A few years ago I read Richard Rohr’s Falling Upwards; the subtitle is ‘A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life’. In it, Rohr argues that, in the first half of life, we learn to obey rules; in the second half, we learn which ones we can break (you may want to hide this from your kids).
If today’s reading is anything to go by, Jesus agreed with the view that rules are not absolute. The particular rule in question in John 5 is not working on the Sabbath – one of the 10 commandments, no less. When Jesus is criticised for healing on the Sabbath and telling the lame man to carry his mat, he does not defend himself by saying that this isn’t work, he says, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”
Which day of the week is it in God’s calendar? Genesis counts as far as day 7, the Sabbath, on which God rested. Is he still resting? Jesus tells us here that a new week has begun in heaven; God is back at work with a new creation (hence the start of the gospel ‘In the beginning …’), and Jesus is the power through whom this new creation is brought about.
Heavenly rules and earthly rules do not always coincide; our earthly calendar may be out of sync with the heavenly calendar. How can we make sure that we are in step with Jesus?