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Re-Creation and God's Sabbathing Work
by Dan Kidd
Today we meet Jesus in our second passage from John 5. Having just healed a man who had been suffering in sickness for thirty-eight years, Jesus has raised the hackles of the Jewish leaders. These leaders began harassing Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, to which Jesus responds something audacious, "My Father is always working, and so am I." We're told here that this caused these leaders to want to kill him even more than they had already wanted to kill him. It's worth noting here that Jesus has done something rather audacious--Jesus has identified himself as the Son, and "equal with God," being that he was, in fact, God. I wonder if you could smell the blood boiling under their skin? And it seems these leaders' internal rage didn't go unnoticed by Jesus, because he then began to explain himself.
To be fair, these Jewish leaders had something of a legitimate accusation. They knew the penalty for Sabbath-breaking was death, because Sabbath-keeping is essential in our Creator's design. Without rhythms of rest, play, worship, merriment, or recreation (re-creation) life is lifeless. It's holy work for our spiritual leaders to insist that we sabbath, because it's harmful for ourselves and our neighbors when we don't.
But what these leaders failed or refused to consider in their formulaic rule-keeping was the very purpose of Sabbath: restoration; re-creation. Jesus encountered a man on the Sabbath who needed to be restored, healed, brought back to himself, and, as naturally as he breathed, Jesus joined the Father in the restorative work the Father always does in our sabbathing. Who would expect God the Son to do anything else but the things God does?
Jesus' work was the Father's work and the Father's work was Jesus' work.
And it was here that Jesus decided to be crystal and audaciously clear about his identity and his purposes. Hearing Jesus and devoting oneself to him would mean resurrection and endless, abundant life. The alternative would be condemnation. Jesus, the Son, at the pleasure of the Father, judges justly. This healing, liberating, rescuing work Jesus was doing for the likes of this man he would do, entirely and eternally, for the whole world. Everything will be set back to right.
What incredible news! The tastes of the Kingdom we get as often as we are healed, restored, re-created, brought into peace, will one day be the full banquet. As incredible as these life-changing miracles are, we look ahead to even greater works than these.
Breath Prayer – Take 2-3 minutes today to pray a simple breath prayer. Get somewhere quiet and relaxing. Breathe in deeply, and then breathe out fully. As you breathe in, ask God to fill you with His presence, grace, love, peace, or healing. Consider inviting the Holy Spirit to revitalize, heal, or re-create you. As you breathe out, offer to God the things you need Him to take from you – sin, doubt, shame, anxiety, fear, etc. Pray this way for just a few minutes, trusting God to work, and then begin reading today’s Scripture.