Too often we look at the Pharisees in negative light. Their actions give us many valid reasons to do so. In our reading today they looked at the man Jesus healed and gave this condemnation, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn't allow you to carry that sleeping mat!” (John 5:10b NLT) Too often they were more concerned about the letter of the Law than the heart of the Law. We give them a bad reputation for their hatred toward Jesus. In our minds, we think of them in completely negative terms.
However, as an honest man, I do have to give them credit where it is deserved. When they come to Jesus to harass Him for breaking Sabbath rules, they fully understand His claims. Jesus responds to their harassment by saying, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” (John 5:17 NLT) They were furious and wanted Jesus killed. In their reaction, they understood the claims Jesus was making.
We praise the Apostles for their ministries, and rightly so. But we often forget how much they struggled to understand Jesus and His claims. From very early in Jesus ministry the Pharisees understood the claims he was making. While they understood them, they certainly did not accept them. However, what it does show is that their education and study of scripture brought them to a point where they understood the rich claims Jesus was making.
How are you in your Bible reading and knowledge? Is it preparing you to be ready to see the evidence of God all around you? While they did not accept it, the Pharisees where prepared intellectually to understand the claims that Jesus was making. That is a valid lesson for us to learn and apply to our lives.