21 Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. 22 Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?
Jesus answered and said to them,
Jesus ignored the insult from the crowd that He had paranoia about people trying to kill Him.
“I did one work [miracle],
Jesus reminded His listeners that He healed the paralytic on the Sabbath (Jn 5:1-18). This was His last miracle He had performed in Jerusalem 18 months previously. The Jews at that time blamed Jesus for healing on the Sabbath day.
and you all marvel.
The amazement here was the reaction to Jesus healing the paralytic.
Moses therefore gave you circumcision
By circumcising boys on the eighth day when it occurred on the Sabbath, the Jews conceded that the command to circumcise took precedence over the command not to work on the Sabbath.
(not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers),
Circumcision predated Moses. Abraham was circumcised as a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant (Ge 17:9-14). However, Moses gave formal instruction for the rite (Le 12:3).
and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.
The logic goes something like this: “If Jewish leaders circumcised a boy on the eighth day when it fell on a Sabbath, then why not heal the entire body as in the case of the paralytic on the Sabbath?”
If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath,
It was normal that Jews of Jesus’ day performed circumcision on the Sabbath. This appeared to be a contradiction of the principle of not working on Saturday. Moses said that a boy was to be circumcised on the eighth day. If the eighth day fell on a Saturday, then a conflict was created between work or non-work on the Sabbath.
so that the law of Moses should not be broken,
The Jews used a hierarchy of values that the precedence of circumcising a boy eight days after his birth was proper on the Sabbath. Normally that would have been work on the Sabbath, but they allowed for an exception when it came to the rite of circumcision.
are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?
Jesus’ argument was that if care for one part of the body was permitted on the Sabbath, then healing of the whole body should be as well. This was an argument from the lesser to the greater. How can someone do the lesser by circumcising a boy on the eighth day and not do the greater of healing a paralytic man completely?
Jesus did not argue here that a repressive law be liberalized, but that what He did in healing the paralyzed man fulfilled the purpose of the law.
Theological discernment cannot be superficial.
Making biblical judgments out of superficial appearances is major fallacy. Correct judgments must be made on the basis of truth or its consistency with reality.
Jesus argued previously that man was not made for Sabbath but the Sabbath was made for man (Mr 2:27). If this principle is true, then Jesus did not break the law. He did not have a liberal view of the law but an understanding of the true purpose of the law.