10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
The previous verse indicated that the events of healing the lame man took place on the “Sabbath.” This created a controversy between Jewish officials and Jesus. They were completely unmoved by the miracle performed for this man.
This is the point where the gospel of John begins to trace negative volition toward Jesus (Jn 5:38; 6:36; 7:47-48; 8:59; 9:22; 10:31; 11:53; 12:37). Unbelief centered around three miracles (chapters 5, 9, 11). Jesus faced implacable hostility in chapters 5-12.
Healing of paralyzed man, chapter 5
Healing of the man born blind, chapter 9
Raising of Lazarus, chapter 11
The word “life” occurs 18 times in chapters 5 and 6. In the remainder of John it occurs another 18 times.
10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured,
The idea that Jesus would heal on the Sabbath and ask the paralytic to carry his mat was offensive to Jewish leaders. It was such an important issue to them that they interrogated the healed man.
It is important to note that the apostle John always used the term “Jews” for leaders rather than for Jewish people in general.
“It is the Sabbath;
Jesus’ conflict with the leaders of His day often revolved around the Sabbath (Mr 3:4). It was a constant point of contention between the legalism of the Jewish leaders and Jesus. Jesus could have chosen another day to heal this man but He healed on the Sabbath day itself. Since the idea of the Sabbath was a prevalent idea in the culture of Judaism, Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath was highly offensive to these leaders.
it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
The Old Testament prohibited work on the Sabbath, but it did not specify the kind of work. The idea was that they were not to perform their daily employment on the Sabbath. Rabbinic Judaism went far beyond the specification of the Bible. It created many laws and rules of the Sabbath that the Word of God did not specify. These rules brought great burden on the people of Israel. They missed the point of the Sabbath (Mr 2:27).
The “lawful” here is rabbinic law, not God’s law. Rabbinic law prohibited people from carrying any object on the Sabbath and issued 39 regulations for the Sabbath not found in the Old Testament. The lame man violated the rabbinic interpretation of it. One of the laws in the Mishnah did not allow a person to carry his bed on the Sabbath.
The incident of healing on the Sabbath is the key to this section of John. It initiated open hostility toward Jesus by Jewish leaders that continued throughout the life of Jesus. The conflict about the Sabbath set the stage for the conflict and Jesus’ discourse that followed.
Grace and legalism are polar opposite principles.
People are often more concerned about rules for life than true biblical priorities. This philosophy of life attempts to change people from the outside rather than regeneration and development from the inside. This always ends in manipulation of people.
The original purpose of the Sabbath was to remind us of God’s grace. God did not rest on the seventh day but rather rested in His complete or finished work. He provided everything necessary for creation; this is grace.
Many Christians today are still burdened with legalism. Their view of Christianity is a system of works that placates God. They have little understanding of the principle of grace whereby God does the doing, whereby He provides what we need. God does not operate by our merit but by the merit of Jesus.