This portion in chapter 7 of the Gospel of John has been a great challenge to my understanding.
22 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man.
23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?
There is a commingling of the Ten Commandments and the other Rules given by Moses. Jesus tells those Jews who tried to kill Him contextually thus in the same chapter:
19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?
It appears that Jesus was trying to dissuade the Jewish people who were trying to kill Him, that they ought not to kill, as killing would be breaking of a commandment of God.
But a few verses later he brings in the conflict arising between CIRCUMCISION and SABBATH.
My understanding is that Circumcision started with Abraham and definitely doesn’t find a part in the Ten Commandments; whereas keeping the Sabbath holy is a commandment of God.
Jesus brings in the conflict, between circumcision and the Sabbath, by saying that if the eighth day after the birth of a male child were to fall on a Sabbath day, you Jews circumcise the male child even on Sabbath, as you believe that the TRADITION of yore should not be broken. But by circumcising the child on the Sabbath, you are violating one of the Ten Commandments. Thereafter, Jesus Justifies circumcision on Sabbath by stating that if for the benefit of the child circumcision is carried out on the eighth day, only through an infringement of breaking the Sabbath, then DOING GOOD, like HEALING (making a person whole) on the Sabbath would not tantamount to breaking the Sabbath!
The underlying principle which Jesus said was: God is good and if any deed is done infringing a general law, such Good deed should not be seen as a deed having violated the general law.
How he got them!
It was not the Circumcision that Jesus was questioning but the tradition of circumcising only on the eighth day, come what may, though the eighth day fell on a Sabbath, which Jesus drew as a parallel to justify good deeds, like healing and making people whole.
Another way of looking at theses passages is that a General Law need not be strictly applied to every PARTICULAR situation. A child would have only one eighth day after his birth and if it were to fall on a Sabbath, why break the tradition? After all that work of circumcising was not the choice of the parents, assuming that the day of birth of a child would be beyond the choice of a parent. Therefore, in the PARTICULAR case of male children whose eighth day fell on Sabbath, the act of circumcising would not offend the General law of the Sabbath, but would act as an EXCEPTION to the observances of the Sabbath. Likewise, if Jesus were to heal on the Sabbath, such healing would also fall within the exception and would not attract the penalties for non observance of the Sabbath.
May 7, 2018