John: Day 5

Lord of the Sabbath

by

Today's Text: John 5:1-47, Exodus 20:8-11, Luke 6:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Text: John 5:1-47, Exodus 20:8-11, Luke 6:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

I’ll never forget the day I sat down to study my Bible and discovered my toddler had beaten me to the pages. Scribble marks adorned two chapters in Luke—big loopy scribbles in permanent blue ink. “Oh, no!” reverberated within. This was my favorite Bible, the one I spent time with daily over a hot cup of coffee. I was learning to do inductive study with this Bible and marking key words with care. I’d cringe if I had to erase a bit of colored pencil, knowing it wouldn’t be clean. But this was more than a smudged word. Two entire pages had been ruined.

I sat my little girl on my lap to explain gently that she couldn’t color in mommy’s Bible. She’d meant no harm, of course, but this was a teachable moment. She simply couldn’t go around taking pen to paper in books around the house.

But in that moment the Lord graciously spoke to my heart. My daughter hadn’t taken a pen to any other books, only this book. She was modeling what she’d seen.   

“Sweetie, were you ‘studying’ like Mommy?”

She smiled, nodding her head big.

It became my teachable moment. Instead of focusing on “the rules” or my own angst over the pages, I could see the bigger picture. God had been moving in my little girl’s heart, drawing her to His Word. She wanted to interact with it in the only way she knew how. Lifting my focus helped me to see God at work, which changed everything.

It’s often easy to miss God’s hand at work, just as many did when Jesus walked the earth. I’m astounded when I read of the man Jesus healed by the pool of Bethesda, because of the scene afterward. People had seen this man laying around for thirty-eight years, and suddenly he was walking. Yet, no one said, “Wow! What happened? How were you cured?” No one praised God that he’d been delivered from decades of infirmity. Instead, the healed man is chastised for carrying his pallet on the Sabbath. And the Jewish leaders want to know, not who cured him, but who had the audacity to tell him to pick up his pallet and walk with it (John 5:12).  

Jesus, the Son of God, was there among them. A miracle had been done in their midst. Yet, focusing on the rules of the Sabbath, they missed the Lord of the Sabbath.  

How often do we do the same? How often are we so focused on one side of a circumstance that we miss God’s purposes altogether?

Jesus is the Author of life. And He brings not only life, but light, grace, and glory into that which seems dead, dark, and overwhelming (Acts 3:15; 2 Corinthians 4:6). We’re told to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) because when our eyes are faith-filled, we see the divine. We see God.

Jesus is always working, in every facet of our lives and the lives of those around us. Let’s pray to keep our eyes fixed on Him, so we can behold every moment.

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Kim Cash Tate is the author of several books, including Though I Stumble (2016) and Cling:  Choosing a Lifestyle of Intimacy with God (2017). A former practicing attorney, she has a passion for studying and teaching the Word of God. Kim lives in St. Louis with her husband and their two young adult children.

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  • How often have I missed God’s purpose because I’m so focused on the rules? Wow! This really is something to ponder. Thank you God for making me aware of how I should take a closer look at You at work in situations that seem to break (my) rules.

  • This is so good! I am so grateful that the Spirit illuminates the word.
    I need to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen. I tend to want to “do” most of the time instead of nurturing the relationship with the Lord.

  • Kristen Clegs

    I was sobered at the realization that, at the pool, “lay a multitude of invalids,” yet Jesus healed one man. How many people did Jesus NOT heal? Can I trust God’s goodness to allow suffering indefinitely for no tangible reason? Can I trust God’s purpose in allowing some to be “Jobs,” and others to be “Lazaruses?”

  • God is speaking to my heart so much about being a grace-giver… about rejoicing as He does amazing things in the lives of those around me. Sometimes I still find myself wrapped up in the “legality” of things… thinking like the Pharisees. But, I hear Him daily reminding me to extend grace, knowing full well that, at the times I need to extend grace, He is at work. My heart’s desire is to extend grace and love where, at one time, I would have laid down the law…. to soften the hearts of those who He’s called me to extend grace and love to, so that He can do His work. It’s not my job to fix people… it’s just my job to love.

  • Praise the miracle worker who can work good in all situations and NOT focus on the rules and “right behaviors”!

  • The studies get better and better as I read here. Thank you, I appreciate knowing that Jesus kept His eyes on the sparrow for our sake, as I’m learning to do in a daily basis of keeping my eyes on Him. I pray that all of us in attendance today will continue to do the same. It’s hard, but all things are possible with God!

  • Oh my heart needed this today.

    Focus on the giver not the gift. I can be like the mother on the story, and jump to disappointment, instead of rejoicing that a person is being pulled to Christ.

    Lord help my heart hear your truth in those situations. Change my heart to give you all the glory, and pursue none for myself.

  • I met a man just like the paralytic man in today’s Scripture. Bedridden for 32 years. He rocked our lives and we have two boys with the same condition now and in China now adopting one more in a different but also precarious medical condition. I could see this story and it humbled me to think of how often I move my eyes from what God is doing to what I can see. I needed this so much today.

  • Heather Fringer

    I thought that it was amazing that when Jesus healed that gentleman that couldn’t walk for 38 years and he began to walk away carrying his items, that the first thing that everyone was fast to do was to get upset at him because he was not following the rules on the Sabbath day. I love how above Kim states, “Jesus is the Author of life. And He brings not only life, but light, grace, and glory into that which seems dead, dark, and overwhelming (Acts 3:15; 2 Corinthians 4:6). We’re told to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) because when our eyes are faith-filled, we see the divine. We see God.” It really makes me open my eyes a little more.

  • I started this yesterday, and got stuck in John 5:5-8 –
    One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve walked with the Lord is that He doesn’t ask questions for the sake of gaining information. Even in His humanity, He’s the sovereign Lord of all. He already knows the answer. When Jesus asks a question – He is asking for sake of the other person. At first glace, asking an invalid of 38 years seems downright stupid. OF COURSE he’d want to be well, right? Well, maybe. In my own life, I’ve found that it’s easier to hang on to those broken places because of familiarity or fear. The invalid knew how to be an invalid. He didn’t remember how to walk. In response to Jesus’ question, the invalid answers honestly with his own feeble attempts to heal himself: “I try, sir, really I do! But, people get to the stirred waters before I can.” I picture Jesus smiling at his words…then speaking the command: “Rise and walk.”

    Jesus’ question gets posed to us, I think, more than we realize. “Daughter, do you want to be well?” It makes us come face to face with ourselves…a mirror of sorts. For those who are willing, the answer can be filled with years + years of their own feeble attempts to heal themselves…+ their honesty doesn’t change His willingness to heal. Perhaps, too, something can be said that their willingness to be healed is birthed from their honesty with the Healer.

    Oh Jesus, may our hearts be filled with willingness to lean into whatever Your doing. Even if that means You healing the hard places that hurt our hearts. Help us to be honest with you and rest in the embrace of the One who never stops His work. <3

  • I am behind on this study a few days but I am grateful to get to this day when I did. I am guilty of looking at my circumstances and being completely overwhelmed, frustrated, and heartbroken by them.
    Due to a heart condition I am unable to have biological children and while over the years I have worked through those emotions this weekend proved they were still there. My husband and I have decided to foster and be open to bringing older children into our home more than likely no babies. Friends of ours had a baby last week and while I usually have no problem visiting friends during that time this instance was completely different. I have cried myself to sleep the last four nights, spent days in complete hurt, sadness and just overcome with frustration that I will never have my own baby to hold.
    Many times through those tears I think God was trying to talk to me. Telling me I didn’t know what was coming. Telling me we will have a beautiful story. Letting me know that he is working. I didn’t want to hear those things. I pushed them away and let the tears continue to fall. Reading these words today though made me stop and acknowledge that what is being spoken to me is true. God is at work in our lives. He knows what we need. I need to stop and look at what is He doing through us and follow Him in it. I pray I don’t miss his purposes in all he is doing. I pray I recognize when He speaks to me and when I see His hand at work. The tears may continue to fall but I pray they quickly turn into tears of joy as I look at what He has done and is doing in my life.

    • Nancy

      Ashley, your decision to be a foster family is an amazing choice. I feel that God is preparing you to have joy beyond belief when you touch the hearts and lives of the “older” foster children you take into your home. Praying for your peace and contentment in your decision. God bless.

    • Lindsay

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, sweet friend. May God richly bless you and your husband-far more than you could have ever imagined or dreamed!

  • This was so great. I wonder how many teachable moments I have missed because I have been focusing on rules rather than the Lord of the Sabbath. It made tears come to my eyes when you changed tour tactic with your little one. It certainly gives food for thought!!!

  • Once again brought tears!! Jesus is working in my life and I failed to see the other side of my circumstance instead of what He is doing to get me closer to Him!! Thank you for this ladies!!

  • Astounding that I never realized that the first question of a man who had been crippled when he was healed was why are you carrying your mat on sabbath… crazy they got distracted by the rules and their minds and missed Jesus… astounding!

    • Sonja

      So true Kelly!! Super convicting too – how often have I found myself asking a similar question – instead of embracing the grace of Christ I get wrapped up in a technicality. Praying that all our eyes will be lifted up today to see the larger picture no matter our circumstances!

  • I love reading about the amazing miracles Jesus performed and thinking of the many ways he has blessed my life, this took me two days to read through, but it was well worth the time in meditation on this Scripture.

  • Yes Lord, I need to keep my eyes focused on you. Right now. F o c u s

  • I think I’m missing something, unfortunately! I would love some insight on why the reading ends with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18? Thank you!!

  • This is amazing, how many times have i judged someone based on the “rules”? And how many times has Christ shown just the opposite. The other thing that stood out to me is that the author chose to see how her little girl was following in her footsteps. My one year old showed me today just how much she pays attention to what i do, and it scares me because im far from perfect, and like it or not i am a role model for her. May God give me wisdom to be a godly role model.

  • Naomi LaBoo

    Very eye opening!

  • So crazy that my husband and I spent time with old friends last night where we talked about this exact thing.
    It’s not about “the rules” and rituals of Christianity, but about Christ.

  • Wow this was such an eyeopener for me. How important it is to remove the focus from our rules and own “important” stuff to the essence of life. The Author of all life has given me life and wants to have a relationship with him. What a great word for today!

  • Jennifer Wood

    This was such a good mommy devotional for me today- I need to see my baby girl with eyes of grace and not just keeping her in the rules or to my convenience. Lord, give me eyes, patience and the presence of mind to embrace the thousands of teachable moments you give us every day!

  • Sabrina Klomp

    As soon as I read those words, ‘Sweetie, were you studying like Mommy?’ I could not help but cry and repent at my missing it so often. With my second child on the way, I have struggled these past 8 months with so much anxiety and worry over how I will juggle it all with my toddler. I know I’m missing out on God’s perspective by giving my fears and doubts more validation than they need. I would love some prayer from my sisters here!

    • Merry G

      First off, congratulations! I recently had my second child and claimed my status as a mom with “two under two.” I had lots of help during the first two months but the transition is hard for sure. But doable! I am someone who likes activities, schedules, organizing, checking off each little box. By God’s grace, the biggest and most valuable thing I learned (around when my son turned 2 months) was that God wasn’t looking for me to be perfect or to even get out of my PJ’s. My quiet times with Him were in the shower or while feeding my youngest. I had to learn to let some expectations or commitments fall away for a few months. Don’t stress! You will be in my prayers for sure!

    • Hannah

      Praying for you. I have a toddler and a 1 week old. I understand your fear, but God keeps reminding me to take one day at a time. He keeps reminding me that he already knows exactly what I need so stop worrying about it. He is so good. One thing that helps me when I get anxious is to remember all of the things from the past that God has walked me thru. Remember, he is faithful. He is good. His words are true. You are going to be a great mom of 2!

    • Gema Muniz

      Sister is human nature to worry and grow anxious about things when we dont know the outcome of, but is our jobs as christian women to not let these things consume us. Im a mother of one and have allowed these very same fears to not allow me to pursue having another child eventhough my husband and I look forward to more kids. Lets not miss Gods blessings in the midst of the crazy lifes we live in. We thrive to be perfect mothers, wives, and housekeepers when all God wants us to be is happy, happy in the middle of the craziness and the unknown. Lets not deprive ourselves from the internal joy God gives us every day let us not miss the daily joys of being pregnant, being a mother, and being loved by others. Praying for you and myself to learn how to let go and just live in the moment. God bless you sister.

    • Jennifer Wood

      Congratulations! I was having this same struggle, expecting my second with an 18 month old so busy and needy. I spent many an anxious moment wondering how I could do it all and be everything for everyone. I just lost my second in a late miscarriage and it’s made me take a new perspective on the sufficient grace that God gives each hour. For me, it’s the grace to grieve and to embrace being a mommy of one again. For you, it sounds like it’s the grace to be there for both of your children and not lose your sanity! It’s not an easy job! I will pray for you! I will also pray that your baby arrives safely and with wonderful health!

  • Kim, this resonated with me so powerfully this morning, and it was the exact theme that struck me as I was reading the passage in John, too. It made me question how often I have missed my own teachable moments, miracles, or moving of God because I am so focused on wrestling for control and refusing to trust Him in the uncertainty or periods of waiting (much like the Pharisees were waiting for the Messiah and trying to fashion Him in their own image to fit their expectations and desires).

    My prayer for today (and beyond) is that the Lord will open our eyes to our reality and His grace and help us to focus on Him rather than our circumstances. Thank you for your beautiful devotion!

  • Ruby J Moody

    Thank you for this lesson. I have been going through a situation this week and now that I have read your lesson I now realize that thru you God has shown me how this situation will work out. I know that we miss out of Gods work by focusing on something else and not seeing God in whatever you are going thru. Thank you for this lesson that has helped me see what God is telling me.

  • Kim touched a very important point. Sometimes we miss Gods work because we’re so focused on something else or we let our emotions blind us to His hand that teaches and blesses. We’re the ones who complicate our lives and situations.

  • Kim your observations and insight really helped me today! God made it so simple and we make it so hard!

  • Thank you Kim, This really spoke to me…the rules! I struggle daily balancing what is truly from God and what is the Pharisaical parts of my upbringing.
    God bless

  • Oh lord, let my voice and thoughts and love for rules and stability not be too loud to drown out your voice. Help me see your work today and hear your voice.

  • Wow! What a beautiful reminder to slow down and pay attention. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Keri McCue

    Oh man, today’s message is so good! I struggle with this so much. I know that I can tend to follow the rules and miss the moments where God is speaking most. I miss the teachable moments and the small hints of God speaking through a situation. I pray that the Lord works on my heart in this area!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

  • ChristinaGandy

    Dear God,
    It’s me, Christina. Your word is not always simple. Are you the only one who can do work on the sabbath? I do some kind of work every day. It is not very often I just sit around all day and do nothing or simply pray. I’ve always been confused about this one. I at least told my work I have a commitment to church on Sunday.

    • Sarah_Joy

      Christina,
      I certainty don’t know the bible perfectly, nor do I think I should speak on God’s behalf. However, I would encourage you to seek out ways to find times or days of rest. I think we can just as easily become tied to the rules of sabbath as much as people in Jesus’ day. Instead I believe God wants us to rest, rest from work intentionally (whatever your job allows) and rest in Him. When we work constantly without stopping, we rely on ourselves. When we stop to rest, we rely on God to refill us and we remember that ultimately He sustains us. Hope this gives grace to your question and freedom to take the time for rest as your schedule allows. Blessings as you navigate this difficult balance.

  • Leenda324

    The Lord is so good, so tender and kind, even in these “little” things. What a wonderful Christmas miracle!!

  • I was working a lot during this holiday season – so much so, that I felt it blew right on by and frankly, that I missed it. I felt I often tried to force moments, force relaxation, and force joy and mindful worship and reflection on Christmas in particular, because I knew I didn’t have an extended window to celebrate. Finances are overwhelming and my family’s definition of a celebration has changed considerably from years past as a result. So I focused hard that day, or tried, but I felt rushed – an extension of how I also feel at work and how I tend to work myself up into regularly otherwise, getting so hyped up in the loud surroundings and other voices that I am inwardly screaming for the stillness and the sacred. That chaos makes me think of the man from today’s passage – feeling like he was lost in the crowd of people getting healed all around him, resigning himself to the chaos, and not allowing room for the sacred.

    Oh how things change when we sit in awe before the throne and wait for the Lord. When we EXPECT to hear from Him. When we hand over our mess and allow Him to heal us, heal our circumstances, release expectations of what holidays, our health, and our lives should be. He far exceeds anything we ever dared dream when we do. But it’s getting there, to that small little quiet place of kneeling. Praying that I allow myself to sit in the uncomfortable expectancy and vulnerability that comes with our waiting for healing, waiting for Jesus, today.

    • Kassidy

      Wow thank you J for your insight! It was really powerful for me as I’m a college student preparing for a very busy spring semester. I know it will be a semester of chaos and exhaustion unless I truly take time to rest in Christ and wait expectantly for Him. Thank you for the wonderful reminder!

      • J

        Praying for you tonight, Kassidy! That you would find calm in the Lord as you wait and see what wonderful new things He has planned for you this semester! Wishing you grace, joy, and peace, and courage to wait!

    • Amy

      This encouraged me so much.

  • Oh, may I not miss You, Lord!

  • Lord show me, and I will pay attention

  • I feel very selfish after reading these wonderful post.
    Could I please ask for prayers? I need to find peace. I read Gods word and pray but still feel distant from him. I struggle looking for something to complete me in this world…….namely a man. I was saved many years ago but have always felt this way. Thank you:)

    • J

      I will of course pray for you, Darla. I understand so well what you are feeling. I think it is safe to say a lot of us do. Certainly don’t feel selfish – this community of women are some of the kindest I have found, and we are all willing to support an pray for one another!

      Praying that our Good, Good Father and Sovereign and Mighty Lord will work wonders in and through your life today, Darla. That He will speak to you in ways that are special and specific to your heart, that resonate deeply with you, and that allow you to soak in His truth and His incredible promises. May He give you the strength not to turn to the right or to the left, seeking solace or completion in anything or anyone else but Him, today – and may He surround you with a community of others who are pursuing His heart that can strengthen you, counsel you, and lift you up. I am praying that the Lord uses your many gifts and talents to be a shining and radiant light to others today. May dear Darla feel so loved and cherished by you, Father. Fill her with Your stillness and bring her heart peace and courage. In Your Mighty Name I pray, Jesus. Amen.

      Have a wonderful day, Darla! Know you aren’t walking this journey alone.

    • Debbie

      Praying, isn’t it funny how we want what we want , not what He sees we need. God’s timing is prefect, His plan for you and me is always right ,even if it is difficult and not our plan. Peace to you and your sorrowing heart.

    • Nads

      Darla,

      I agree with J’s comments and prayer for you…I echo it. I pray that you will find joy and patience as you live in communion with Christ and His will for you.

      I do ALSO pray that He will give you the delights of your heart in a beautiful man who will lift you even closer to Christ. I pray for this man’s own journey on his way to you, as you both live the pre-marriage lives you are meant to!

      I pray also for those of us who DO have a man and look to him for too MUCH of our “completeness”, shrinking our thirst for Jesus, our Living Water.

    • Lizzy

      Just prayed for you Darla! I am single woman struggling with the desire to be married, so I can very much relate to the feeling that I need a man to make me happy. Please pray for me as well!

  • churchmouse

    The man at the pool at Bethesda thought he needed a man to put him in the pool for healing. He learned, after 38 years of suffering, that all he really needed was an encounter with Jesus. Lord, help me today to look around and see You wherever I am, whatever I’m doing. Let me encounter You in the ordinary moments. You will make them extraordinary. Thank You in advance.

    • Heather (MNmomma)

      joining you in prayer this morning!

    • Tina

      Churchmouse, Amen… joining you in your prayer….Every minute , every second is a blessing because if we just look to Him, we will see His goodness and mercy, grace and love everywhere… in the small, in the big…His hand of goodness and blessing is there… Amen.
      Sending love and hugs across the ocean dear sister…
      Happy a Blessed New year. Xxx

    • Taylor

      I tend to make it very hard, but it is quite simple.. ALL I need is Jesus

  • Lord, I pray that you continue to work in me, for the job is never done. Open my eyes so I can see the good works you are doing around me. Focus my attention, so I can learn from your point of view. Let my actions be my testimony.

  • Wow, this spoke to me on so many levels this morning, including the “mom” moments of seeing only one side of a situation without taking a step back to look at the big picture. What is really going on here besides what I choose to see? How many times have I overlooked Christ at one of His teachable moments to me because I’ve been focused on some other minor detail? Oh how I need you, Lord, to help me focus on what you want me to see in all situations. Help me to see you.

  • Jesus is always working, in every facet of our lives and the lives of those around us…..What truth… some we see clearly in the workings out and logistics of life and some arrive at our door in a ‘ parable’ sort of way….
    My christmas tree story, is a clear and tangible truth of Jesus working….always, even in the little things…

    This year has been an expensive year, not much saved for rainy days to the point where I worried to even buy the traditional Christmas tree that would bring the family, one and all together to dress and decorate… Every year we buy a new decoration that represents rhat year, and if you asked my boys, they would proably be able to tell you which year, or perhaps the year such and such happened..
    It always has been a lovely christmas eve evening…full of laughter, and joy and love and hugs and ‘remember this ones’
    This year I was struggling to justify paying money I didnt have, to buy a tree that we would take down five days later… I did pray on how best to tell my children or even to ask them to buy the tree but I was worried they would think I was struggling financially and reprimand me for not coming to them.. Anyway, my youngest calked christmas eve to say he was on his way home and was threr anything I needed. I said ‘the tree…’..He said okay. Feeling relief I praised God and sat down to have a tea.. then I got a text to go and meet him at the farm to pick it up…as his car was too small… the farm was closed but I was greeted with ‘.. there are two left and the lady says we can have one…’ I could see the trees but my thinking was they will be straggly as they were the last…but I was wrong the one we chose, I am almost in tears as I remember, was the most beautiful tree I have ever seen, one that would not shed its pins and absolutely the right height…I looked at the lady in the window giving the thumbs up, and the words merry Christmas being mimed.. what a gift for me and my family… we got to spend our time together following the old tradition in love and joy and hope and peace of heart…
    Just as an aside, the price tag on that tree was £50…
    Absolutely what a gift and for sure, He is indeed Lord of the Sabbath…

    I know the tree has to come down today but holding off until Sunday….its too beautiful..and I like the reminder that miracles, healings, blessings come and are given at anytime…

    Thank you lord God for everything …everything, for being in the lesser and the most…nothing is impossible for you, no matter the day…you bless and you bless and you bless…thank you lord God, thank you..
    Hugs to all, as I think on my blessings and remem you,…xxx

    • Abi Wells

      Thanks for sharing this Tina – God moving in the little things and the big, in the things that mean a lot to us and the things that are less thought of. Praying that you would continue to know His provision & peace this year and stand in the truth that God is always working.
      A x

    • Libby

      Merry Christmas Tina! I love your posts!

      • Kim

        Thank you Tina, indeed He blessed in even the small things! He knows the desires of our hearts!

    • Laurie

      Lovely story. He even gives us the desires of our hearts.

    • Bethany

      Oh, how I loved reading this today! I would bet you loved this tree just a little more – just knowing your Heavenly Father loves you so much that He provided your Christmas tree! What a beautiful gift!

    • Heather (MNmomma)

      So very awesome Tina! Love and hugs – and continued blessings!

    • Michele

      Oh that is so awesome!! I love how God works! Thank you for sharing, Tina. <3

    • Ashley

      Thank you for sharing ❤️

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