The narrative of today’s Gospel occurred in the Temple in Jerusalem. It was just after Jesus identified himself to the man whom he had cured at the pool called Beth-zatha. It was Jesus’ response to the accusations that he had broken the Sabbath Law and had spoken blasphemy. (Jn 5:16-18) After meditating on this Gospel reading over some length of time I came to see this discourse as pivotal.
When the initial period of his ministry was over, Jesus was met with hostility and opposition. Accusations and questions were put to him by those representing Jewish power. Their understanding was based on a narrow view of their own history. They did not understand who Jesus was, or where he had come from. They misread the signs; showing kindness and doing mercy, are not work, they do not break the Sabbath!