Session 5

Follow Jesus, not a bunch of rules

From John: A 21-Day Devotional

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John 5

Religious leaders get angry when Jesus heals a lame man on the day of rest. They get even angrier when Jesus claims to be God’s Son.

For most of John 5, Jesus speaks to the Jews who criticize Him for healing the man at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath. The Jews had rules upon rules about what good Jewish people could and could not do. One of those rules prohibited any kind of work on the Sabbath. Healing was work and, according to their rules, should be saved for the other six days of the week. Allow the absurdity of that to sink in. The religious Jews were essentially saying, “How dare you perform a miraculous healing in defiance of the Jewish law! How dare you change this man’s life on the Sabbath! How dare you end his 38 years of suffering! That can surely wait until tomorrow.”

Jesus continues to call them out in John 5:39–40, where He points out their diligent study of the Scriptures but their blatant disregard for believing them. The whole Bible is about Jesus. Even the Old Testament tells us about God’s plan to send His Son to save us. The Jews knew those Scriptures well, but failed to recognize Jesus as their fulfillment.

“Very truly I tell you whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). 

If we aren’t careful, we, too, can turn our relationship with Jesus into a bunch of rules we follow, a bunch of words we read, and a bunch of songs we sing. By doing so, we can completely miss Jesus and the miracles He is doing all around us.

• What can you learn about Jesus from this chapter?
• How has Jesus performed healing in your life?
• Why is it our tendency to make our relationship with Jesus a checklist of good behaviors? What changes can you make today to break that cycle?

5 of 21

Devotionals From This Study

to Discover More

Session 1

What if God was one of us?

Jesus was with God when the world was created. He left heaven and entered the earth the way we did — through childbirth. Jesus was human,...

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Session 2

Maybe God is waiting on you

Jesus begins His ministry by turning water into wine at a wedding. A short time later, Jesus goes to Jerusalem for the Passover. When He ...

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Session 3

Are you afraid of the dark?

Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader, visits Jesus at night to avoid being seen. Jesus tells Nicodemus that only those who believe in Him...

Read Devotional

Session 4

There’s only one way to heal your pain

Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well and asks her for a drink. Awed by what Jesus had to say, the woman brought everyone from town to ...

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Session 5

Follow Jesus, not a bunch of rules

Religious leaders get angry when Jesus heals a lame man on the day of rest. They get even angrier when Jesus claims to be God’s Son. For...

Read Devotional

Session 6

Do you have everything you need?

Jesus feeds 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, walks on water across stormy seas in the middle of the night, and follow...

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Session 7

What to do when friendship hurts

As Jesus becomes more well-known, everyone has an opinion about what He should do next. His brothers ridiculed Him, a crowd calls Him dem...

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Session 8

Who you know matters more than what you know

When religious leaders bring an adulterous woman to Jesus for judgment, it becomes a lesson in not judging others. Jesus goes on to expla...

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Session 9

What has Jesus done for you?

Jesus meets a blind man and heals him with a combination of dirt, spit, and the Holy Spirit. When the man’s neighbors learn about his hea...

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Session 10

Why working harder doesn’t make you happier

Jesus compares Himself to a good shepherd who feeds and cares for His sheep. Tired of Jesus’ metaphors, religious leaders corner Jesus at...

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Session 11

Jesus, where are you?

Jesus’ friend Lazarus falls ill, but by the time Jesus reaches Lazarus’ house, it’s too late. Jesus weeps for His friend then raises Laza...

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Session 12

Would you give it all?

Mary washes Jesus’ feet with perfume. The next day, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey as crowds praise Him. Jesus explains why He’s ...

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Session 13

This is what forgiveness looks like

Jesus washes His disciples’ feet, and they share one last meal together. Jesus warns Peter about the separation to come, but Peter doesn’...

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Session 14

How to show Jesus you love Him

Jesus gives final instructions to His friends, explaining what they should do when He’s gone and tipping them off about the Counselor who...

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Session 15

Does your life need some pruning?

Continuing His parting words to His friends, Jesus explains that the way to stay connected to God is by following His example. He also wa...

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Session 16

Who is the Holy Spirit?

Jesus teaches His friends about the Holy Spirit and His role in their lives. He also teaches them the power of praying in His name. In t...

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Session 17

Who do you pray for?

Before heading to His death, Jesus stops and prays for Himself, His friends, and all of us who would believe in Him in the future. If yo...

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Session 18

Where do you turn when everything goes wrong?

Religious leaders arrest Jesus and take Him to the high priest for questioning. Peter follows behind and denies knowing Jesus. After hold...

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Session 19

Jesus did what we could not

Jesus is flogged and crucified. He dies on a cross and is buried in a nearby tomb. Right before Jesus took His last breath, He spoke the...

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Session 20

You can start over

Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ followers, goes to His tomb only to find that He’s not there! Jesus appears to Mary and several others, ful...

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Session 21

You can come back from that

Jesus appears one more time to His disciples while they are fishing. Jesus reassures Peter and encourages His disciples to always follow ...

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