(John 5:16) So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him.
Jesus comes into the pool area, on purpose, but we do not really know that. God has a reason for everything, and this may be no different.
Did he pick out the man and the site because it represented how broken and abused the Jews and their religion were at the time?
Was the man singled out, like Judas, knowing that he would rat out the Savior after being healed?
The man was clearly a Jew, because the first place he goes after being healed is the temple. I suppose it is like being in shock after a car crash, you may not make the clearest decisions, but you go to the familiar place, in his case the temple.
Had he been put out and declared unclean because of his illness, and was now going to the temple to show them, hoping to be declared clean, and reestablished back into the community.
The crazy part of his return to the temple is that he carried his mat with him. That mat had been his close friend for many years, and he may not be thinking so straight.
Now to give him the benefit of the doubt I will use myself as an example. Working at the hardware store I am asked for help constantly. I listen to the customers descriptions to find out what they need from me (Jesus asked questions of others about the man). If I do not understand (the vague way the man answered Jesus makes me think that he did not understand either) I continue to ask questions until I see that I am not going to get any further (When the man responded, logically, but indirectly, to Jesus question about being well, Jesus changed tactics and ordered him to his feet). At that point I run with what I know. The problem with that is that the picture in my head may lead me to grab the objects at hand, because they are familiar, they make sense, but they have led me in the opposite direction of where I need to be.
If you did not know who healed you, or how, and you were a Jew, what might you do? Go to the temple. At this point what else does he have, family? I do not think so, for he said he had no one to put him in the water.
Back to the verse. “… because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath,..”
What did Jesus do? He came, he saw, he asked questions about the man, he healed the man, and he told him to take up his bedroll.
Carrying the bedroll around on the Sabbath was a bad thing. Jesus knew the law, he spoke it; everyone else knew that, and yet the man did it anyway. Why? At least he was obedient.
Exodus 20:10 (NIV) “but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.”
Jeremiah 17:21 (NIV) “This is what the LORD says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem.”
Deuteronomy 5:13 (NIV) “Six days you shall labor and do all your work,”
This passage is difficult, for we want to understand what was happening here.
It appears that Jesus broke his own laws. Fortunately for us he answers the ensuing questions shortly.
“..because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him.”
Again, what were the things?
He healed on the Sabbath, and that may have been perceived as work. It must have meant something else to the religious community.
Think about the cleansing process. Mark gives us a clue when he shows us the man coming to Jesus and asking him if he would make him clean. That responsibility fell upon the priesthood, and yet Jesus did it. Jesus pointed out how corrupt they were, and we may have seen a part of his anger over their corruption when he cleaned the temple of money changers and animal sellers.
But he did something else, he ordered the man to pick up his bed and walk.
The word in Greek, that was translated persecuted, is dioko, and means to pursue. By implication – to persecute.
They certainly intended to persecute him, but until then they began to follow him with the intent to overtake him. This is shown by the fact that they showed up everywhere he went, trying to trip him up, and catch him saying something that they could have him killed for.