John 5:9-18 Rigid Patterns

And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews[d] said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Rigid Patterns

Somehow, as we grow up, we develop patterns.  There is nothing wrong with having patterns.  Creation has cyclical patterns embedded in sunrise and sunset, the flow of the seasons, and the need for meals.  However, most of us find that we become rigid about some of the patterns we develop.  We become enslaved to them.  The myth is that we are secure if we control our lives and we are unsafe if the patterns are broken.  In its most extreme forms people develop obsessive compulsive disorder.

If Jesus is to do anything new, the security of our patterns will be challenged.  If we are to grow the safety of routines will be broken.  Our safety is in God and Jesus, as God incarnate, knew that.  The salvation of the people of Israel did not come through their Sabbath keeping, it came through their dependence on God.  God heals a man through his submission to Jesus, but the Jewish authorities do not rejoice in the life-giving healing that Jesus works.  Their security is broken.  They are presented with the need to unthink their laws, but they would rather attack and become cruel in the name of God than admit that God has brought mercy and grace through Jesus.

In your life, is God trying to open you up for deep changes?  Why protect the way that you have known before?  Is it really better than God’s touch?  It may not be easy to take risks and change, but without it we remain crippled and stunted.


We have physical ailments that we bring to you.  Our bodies fall short of perfection and our minds are darkened by sin.  Help us to let go of anxiety and embrace the next step you have for us.  Let us be open to teaching from your word that leaves us feeling exposed and unsafe.  Help us to find our safety in you.


  1. What is Jesus doing?
  2. How can Jesus’ actions be considered evil?
  3. How is Jesus updating the rules on the Sabbath?
  4. Should we keep a Sabbath today? What can be done on it?
  5. What are some patterns or routines that you might be wed to?  Do they need challenging?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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24 Responses to John 5:9-18 Rigid Patterns

  1. Jenna says:

    1. Jesus heals on the Sabbath and claims to be equal with God.
    2. Jesus was ignoring the pharisees’ extra rules about how to follow the Law by telling the healed man to carry his mat – Jesus was making a point, that God doesn’t want our religious practices and rules, He wants our love to be demonstrated to Himself and others.
    3. See above.
    4. God has set up a pattern for us of resting once a week. I don’t see Sabbath as a day on which I can’t do things so much as a day on which I set aside extra time to do certain things, like fellowship with a body of believers, be fed from God’s Word, and spend time in worship praising Him.
    5. I hate change. A lot. I am terrified of it, mainly because how out of control it makes me feel. Through just this weekend, God challenged me with a change that might be happening in my family that I have no control over. Through that, God dramatically reminded me just how much of a control freak I am and how I have still so much to learn about surrendering my will to His and trusting Him when I don’t like what He may do.

  2. Dylan says:

    1. I this passage, Jesus defends his actions of healing on the Sabbath by equating himself with God.
    2. The Sabbath is a day of rest, which in these times had very strict rules developed by Jewish leaders. Even healing on the Sabbath was thought tone punishable by God. Also, Jesus claimed to be equal with God, which the Jews did not believe, accusing him of blasphemy.
    3. Jesus is raising the bar for humanity, bringing the closer to God through himself. If the creator doesn’t stop healing on the Sabbath the neither should we. Without Jesus, this perfection of the law is not possible.
    4. I do believe a day should be set a side for rest and prayer. I am guilty of being too busy on Sundays, or if not that being lazy and meditating on the wrong things. Perhaps we shouldn’t over do it physically on Sundays and should direct most of our attention to prayer and fellowship.
    5. I want to have a more fluid day on days I work. Rather than work till I’m exhausted then being unproductive at home, I’d like to have plans for things to accomplish after work. This most importantly involves getting more sleep, which means not staying up late!

  3. Ed says:

    Great feed back I didn’t think about but will start to, thanks.

  4. Mary says:

    1. Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and then essentially told the man that he was God because his sins had been forgiven of him, which only God can do. Then to top it off he called God his father. All of which is true and that he had the authority to do, of course.
    2. Jesus is breaking a civil law by healing on the Sabbath; by asking the man to carry his mat on the Sabbath he is responsible for causing someone else to break a civil law, but Jesus is also committing what the Pharisees believe to be blasphemy by saying that he is God, which would be true if he wasn’t actually God.
    3. We are no longer under the law since we are in Christ (Gal. 3; Col. 3), but also the Sabbath was given for the benefit of the people (Mk. 2:27).
    4. Resting on the Sabbath is a great idea still today, or at least ensuring that you get rest throughout your busy schedules. Some of us need an entire day dedicated to rest because we are so busy and it forces us to stop and reset ourselves. As far as worship goes, that should be a constant daily occurrence, not just on the Sabbath. I think anything that is God honoring is acceptable to do on the Sabbath, including working.
    5. I watch TV a couple hours before bed to relax. Not sure whether or not that is something that I need to be challenged to give up or cut back on (or that my husband would go along with). TV is not really a priority, I don’t have any shows I have to see that I can’t watch online later, and it is the very last thing I do when everything else is done. But it is unproductive…

  5. Sara Cavitt says:

    1) Jesus is healing people on the Sabbath and telling them to sin no more. He is also telling people that He is equal to God.
    2) In the Jews’ eyes, any work on the Sabbath was considered evil. So for Jesus to heal a man on the Sabbath was breaking the law.
    3) He is demonstrating that laws, rules and routines should not tie us down, because everything we do is a heart issue.
    4) I believe that the Sabbath should be a day to set aside some time to worship the Lord and fellowship with His people. I also think that other things can be done on the Sabbath, but God wants us to rest and take a break from routine.
    5) I can be stuck in the routine of going to classes, going to work, doing homework, hanging out with friends, etc. I don’t think I take enough time to just rest and spend time with the Lord.

  6. Beth Coale says:

    1. Both healing someone & challenging the people to rethink what they know
    2. It does seem to be breaking God’s law
    3. He is bringing spiritual rest (Heb. 4)
    4. We find our rest in Christ, we understand our bodily need for rest and discipline ourselves to have restorative rest (whether that is a day each week/ month or little amounts of time scattered throughout the week/ month)

  7. Amy McCashen says:

    1. Healing on the Sabbath.
    2. Because the Jews followed the Sabas where they were not supposed to work. And what Jesus was doing was considered work.
    3. I don’t think Jesus was updating the rules on the Sabbath. I think Jesus was just trying to show the people that they don’t understand with the Sabbath really meant and the reasons behind it.
    4. A Sabbath is a good idea. God created our bodies and he knows that our bodies need rest. However, I do not think we should be legalistic about keeping the Sabbath.
    5. I have gotten into the routine of many things – such as attending my PCM. But I really enjoy it and I don’t think it needs challenging. I’m sure there are patterns in my life that do need to be challenged, i’m just having a hard time thinking of one.

  8. Should we keep a Sabbath today? What can be done on it? “A day should be set aside each week for as much physical and spiritual refreshment as possible. Reading and meditating on the Word should be done on it, but resting should be a big part.”
    What are some patterns or routines that you might be wed to? Do they need challenging? “Not having the ministry of availability or packing my schedule so full that I do not sacrifice in order to spend more time in prayer and meditation on the word. Yes these patterns need challenging as their are not healthy habits.”

  9. Rachel says:

    Jesus breaks the Sabbath by administering radical healing and grace to those who needed it most. He longs to do the same for us. The Sabbath should be seen as a day to rest and rely on God. Keeping the Sabbath is saying: “God, I trust you to provide more than I rely on my own self.” I am obsessed with my accomplishments and routines. I give myself to “necessities” such as work and homework while neglecting my spiritual growth. This needs to be challenged.

  10. Janice Lee says:

    1. Jesus healed the man.
    2. His actions may be considered evil because He is breaking the Sabbath.
    3. Jesus isn’t really updating the rules for the Sabbath but is pointing the people back to the heart of the Sabbath to rely fully on God.
    4. Yes, we should have a Sabbath in which we rest from our usual routine and recognize our full dependence on God.
    5. I also dislike change and prefer predictable routines. Changes, however, force me to look to God for guidance, reminding me that my eyes should always be focused on Him. I am challenged to find rest and full trust in God in the midst of each day’s business.

  11. Bethany says:

    1) Jesus is healing them and telling them to stop sinning.
    2) Jesus’ actions can be considered evil because he was doing work on Sabbath which is considered evil to the Jews.
    3) He is showing them that he is the new covenant and that the Jews do not need to be so legalistic about the laws.
    4) I think that we should acknowledge the Sabbath by worshiping God and coming together, but we do not need to be legalistic about the amount of work we do on the Sabbath.
    5) I can be stuck going to class and doing homework without thinking about God at all in the process when really God is all around us and my way of thinking should be completely consumed by Him.

  12. Nick says:

    Jesus heals the lame man on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees attempt to rebuke him because only God has the authority to work on the Sabbath. Jesus’ focus was not on the rules of the Law, but on God and relying on Him. I think that I need a more constant focus and reliance on God that is supreme over the other things that take up time in my life. I get focused on so many other things that sometimes I forget that He is the reason for why I live and He needs to be the focus of my life at all times.

  13. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1) Jesus is healing the man who could not walk…on the sabbath day.
    2)Because in the 10 commandments it says to keep the sabbath holy, and in those days keeping it holy and restful was to do nothing…and Jesus was doing more then a little something.
    3) Jesus is the rule now, because through him, we don’t need the law any longer
    4) I think we should, i do think that resting and going to church is an important part of the Sabbath, however I do not think that doing work is necessarily wrong either, as long as your focus is on God.
    5) I probably push my homework off and end up having to try to do it all on Sunday when I should be spending that time to rest and meditate on God’s word and himself.

  14. Kathleen says:

    Jesus healed on the Sabbath, which is considered evil by the Jews because they view it as work. I believe that taking a Sabbath is healthy both spiritually and physically. I see taking a Sabbath as a good discipline to try to develop, but not as something that has to be done in order to be saved. I do not think we should become legalistic about it. I practiced taking a Sabbath for a semester and it was beneficial, although some weeks it caused me more stress. I think it should be a want to and not a have to. I get stuck in the routine of school and work. It can be difficult for me to slow down and enjoy the people God has placed around me. I also have a difficult time just sitting still before the Lord. Quieting my mind and resting in His peace is something I constantly need to work on.

  15. Karas says:

    I find it interesting how Jesus interprets and applies the law. He gets to the reason behind it. I guess they thought it was evil because He seemed to be making His own rules and claiming the authority to do so, but since He really had authority, He was in the right. He is letting them know the reason behind the rules is more important than the rules themselves. I think since the Sabbath is part of the Ten Commandments it is still important. I’m not sure where the line falls of what to do or not do on it – I just know we should seek to keep it set apart. One thing I’m trying to not be wed to is the way things have always been at home. I want to be open to change if that’s what God sees is best.

  16. Dominic Shortridge says:

    4. People are in all sorts of different places in their life. Some people work mornings, some people work 2 weeks straight with no days off, some people only work one day a week. As we consider the significance of the Sabbath and its institution, we should always remember that he has made the sabbath for the sake of man, not man for the sake of the sabbath (Mark 2:27). As Christ followers we should allow ourselves to have a day of complete rest, and in a society heavily bent toward everlasting social connection, the sabbath that we observe should be considered for the complete disconnection from certain technology and connection with ones family and unified praise to God.

  17. Elizabeth Nova says:

    Reading through this, I thought about a specific area that I am currently struggling with, which is the area of communication in relation to dealing with conflict. The truth is, I suck at it. Growing up, my family was accustomed to simply ignoring and brushing under the rug any sort of problem that arose. I wasn’t taught to talk through and resolve. Consequently, it has affected my relationship with family members to the point that I feel like it is too late to resolve because there are too many layers to unfold and to deal with. It is unhealthy and I know it. Since I got married in June, this issue has been magnified during the past few months as I am being challenged to face issues and resolve them. In light of Scripture and of this passage (not that I want to take it out of context), I am convinced that this habit of mine is inhibiting me from growing. For this reason, I want to put special focus on it, seeking to face truth and be honest with myself and others for the purpose of fostering healthier relationships with those around me.

  18. zacbodine says:

    Jesus challenges and breaks every box that we try to build. Give me rules. Nope. Give me a way to show how good I am. Nope. It bothers me that this guy is healed and the religious leaders are more concerned about the interruption to their routine. I am that leader. I have so much homework, yet there are hurting and broken people who come to me to hear Jesus. Do I ignore them for an A or do I sit an hour with them as they cry because they found out they might have an STD or because they feel empty and weed doesn’t satisfy anymore and I only get a C on my assignments? My routine breaks for good reasons, but like Jesus there are consequences to every interruption. In his case the Pharisees become angry, in my case I am not getting all a’s

  19. nataliaria says:

    In this passage, Jesus interacts further with the man who was previously paralyzed, and also receives some backlash for the healing. The religious leaders who disagreed with Jesus’ decision to heal identified the miracle as a denial of God’s law that no work be done on the Sabbath, and therefore also an act of blasphemy against the sacredness of the Lord’s Day. Jesus’ reference to God as His father served to pour gasoline on the fire of this dispute.

    Jesus responds to their objections by stating that God’s work in the world is constant, and His will be as well. This seems to alter the Sabbath rules not by arguing against the sacred nature of the Sabbath, but rather by implying that working for the Lord might in fact be a sacred thing to do.

    I believe that a couple different kinds of “Sabbath” are important. First, it is essential that believers are in community with other believers in a church setting. This kind of Sabbath occurs generally on Sundays. Additionally, in lieu of God’s seventh day rest during creation, I believe that followers of Christ are also called to take time each week (or more frequently!) to put work aside and refocus themselves on Christ and the wonders of God’s grace and creation.

    I am very much a creature of habit, and I sometimes the mere fact of being in routine has called my attention away from Christ. I think that the challenging I need is to be pulled away from the routines that I have established in many areas of my life, and brought to a stronger dependence on God’s grace, strength, wisdom, and joy.

  20. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    I believe you said we have the liberty to comment/meditate however we wish regarding the passage, as long as we are doing it daily. With that, I just wanted to write about what I noticed for the first time. At the very end of this passage it says “but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” This means that whenever Jesus calls on God as his Father, which is very often, he is saying that he is equal with God. Earlier in these posts, in John 1:34 it says, “And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” I commented then and wondered what John had in his mind when he refers to Jesus as the Son of God? Does he think of a father-son relationship? Well, according to the statement here, it is saying that Jesus is of the same lineage, the same family, same substance, as God. Now that’s quite a statement! We know that it is rare, if hardly ever, that Jesus says ‘I am God” (he does say he is “I AM”, which is pretty much the same thing). Yet the fact that this is probably what the Jews were thinking every time Jesus refers to His Father. Crazy!

  21. Ashley says:

    I am thankful that God is a God of rest and that he models the discipline for us. I am thankful that he is not chaotic, but a God of order. However, I am also thankful that he allows us to be taken out of our comfort zones to make us realize that the control that we believe we have in our lives is a complete illusion. We are not able to control anything and when we step away from our habits, I think we sense this more tangibly.

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