Follow Jesus or Follow Rules? (John 5:18)


The Pharisees were obsessed with following rules. Jesus talks about them placing burdens on men’s backs. Many of the rules were not even in the Bible but were made up rules. Jesus came to set people free. When Jesus saw a crippled man unable to help himself Jesus healed him. Rather than marvelling at Jesus authority and power the Pharisees were upset because he told the man to carry his mat on the Sabbath. The Pharisees could not see that anyone who had authority to heal someone crippled for life would also have authority to permit someone to carry a mat. Jesus had to explain to them where his authority came from.

The Jews were so upset by what Jesus said that they wanted to kill him. What upset them so much was Jesus’ claim to be God. Claiming to be God was offensive to their religious principles but also it offended them because if it was true then they needed to listen to him and not to what they were used to. Jesus’ miracles were proof that He was God but the Jews chose to ignore these rather than face the implications.

These days we are not in a position to stone Jesus but the world and even Christians try to silence Jesus when he speaks. For most people in our country, Jesus is in their opinion an irrelevance and might as well have stayed in the grave. Scientists and intellectuals pour scorn on the idea of miracles because they do not fit their world view and if they were true then they would have to accept that Jesus had authority, and that would mean they had to listen to Him.

Do we also though sometimes bury Jesus? Is it easier sometimes just to be like the Jews and stick to a set of rules, routines and set behaviours rather than try and live day to day in a walk with Jesus where we have no control? We read our Bibles for a few minutes a day, maybe offer up a couple of quick prayers for things that are on our minds and then get on with living our lives the way we want except for giving up a couple of precious hours on a Sunday when we feel good because we have got up early and arrived (almost) on time. We think we know the kind of people God wants us to be (who we are at the moment, but just a little bit better so we always have to try a bit harder but not actually change much) and we feel that God couldn’t really be interested in people who are too different from us. How would it be if instead of just reading God’s word we meditated on it and asked the Holy Spirit to interpret it to us for today and then everyday did what it said? Or what if we spent more time listening to God than talking at Him? Or what if we were so secure in who we are in God that we knew that we could do anything He told us, and however badly we failed or however unpopular it made us, nothing would change how loved we were?