the express purpose of trying to change it. It never happens. God may be calling you out of the religious institution, but He has not called you to try to change it.

Past Glories

Both the man who was healed and the Pharisees had made the mistake of holding onto past glories. What I mean by this is that they were holding onto things that God had done in the past. The man by the pool had held onto the fact that, in the past, someone had been healed by going down into that pool. Or perhaps, that was just a rumor that was spread around, who knows? At any rate, the man (and many others) had a religious and even superstitious idea about God and the way He heals.

This is the way that his concept went. If I can just get to a certain place and do a certain thing, then God will heal me. Certain conditions must be met before I can be touched by the Lord. I must meet those conditions in order for Him to be satisfied and as a result heal me.

Does this sound familiar? It should. It's the way that most of us think! If we can only meet the conditions that we think God has set forth, then He will finally move in our lives. Yet, we have a God who moves in freedom and grace. He is not bound by our finite, religious, confining concepts of Him and the way He works. Praise the Lord! He is much bigger than that!

Jesus walked up to this man and just asked him if he wanted to be well. The man responded to Jesus by explaining to Him that he had no one to help him into the water. The Lord totally ignored this man's religious nonsense. He told him to get up and walk! The Lord healed him because He wanted to. The Lord healed him because He loved him. There were no conditions or requirements.

Sabbath Breaking

The Lord healed him for one other reason; to break the Sabbath! This was to show this man, the Pharisees, and everyone else that Someone greater than the Sabbath was among them. They were still holding onto a tradition, a law, a regulation, a condition to please God. But Someone was in their midst who was much greater than the law. In fact, all of the law, traditions, etc. were pictures of Him. They all pointed to Him, the reality and fulfillment of it all!

Many times we hold onto things that have come into our lives in the past and make them a "Sabbath." Many times those events were things that God did. We hang on to them and try to live in them today. We make them our "Sabbaths." But I tell you, brothers and sisters, that He will come and break those Sabbaths!

He wants you and I to live in the freshness of who He is today, right now. He is the great "I AM." Our God will not allow us to live with Him in past glories. He wants to fellowship with you and I right here and right now.

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