Short Meditations in John 7: 23. Uncomfortable Logic (2)
Jn 7:23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath?
In the previous verse we said Jesus will go on to challenge their current attitude towards his healing on the Sabbath, but to start with he simply laid the foundation of logic in respect of circumcision and Sabbath use. He has pointed out that that when Sabbath keeping and need to circumcise coincide, then need to circumcise would prevail. Now it is interesting that doctors say for circumcision to be carried out most safely it should be done on the eight day – just as instructed by God. It was right or appropriate, therefore we see, for it to be carried out even if it was the Sabbath. It was only man-made rules after all that were under threat here!
So, says Jesus’ logic, if it is all right to circumcise a new baby boy on the Sabbath, how much more must it be right to be able to heal someone on the Sabbath? And if that is right, why did you all get upset with me for healing that man at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath? Was it because of the Sabbath, or was it was because it was me? (Implied).
Now the truth answer to that was that it was because it was the Sabbath, because initially, if we go back to that story, we see that the man was simply being told off for carrying his bed-roll on the Sabbath and he hadn’t actually known it was Jesus who had healed him. (see Jn 5:10-13) So there are two things here that reflect badly on these Jews, Pharisees and temple officials. First, there is their two-faced thinking about what is right to do on the Sabbath, accepting circumcision but objecting to a man carrying his bed-roll. The second is their hard heartedness in being more concerned about minutiae of keeping man-made rules than about the shear wonder of a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years being healed. Surely any right-minded person with a heart should rejoice at such a thing happening?
But that raises the question whether things like appearance, rule-keeping, respectability and pride should be allowed to quench the wonder of the working of the Holy Spirit, whether it be for healing or for bringing simple release. Do we hinder the working of the Holy Spirit (directed by Jesus from his Father’s right hand in heaven) because we are fearful of breaking the rules of respectability, order and routine? Are we more like the Pharisees in the way we do not want the peace and order and predictability of our services (for example) and our lives to be disrupted if we opened to the door to the Holy Spirit (God!) to have His way in our lives and the life of the Church?