The beginning of John 5 shows that Jesus was not going to work in the confines of religious leaders or their expectations. Healing, in their minds, was not to be done on the Sabbath. When these leaders saw that Jesus had healed a man who had been lame for thirty-eight years, they began to “persecute Jesus because He was doing these things on the Sabbath” (5:16). For them, legalism was more important than setting someone free. Many of us would probably take the opportunity to argue for our rights and liberty we have in Christ to help those who are suffering. Not Jesus. Notice the direction of His response.
“But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working”” (5:17). The reason for anything we do in ministry must never be our education, denomination or human authority. Jesus refers to what God His Father is doing “now”, or “a point of time simultaneous with the event” that Jesus just performed. The inference here is that Jesus was joining His Father in the work that He was doing at that moment.
Perhaps the greatest challenge we have is in joining God in the work that He is doing at this very moment. I fear that much of our missionary work is the result of human and organizational planning rather than seeking to be “on mission with God” – joining Him where and how He is already at work. If we really want to glorify God in the work He wants us to do, we must join Him!
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