Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law? Why go you about to kill me?…
(vers. 19-24): —
I. A FOURFOLD FACT PREMISED.
1. Moses gave the Jews the law, moral and ceremonial, with its statutes against murder, about the Sabbath and circumcision.
2. Moses incorporated circumcision in his statute-book to prevent the law in this item from being broken as it had been prior to his time.
3. The Jews were accustomed to administer this rite upon the Sabbath.
4. They did so that the law might not be broken, as it would have been if delayed, to save the Sabbath.
II. A SIMPLE ARGUMENT CONDUCTED.
1. The Jews were not wrong in their procedure with regard to circumcision. He taught that the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27, 28).
2. Christ, a fortiori, could not have been wrong in His work on the Bethesda cripple. If He suspended the law, so did they. If they had a good reason, He had a better.
3. The leaders of the people were wrong in seeking to kill Christ. This was obvious, since He had proved that He had broken neither the Sabbath nor the law.
III. A NECESSARY LESSON TAUGHT.
1. Not to judge according to appearances. Neither men nor deeds can be safely estimated by their external aspects. As it is the man's interior that constitutes the man (Proverbs 23:7), so the motive enshrined forms the act. Appearances are frequently deceptive; cf. Hannah (1 Samuel 1:15) and Paul (Acts 26:25).
2. To judge according to truth. In every instance there is a judgment of man or deed which corresponds with truth and justice. This is always the characteristic of the Divine (Psalm 67:4; Psalm 96:13; 1 Samuel 16:7; John 5:30; 1 Peter 2:23), and ever should be of human (Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:16; Proverbs 31:9; Philippians 4:8) judgments.Learn:
1. Pretenders to the greatest reverence for Divine law are sometimes its most flagrant transgressors.
2. A man may meditate murder in his heart and yet think himself a saint.
3. It is easier to keep the law in the letter than in the spirit, to circumcise the body than circumcise the heart.
4. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
5. Nothing more attests depravity than to hate Christ and Christianity for their practical beneficence.
6. The only physician who can work a cure upon the whole man is Christ.
7. The propriety of setting in judgment on our own judgments.
(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?