A Thought from the Bishop's Chapel – Tuesday, March 24

So often Jesus cured and healed on the sabbath.  However, these actions on the holy day of rest violated the law.  This aroused enormous controversy and ultimately resentment of Jesus Himself.   Jesus, on the other hand, justifies His actions by saying, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath” (Matthew 12:8).

I think of the episode described in the Gospel of St. John (John 5:1-16).  A man, ill for 38 years, has been attempting to enter the pool of Bethesda when the waters stir.   However, because of the press of the crowd, the man remains unable to enter the pool at the appropriate time.    It is highly significant that Jesus is the one to approach the man first.  He asks the man, “Do you want to be well?” (John 5:6).   Jesus knows all along what it is He will do.   He will heal the man and in so doing accomplish the Father’s will (John 5:17).  He will exercise the Divine prerogative.   He is “Lord of the sabbath.”

The healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda can teach us many things.  The central lesson, however, concerns who Jesus is, as the Son of Man, the Son of God, the “Lord of the sabbath.”  He does good not to violate the law.  He does good because He is who He is.   All of this will climax just three chapters later in the Gospel of St. John, when Jesus will assert, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM” (John 8:58).