Diplomacy

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”

So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”

For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. (John 5:8-23)

A diplomat is described as someone who can tell you to go to Hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip. Jesus was no diplomat. When the crowd got angry with him, he just poured more gasoline on the fire. Jesus justified his service for humanity on the Sabbath by pointing out that his Father didn’t take the day off. The already angry crowd grew angrier still. Not only was Jesus a Sabbath-breaker, now he was blaspheming.

How so? By calling God his Father, they understood that Jesus had claimed to be God. Why? Because the son of a man is, like his father, a man. But since there is but one God, God’s Son must simply be God.

The crowd did not like that at all, but Jesus didn’t back down. He hammered the point home. His critics were right: he was claiming equality with God. Everything Jesus knew, everything he did, he’d gotten from his Father. He also told them that if they didn’t accept him as God then they were the ones guilty of the blasphemy.

Jesus was not concerned with making himself likable. He was only concerned with making sure people understood what he meant, even if they didn’t like it. It’s not always possible, or even a good idea, to calm your critics.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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