Monday: Do you want to be healed?
Read John 5:1-17, Deuteronomy 2, 2 Kings 5:1-14
There is still so much going on just beneath the surface in John. (Pool pun intended!) The Bethesda pool has 5 colonnades (this has been found to be true by archaeologists and is attested to in the Dead Sea Scrolls). The man is an invalid for 38 years. There’s symbolic connection here to the 5 books of Moses and 38 years of desert wandering (Deuteronomy 2:14) that were unable to bring permanent healing to God’s people. The pool is an ineffective healer, despite its reputation. Only Jesus can actually heal. This man’s attitude is also an indictment that resembles Israel. He’s not eager to be healed and even after he finds out that Jesus healed him, he rats Jesus out to the Jews.
Do you need healing? Physical, emotional, spiritual, relational? How much do you really desire healing or are you deep down content with things they way they are? Jesus is the ultimate healer – let’s go to him!
Tuesday: He was doing these things on the Sabbath
Read John 5:15-18, Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:8-11, Numbers 15:32-36
Why was the Sabbath such a big deal? Jesus’ decision to heal on the Sabbath is a deliberate claim of divinity. Only God himself has the authority to work on the Sabbath.
Sabbath means “rest” or more accurately, “cease!” A correct interpretation of Sabbath was debated from the day Moses gave the law to the time of Jesus and beyond. As Christians, we have the tendency to dismiss the Sabbath because of passages like this where Jesus demonstrates that he is Lord of the Sabbath. While it’s true that 7th day rest is no longer a law for Christ followers (Colossians 2:16), it would be unwise to ignore the value of Sabbath. Maybe more than ever, we need deliberate rest in our often hectic and overstimulated lives. In fact, simply resting may not be enough. We may need to ‘cease!’
What are some ways that you could creatively practice Sabbath in your life?
Wednesday: Even calling God his own Father
Read John 5:18-24, Exodus 4:22-23, Isaiah 63:16, 64:8, Jeremiah 3:19, Luke 11:1-4, 15:25-32
These scriptures clearly demonstrate that God saw himself as a father to Israel. The disconnect and shock might be coming from the strained father-son relationship between Israel and God. In Luke, Jesus instructs his disciples to call God “Father.” Part of his work was to restore the familial relationship between God and his people. The often skipped ending to Jesus’ trio of parables about lostness in Luke 15 reveals something about the older son’s relationship to his father. The prodigal son represents those that had wandered from God (Luke 15:1-2) and the older son represents Israel’s leaders who claimed to be closer to God than anyone else through their works. Interestingly, when the older son comes home and hears the celebration, he calls his servant to ask what’s going on instead of directly addressing his father. They’re not as close as they thought! His father has to come out to him and ask him to join the celebration. Jesus was doing this very thing.
How’s your relationship with the Father? Jesus has united us but at times we still may feel like the older son. We work and work for God but still feel distant. Say a prayer to your heavenly Father and ask him to restore the intimacy of your relationship.
Thursday: All who are in tombs will hear his voice
Read John 5:25-29, Genesis 1:11, 2:7, Isaiah 26:19, Daniel 12:2, John 11:43-44, Matthew 27:50-53
The rising of the dead to life was a messianic expectation that Jesus certainly delivered on. Life itself began on the third day at the sound of God’s voice. Man was formed using the breath of his nostrils. Anyone claiming to be God in the flesh would need to have the power to raise the dead. Jesus demonstrates this power when he raises Lazarus from the tomb (spoiler!) in John 11 and his death on the cross sparks a graveyard jail break in Jerusalem.
Death is an inescapable reality in our world. We face death many times over before we die ourselves. Relationships, dreams, security and many other things “die” in our lives long before our physical deaths. This is the sad part of the good news but it’s undeniable: sin causes death of all kinds. Jesus puts the good in the gospel in the most powerful way. He can raise the dead with his voice!
How can the voice of God (the scriptures, the church, the Spirit) raise up the things that may have died too soon in your life? Where do you need this ultimate power from God unleashed? Spend time praying over the dry bones in your life.
Friday: I seek not my own will
Read John 5:30, Exodus 16:8, 1 Samuel 8:7, Matthew 10:40, 21:33-39, 2 Corinthians 5:20
Jesus is claiming to be what the Hebrews would call a shaliach or agent. Like an ambassador, he represents God and has the exact same authority as God as long as he acts in accordance with God’s sovereign will. He is fully backed by the one who has sent him as an agent. An offense against the agent is the exact same as an offense against the one who sent him. The Jews would have been familiar with such a claim as Moses, Samuel and others had filled this role in the past.
Jesus’ parable of the tenants shows that God expects us to be his agents who do his will instead of seeking our own glory. Yet in our sin and desire for control, we kill the ultimate agent of God; his own son. Yet, there is good news for the redeemed. Paul calls us Christ’s ambassadors!
Whose will is dominating your life? Your will? The will of others? (People pleasing and peer pressure) Or the will of God? How can you be an agent/ambassador for God?
Saturday: If I alone bear witness
Read John 5:32-47, Hebrews 6:13-20
John uses the word witness 35 times in his writings. More than any other New Testament writer. The Greek word had two meanings. It meant testimony like in a court of law but it also came to mean one who died for their faith. In fact, the Greek word for witness is martyr. Martyrdom was a growing reality for those who pledged allegiance to Christ. In this passage, Jesus mentions 5 witnesses and claims to not bear witness alone. How true, as the early church would have already begun to experience martyrdom by the time John was written. Jesus was not martyred alone.
Hebrews 6 also follows the Jewish law of establishing two or more witnesses. And in this passage we learn that our hope, even if we were to face martyrdom, is anchored by two witnesses: an unchangeable God and unchangeable his word. As a kid you may have said, “swear to God,” to convince someone to believe you. God has literally sworn to himself that his promises will be kept.
How does the certainty of God’s word encourage you to be a witness for Him? Being a witness is never easy (ask the martyrs!) but it’s always worth it. Jesus mentions five sure witnesses in this passage in John. How can you be the sixth witness this week?