(We’re going to have a two week break from the Aspiring series, but we will be back. For two weeks we’re going to pick up on the short meditations in John’s Gospel we’ve started before)
Short Meditations in John 5: 1. Observing the Law
Jn 5:1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast
It was an interesting thing about Jesus that although he spoke about bringing freedom he acted out the life of a good Jew and obeyed the Law of Moses. We aren’t told which ‘feast’ this was that Jesus attended in Jerusalem but it must have been one of the three pilgrimage feasts to which all Jewish males were expected to attend – Passover, Pentecost or Tabernacles: “Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Deut 16:16)
Jesus came from heaven to live in this God-revealing culture and so he went along with the Law which, after all, God had instigated for this people, and each aspect of it drew the Jew back into an awareness of God and of their relationship with Him. Jesus reinforced that by attending these feasts. John mentions Jesus going up to Passover at least 3 times: 2:13,23 / 6:4 / 11:55, 12:1 and also the feast of Tabernacles (7:2) and the Feast of Dedication (10:22). It has been suggested that his ability to go up to so many feasts indicates he has a wealthy background, for poor people could rarely afford to make such a pilgrimage. Perhaps the ‘inheritance’ of the three wise men (Mt 2) still provides for him or provided for Joseph to build a successful business. Real possibilities.
Now we might be skeptical about ‘keeping the Law’ (and we’ll see this in later studies) but it is an expression of God’s desire for the way His people, back in those days, should live their lives. Much of it cannot apply to us today, but nevertheless in the New Testament we find many instructions that we should heed which are tantamount to ‘laws’. We aren’t saved by them but we are saved to keep them, because they are God’s desires for the way we live our lives today.
The other thing to be remembered is that these acts of following the Law by Jesus led him to places and circumstances that just gave him further opportunity to reveal the Father and His love. This feast is going to mean that Jesus will be in Jerusalem again and there he will find a needy person and he is going to bless that person and thus reveal God’s love. This particular healing is going to add a further dimension to the things we have seen so far about Jesus that are revealed in the context of the healing.
Later on, Jerusalem would become a place of threat and eventual death for Jesus but for now, before the threat builds, Jesus takes the opportunity of being there to reveal something of the glory of God yet again.