I love today’s Gospel message, not only does it give us a look into the identity of who Jesus is, it gives us a glimpse into the Israelite culture in the first century. A lot of things Jesus did may seem quite normal or “unprovoking” to us yet the pharisees and the priest want him dead and gone. This leaves us sitting here scratching our heads.
It is customary in Israel to not answer any question straightly with a yes or a no. Often a question was answered with a question or sometimes with a drawn out explanation. The man at the pool side didn’t just answer the question, he said “Sir, I have no one to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up…” (John 6:7) This man confirmed he wanted to be healed but didn’t just say yes.
So when Jesus is being persecuted by the Jews for instructing a man to work on the sabbath, Jesus answers them “My Father is still working, and I also am working.” (John 5:17)
Jesus confirms his authority over the sabbath law, something only God himself could do but Jesus does it without saying that he is God. By simply making the claim that “My Father” is working, Jesus confirms his identity to the Father and likewise his divinity.
Jesus took quite the risk breaking Jewish laws in front of the highest ranking Jewish officials in the land. Jesus knew he wasn’t alone, that the Father was going to protect him because Jesus is His son. Jesus tells us that we are all children of God, so this same love and protection is for us too.
The root of this story I believe is that Jesus prioritized the well being of a fellow man over the concern for what others will think. We are sometimes scrutinized for our decisions but sometimes we also don’t do something for fear of scrutiny.
Take courage in caring for your neighbor, because when you show love to your neighbor, you show love for God.