Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Waiting to Bathe at Bethesda

Read John 5

We have arrived at chapter 5.  It’s been a circuitous route in some regards.  We Jumped ahead to sing Hosanna and to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ a little bit more than we do most Sundays.

John started his account in the beginning and moved quickly to how the Creator and Savior of the world went unrecognized by that same world.

John then has his brief Christmas story.   And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John the apostle wrote how John the Baptist explained that he was neither Elijah nor the Christ, but that the Christ was coming.  When that day came, we remember the words:  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Jesus began calling disciples and then performed his first miracle in Cana of Galilee and went from mobilization to ministry in that instant.

Jesus moved on to Jerusalem and was not pleased how his Father’s house had been treated.  While Jesus was in Jerusalem, a Pharisee came to see Jesus at night.  We benefit by this discourse on entering into and living in the Kingdom of God.

In the course of their discussion, we also received the gospel in miniature.  Next we see John noting how he must become less and the ministry of the Christ continue to grow. 

Jesus would return to Galilee and was compelled to go through Samaria instead of around it. He had an interesting one-on-one encounter with a woman who came to Jacob’s well about noon.  From this we see for the first time the words or references to living water and the first-person profession by Jesus that he was the Christ.  The woman was changed and so were many other lives.

Jesus had news for his disciples too.  His sustenance was to do what his Father sent him to do and finish the work he was given. 

Jesus made it back to Galilee where we read of his second miracle and the faith of a man who took Jesus at his word.

This brings us to chapter 5.  Jesus came back to Jerusalem.  We are not told if he checked to see if the money changers learned their lesson or not.  We find Jesus near the Sheep Gate and a pool named Bethesda.

This isn’t just a farm pond near one of the city gates.  It is surrounded by five colonnades.  Imagine a pool with five covered walkways around it.  The text said that is was surrounded, so maybe these covered colonnades make a pentagon.  Perhaps the walkways were curved to resemble a circle.

Why is any of this important?  Someone went to a lot of trouble to dress this place up.

Why?  When the water stirred at this pool, the first to get in might get healed.  You can imagine that many with infirmities gathered here.

One such man had been an invalid for 38 years.  He was probably paralyzed and was brought here daily to rest on his mat hoping for his chance.

Jesus saw him and learned of his long-standing infirmity, and asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

You might think that his answer would have been “Yes!  Absolutely!”  Instead the man revealed his hopelessness.

When the water stirs, there is nobody to help me get to the water.  Somebody always gets there first.  In one regard we see some hope in the man.  Evidently, he is here day after day.  Evidently, he sits there hopelessly day after day.

Jesus cuts to the quick.  “Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.”

He did.  He was cured.  After 38 years, he was cured.  So, he walked away with his mat in hand.  Imagine how great that must have felt, then he got flagged by the Pharisees or some of the other religious leaders.

It was the Sabbath and he was walking with his mat.  That’s 15 yards and loss of down right there.

But the newly healed man was having done of this.  He said the man that healed me told me to pick up my mat and hit the road.  That’s what I did.

The leaders wanted to know who this man was.  The man walking with his mat on the Sabbath didn’t catch his name, but he was surely doing what he was told.  That was a sore spot for the religious leaders.

Later on, the man saw Jesus at the temple.  Jesus told him that now that he was well, to stop sinning.  You don’t want to give up this miraculous gift by living a life of sin. 

What did the man do?  He went and told the religious leaders that the man who healed him was Jesus.  From this point forward, we see parallel tracks of Jesus and his teaching and miracles side by side with a religious hierarchy that began to plan on getting rid of Jesus.

If they can do this by discrediting him, so much the better; but the divine plan that would cause Jesus to shed his blood for our sins would rely upon the human nature of those who wanted to be rid of Jesus.  We will see that come to a head in about 6 chapters.

Here are some points to think on. 

Do we ever just go though the motions, saying our prayers, making our tithe, singing the songs on the bulletin?

What would we do if having prayed for our cancer to be gone, we heard the voice of Jesus asking if we wanted to be healed?  I hope that we would all cry out, “Yes!  Absolutely!”

Of course, we would, wouldn’t we?  Unless we had grown so accustomed to asking and not believing we will get an answer. 

Let us never become complacent in our petitions to God.  Let’s ask and believe. Ask and do not doubt.

We do not see Jesus requiring a sign of faith from this man, at least not at first.  The man who came from Capernaum had some strong faith, but his man at the pool seems to be singing:  Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me.

But he is there at the pool nonetheless. He doesn’t seem to have a lot of hope or at least we don’t see it, but he is there.  He still came to that pool day after day and year after year. 

How easy would it have been to have just stayed home and crawled up in a corner until he died and was no longer a burden to his family?  Yet after 38 years of infirmity, Jesus found him at the pool.

And when the Lord gives us instruction, let us be obedient.  Let’s do what he tells us to do, even if it gets some important people upset.

The Lord has commanded it.  I’m doing it. I’m not throwing penalty flags at those who are not.  My focus right now is doing what the Lord told me to do.

Realize that one day soon, the Lord will reveal to us that we are to open our doors and welcome all to come worship together again.

Some will be critical.  Some will cast hateful words our way.  Some will call us careless and heartless for not hiding in our homes for another 3 years.  Some will say we waited too long.

In the meantime, we keep doing what we know to do.

When the Lord directs, we will obey with what he directs.

I have talked before about each of you using a sound mind as you decide when and where to resume certain activities. 

But when the Lord calls you to stand up, pick up your mat and walk, and do what you were made to do, do not hesitate.  Do not let others or fear interfere with what the Lord is leading you to do and the sound mind that you use to accomplish his purpose.

When the Lord asks: Do you want to be healed? always be ready to answer in the affirmative and be ready to go forth doing his will.


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