John 5:10-18: That’s gratitude for you.

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.’11 But he replied, ‘The man who made me well said to me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”12 So they asked him, ‘Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?’13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.14 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.16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defence Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’ 18 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. NIV

I still smile at the memory of some words I read in a commentary years ago: ‘The man healed by Jesus appears to have been an unpleasant character!!’ He certainly wanted to avoid any flak coming his way and was happy for them to train their sights on Jesus (10, 11 and 15). He showed them where to aim their fire (15). If he did repent of his sins, we have no clear indication of it. Yet the Lord had been so good to him.

It appears that the healed man’s illness was connected in some way to sinful behaviour (14). Sin is ultimately destructive to the human body. It is not good for your health. It is for our own good that Jesus asks us to leave our sinful burden at the foot of His cross. That’s not the main reason, of course, but it is a reason.

Religion shows its worst face where it just cares about rules and regulations and not the needs and struggles of real people. The key to understanding all this anger towards to Jesus lies in the fact that the Lord performed the miracle on the Sabbath day. It led to the man carrying his bed on the Sabbath, and these clerics interpreted that as work (9b, 10; see also 16). Even worse, Jesus said the man He healed was in fact healed by His Father  in heaven (who was also working on the Sabbath day), and so He was expressing His oneness with God (18). That’s what they took Him to mean, and they were correct to do so:  ‘It was not his own deed, but the Father’s in him and through him. If, then, they condemned it, they were in direct collision with the Infinite One from whom the Sabbath law had originally come.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.461.

This is one of the massive claims made by Jesus about His own identity. He did not think that He was just a man. How about you? What’s your view of Jesus? As C.S. Lewis argued, Jesus is who He says He is, or He is a psychiatric case (on the same level as someone saying he’s a poached egg), or He is the devil from hell. But we must not come out with any patronising nonsense about Him just being a good man. He has not left that option open to us.