During this fast season we are exploring - through what we read in a chapter a day of the Bible - who God is and what He is like.
1. Pray and read - preferably together
2. Pray and share
You might think a healing miracle would be good news. For the man there for 38 years it must have been amazing. He was liberated. But it was not good news for everyone. The religious leaders were upset that the Law had been broken. They needed liberation of a different kind!
They challenged His authority to act outside the Law. And from the perspective of normal human beings they were justified in doing so. After all they were responsible for good order so that people could worship God in ways that had been revealed in the scriptures.
Jesus’ answer is never to respond on their own terms. He does not meet force with force but with love. He does not meet religion with religion but with real life. He does not push Himself forward and meet human authority with his own, but claims to have no authority except what Father gives him.
What enraged the religious people was the close relationship Jesus had with His Father. They could understand human force, religion and authority. But they had no frame of reference for the true spiritual authority that comes not from human sources but from God Himself.
It was not His miraculous birth that gave Him authority. When Jesus lived as a man on earth with all the limitations of humanity He did not stop being truly God but He accepted those limitations. Otherwise He could not have been a Saviour - He had to experience everything as a human. If He had not really been tempted His sinless sacrifice of Himself would not have the same meaning and effect. But in fact He was tempted in every way like we all are (Hebrews 4:15); the key difference is that He chose only to do what He saw Father doing.
It was not His miracles or His teaching that gave Him authority. It was not even His sinless lifestyle that gave Him authority.
Jesus’ authority came in the same way as ours - through an intimate friendship with God the Father through God the Holy Spirit. Jesus could enjoy that friendship because He was without sin. We can enjoy that friendship because Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for our sin. He actually became sin at the Cross so we could be forgiven and even be set free from the power of sin.
He became human so that we humans could be filled with divine life. He emptied Himself so we could be filled with the Spirit and enjoy that intimate friendship with God. That is more liberating than a healing miracle!
3. Pray and act
Lord, help us to rely totally on You not our own abilities, to see what You are doing and to do it with You. Give us grace to respond to You in each circumstance of life, so that others around can experience You through us. We want to develop friendship with you not seek to push ourselves, so that we can influence others with true spiritual authority.