Relationship or Religious Rules? John Chapter 5

Imagine that you wrote a book and went to a class being taught about it only to find out the teacher claimed the book says something you never wrote. What would you think?

Or imagine you own a company and tell an employee to do something and they tell you it is against company rules. What would you think?

John starts in chapter 1 with this about Jesus.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 

That would include what we see in Genesis 2:3:

Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

The seventh day being what is called the Sabbath. Let’s use a bit of logic here. Yes God stopped his work of creating, but he did not stop working. All of creation depends on God for being sustained. This is a point Jesus makes.

Rather rest refers to God ceasing his creation work because it was finished. It was time to enjoy his creation.

The religious leaders at the time Jesus was on earth had a long list of rules to observe the Sabbath. Break one of their rules and you were in trouble. In John chapter 5 we see the first of many conflicts between Jesus, the creator who created the Sabbath, and the religious leaders with their long list of rules, manmade rules. to observe what Jesus the creator had given ages before.

We saw last week that Jesus healed a man who was paralyzed and told him pick up your mat and walk.

The religious leaders saw the man walking and carrying the mat. They confronted him and found out Jesus told him to do so. So we read in John 5:16

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him

They were only concerned about their rules being followed and did not care at all that the man had been healed after almost 4 decades.

Jesus told them in John 5:7

In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”

The religious leaders wanted all the more to kill him. Jesus was a threat to their strangle hold of power over the people with their long list of manmade rules about how to please God.

We will examine the wonderful promises in John 5 next Tuesday, but for now ask yourself a few questions.

Do you want to follow Jesus who out of love for us let himself be crucified to be our Savior or do you want to follow a list of manmade rules?

Do you want to follow Jesus who healed people, reached out to people the religious leaders looked down on or do you want to follow a list of manmade rules?

Do you want to follow the creator who became our Savior out of love or do you want a religion?

Do you want relationship with God or religious rules?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

26 thoughts on “Relationship or Religious Rules? John Chapter 5

  1. “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”. 2 Cor. 3:6

    Everything hinges on God, not man!

    Good word, Matt. God Bless.

  2. Excellent, Matt, Thank you!
    One of the most common statements I hear when engaging folks in discussions of God is, “I’m not a religious person.” It seems the very word religion has taken on a bad connotation.
    I try to help by letting them consider a different (and far better) definition of religion found in James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (NIV)
    To me, this reveals the heart of God: to look after others while keeping an eye on ourselves.

  3. I love these questions. Very thought provoking. I think often people default to following lists of rules because it’s “easier”. It’s easy to make everything black and white because you can completely disengage your heart and just follow what you’ve always done. Almost mindlessly. You can block out the complexities of life. I’m so thankful that it’s not so simple, and that God longs for relationship above rules. The amount of effort we put into loving God and others really does show in our day to day life as we learn to abide with him.

  4. Relationship for me over rules all the time. Rules restrict the freedom we have in Christ and also it makes us not see people but a set of puzzles to put together instead of sitting down and enjoying the gifts. Hence we lose the compassion for others.
    Thanks so much for the questions and encouragement to think of what matters. God bless big bro 🙂

  5. Thanks! This reminds me of the importance of being thankful for all God has done, instead of wasting time focusing on wrong things like the religious leaders did.

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