The Difference Between Worship and Work

The Difference Between Worship and Work

John 5:1-17


It’s really interesting how humans spin things to make us appear as if by working for God we are doing Him a favor.

That’s how I see the attitude of the Pharisees as they beleaguered Jesus continually trying to best Him or catch Him doing something wrong.

They haunted Him in an effort to justify their own behavior. Little did they know who they were dealing with.


One of their pet projects was going around judging who was ‘working’ on the Sabbath, a big no- no in Jewish law. They were the Sabbath Police, making sure everyone was keeping it; all the while, they worked. Jesus was always challenging their hypocrisy. You know the type, always looking for the lack of holiness in others. Always hoping to “admonish or rebuke” others for God’s sake.


I believe Jesus loved to upset their apple cart. He was always finding ways that completely debunked their thinking. One incidence was the healing at the pool.


It was the big deal in Jewish life, the Passover, and again, Jesus was out associating with those sinners; the ones the Pharisees liked to ignore. They didn’t want to get their hands dirty. They assumed that these people had problems because, they either, had sinned egregiously, or they just didn’t have that good relationship going on with God. You know the types! We have more than our share of Pharisees in the Church. They are always judging the other guy; never themselves.


Jesus went up to Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate, where in Nehemiah we see that Eliashib had rebuilt that portion of the wall. Legend had it there was a pool where the angel of Lord would come and disturb the water. When that happened, it was a mad rush toward the water because the first one in would be healed. That must have been like Wal-Mart on Black Friday morning here in the U.S. People have died in the mad rush for the sales.

Man’s greed, no matter where it is displayed, and his desire for his life here be perfect is pathetic. We bring everyone around us down in our search to control our own destinies.


In Jerusalem, the Sabbath Police scrutinize Jesus. They looked at Him like Dirty Harry, “Go ahead,” they thought, “make our day.”


Unbeknownst to them, Jesus knew everything they are thinking. He walked up to a man, laying on a mat no less, and said to him, “do you want to be healed?” The man answered with the obvious, he had no one to help him rush to the water. This did not deter Jesus. Jesus did not simply ask the man to get up, but to take his bed and walk. The man immediately complied and was healed.


Well, this enraged the Sabbath Police. How dare this upstart violate God’s law that they policed. How dare this person do what only God could do on a day that was dedicated to God.


They had missed the point, as usual. God’s work is never done, the Sabbath was made for man, and not, man for the Sabbath. Additionally, God doesn’t need to stop working to know who He is and that He is worthy of worship. Sabbath keeping is for man, because it is man who forgets his maker.


What they would not recognize is the difference between themselves and Jesus. Jesus was more than a Rabbi; he was God.


Man sees ministry as work; and for him it may be that. It would depend on how he sees ministry. Is it God’s work or his? Is it God-enabled or man-enabled? The Sabbath is a need for man but not for God.


The “work” done on the Sabbath should be living as God calls us to live in His Kingdom, loving God and others, and taking a rest from loving ourselves.

Jesus got that, the Pharisees didn’t, do you?

See Ya Next Time



Read John 5;1-17; Matt 9:6-7; 12:2,10 ; Luke 5:24-25 6:2, 13:14Mark 2:24;3:4  


1. Why did Jesus say that he healed on the Sabbath?

2. Did He see man’s work and His work differently?

3. Why or why not?

4. What spin did the Pharisees put on Jesus work that made it look like He was not keeping God’s law?

5. How do we worship self instead of God as the Pharisees were doing here?

6. In what ways have you seen Church people do this?

7. What is the difference between work for and the worship of God?

8. If church people were living in God’s Kingdom, how would their behavior be different?

9. In what ways do we forget that God’s Kingdom is here and now?

10. In what practical ways can we live in God’s Kingdom now instead of the world?


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