Tuesday, February 14, 2012

John 5:1-9

Today’s passage is full of application to our lives! Jesus had gone up to Jerusalem for a feast. He must have entered through the Sheep Gate, where sacrifices were brought into Jerusalem, and where the pool of Bethesda was. Bethesda means house of mercy. This pool was considered a place of healing, and around it lay those who were disabled in some way:

Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:3-6)

While there were many there, Jesus focused on one man in particular, a man who had been an invalid for 38 years! What a question Jesus asks him! “Do you want to get well?” Why would He ask this? The reality is that many of us are more comfortable in our current conditions, and would truly rather continue to wallow in them than actually leave them! We may complain about the dysfunction in our family, but the patterns are ones we know intimately, and we are all good at playing our parts. It’s easier to stay in these roles than to seek change. Some will say, “I’ve always had a temper - it’s just who I am,” or “Everyone in my family is an alcoholic - it’s in my genes.” “All wives tell white lies to their husbands - it’s what we do!” “All men play around!” “I was born this way!”

These are not the attitudes of people who want to be made whole! And truly, if it were up to us to change ourselves by our own efforts, through keeping some religious rituals, or through sheer strength of will, we would remain invalids our entire lives. But the One who was asking here in this passage, has the power to change lives from the inside out. Indeed, the invalid at Bethesda offers an excuse:

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” (vs. 7)

Jon Courson points out that it appears that there was a competition here. First one in the pool gets healed! He writes “That’s what the law, religion, and man’s regulations always say. 'Be the first, Try harder. Fight your way to the top. God helps those who help themselves.' ” (Courson, P. 472) In this invalid’s mind, if he wanted to be well, he had to get himself down there first, and it was clearly futile! There was no way he could meet the expectation! And the same is true when we attempt to keep the Law or meet religious requirements set by men. No wonder so many sit in frustration and feel completely impotent and hopeless!

But Jesus was able to bring resurrection power to this man’s lifeless legs.

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (vs. 8-9)

Quit trying to change in your own strength. You cannot change your marriage by positive thinking. You will not give up alcohol without divine intervention! You will never be able to take control of your temper until you lay it at Jesus’ feet and ask Him to change you! “Do you want to get well?” Do you?


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