Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.
Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
The context of the Jews' criticism of the man who has been healed blows me away! The man has been sick for 38 years! 38 years! Where were these Jews when this man struggled? Where were they when he cried? Who among them lifted one finger to help him in his suffering? Such is the demeanor and attitude of many religious people when something great happens to a person who has suffered so long. How is it possible for folks who purport to follow God to act in such an awful way? How could they treat him so badly?
In like manner these folks persecuted Jesus because he broke their rules by helping and healing hurting people. These religious folks felt totally justified in their criticism because their theology supported such actions. They preferred to cling to a caustic doctrine rather than encouraging people who were involved in God's work. And that is the question that must be asked of all religion - does it help or hinder the work of God on planet earth? Jesus speaks directly to this question and proclaims that God is working - and so should we be.
Help me Lord to not hide behind my doctrine when I see hurting people.