Thought I’d share some thoughts from my quiet time the other day:
Too often for me, I hear people talking about Jesus as a rebel. A passage like the healing at the pool in John 5 can help fuel this fire. After being crippled for 38 years, a man is healed by Jesus: “GET UP! PICK UP YOU MAT AND WALK.” This all happened on the Sabbath. The religious leaders confront the man for carrying his mat—for doing work on the day of rest. The man had been resting for 38 years, but they believed he ought to wait one more day to carry his mat.
THAT REBEL! Jesus didn’t care about their petty human traditions! Go JESUS! Break up the establishment. Stir it up! Call them names! You’ve got them really mad now, for they are plotting against you!
Sometimes we identify with Jesus as the rebel. We think about all the troubles we’re facing, and take comfort in the thought, “Well, I’m a rebel like Jesus….”
I’m not really ignited by this passage. My response is a little more sober and slow. For when Jesus ran into the man a little bit later he says, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
I don’t see Jesus as a rebel. Radical? Definitely. Turn every important idea and assumption upside down? Of course. Jesus came to put down the rebellion. I don’t know what the right political/governmental word for “rebel against the rebellion” is, but Jesus was against rebellion. He came to put down our rebellion against God.
The weight of these 14 words presses on my heart. It fills it with hope, but also convicts. Jesus helps, he heals. He also wants us to stop sinning. Our sin also has consequences, and those consequences may be worse than being an invalid 38 years. I’m not saying every bad thing that happens to us is a result of our sin, that’s not what Jesus taught. But it is possible that our sins may result in “something worse” than what we’ve been healed from.
Why did Jesus tell the man to carry his mat? Jesus could have came another day, or told him to leave his mat alone… but Jesus wanted the man to be noticed, so that he could share his story. He wanted the man to talk about what Jesus did for him so that others might come and find God.
If we need to rebel, let’s rebel against our sin nature, and tell the world how Jesus made it possible for us to live in freedom.