Today’s Reading: John 5
Today we land on John 5, an up-close view to a phenomenon of miracle healing waters called the waters of Bethesda. When the waters moved, the first in the pool got healed. Here’s the first part of the story:
After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. (John 5:1-4)
Methodist preacher Halford Luccock made this profound observation about this chapter:
Here are a group of invalids depending on some external commotion for all their healing. They put all their trust in “bubbles.” Society is very much like a boiling spring. It has its periodic fashions and crazes. The surface of the pool of life is disturbed; it bubbles. And we say, “Lo, here! This is the thing that will put me on my feet. The man at the pool was saved not by the coming of an external disturbance but by the advent of a person, Jesus.
I love that. It wasn’t bubbles but Jesus who healed him. Here is the rest of the story:
When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man became well and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” (John 5:6-9, 14)
Jesus said three things to this man, and regarding those things I want to say something:
Do you wish to get well?
Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.
Do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.
First, Jesus said, “Do you wish to get well?” Seems an odd thing to say to a man who has been there for thirty-eight years, doesn’t it? I think people learn to survive and adjust with something they have had for thirty-eight years.
That’s why Jesus asked him the question, “Do you wish to get well?”
Notice this man’s answer: “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me” (verse 7). This man blamed other people for his lack of healing. Either someone did not help him in first, or the problem was that there were faster sick people. There is something dangerous to think that our lack of freedom, healing, or success is because others are not doing their jobs.
Second, Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” He was about to show this man that it wasn’t others but now he could do something about it. To get a command from Jesus and not obey is like one who says he believes in education and never goes to school. Destiny is not a matter of chance but choice. No one is born a winner or loser but a chooser.
Jesus told him essentially, “Choose to do what I tell you, and you will walk. Don’t make excuses; do something.” Like Corrie Ten Boom said, “Don’t bother to give God instructions; just report for duty.”
Third, Jesus went to the newly healed man after he was walking and said, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you” (verse 14).
I love the order of Jesus. Jesus touched this man physically and then dealt with him spiritually. To have a walking man whose heart is not right is useless. I would rather be lame and go to heaven than be a track star and go to hell.
These were the same words Jesus spoke to the woman caught in adultery: “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you? She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.’” (John 8:10-11).
No need to blame others when Jesus is here. No need to wait for others when Jesus gives you a choice for healing and walking. And finally, no need to live an old way when Jesus’ new way is so much better than waiting for bubbles.