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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Healing at the Pool of Bethesda -- John 5:1-15



          Jesus leaves Galilee and goes to Jerusalem for one of the required feasts. He purposely got to Jerusalem in time for the Sabbath. Jesus will perform one of seven miracles done on the Sabbath at the pool of Bethesda. Bethesda means "house of mercy" or "flowing water" which means living, moving water not stagnant water. A great number of disabled people would lie there watching for the healing waters. There were five covered colonnades surrounding the pool to shelter them from the elements. Five is the number of grace. Spiritually, we are covered by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. We must be covered by the grace of God if we are to be made spiritually whole. Jesus said we could do nothing without Him. Jesus will teach this in this healing of the invalid at Bethesda.

         At the pool of Bethesda, an angel would come from time to time and move the waters. The first one into the pool was healed. This poor man who had been an invalid for 38 years would try to reach the waters, but someone always got there before him, and he had no one to put him into the water. This poor man was hopeless and helpless.

        In this setting, Jesus has a miracle to perform and a lesson to teach. He has saved the nobleman's son from death. Now He will restore an invalid (crippled) to wellness and wholeness. The grace and mercy of God through Jesus will be at work. Jesus will illustrate that He is Lord over the Sabbath by doing this act of mercy on the Sabbath.

       Keep in mind that God had been silent and did no miracles for over 400 years. Now Jesus appears speaking the Word of the God and performing miracles. Jesus came to save and make all things "new." According to the Law, none of the descendants of the first high priest Aaron who had a defect could come near to the presence of God to make offerings to God. He must not go near the veil between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place in God's dwelling place and thus desecrate it. (see Leviticus 21:16-23) Jesus who is the presence of God on earth did the opposite. He found this poor crippled man, had compassion and extended the Lord's healing, mercy and grace to him. 
        Jesus wants the lame, blind, paralyzed, deaf and sick to be made whole in Him. Jesus who is God calls the lame, blind, paralyzed, deaf and sick to healing, restoration and wholeness. Jeremiah, Micah and Zephaniah prophesied that a day would come when God would call the lame and make them a remnant who will drive away the enemy. "Among them will be the blind and the lame." Jeremiah 31:8 (see also Micah 4: 6-7; Zephaniah 3:19; Isaiah 29:18) Jesus is the fulfillment of this.
        Spiritually, all of humanity is like this man -- crippled and lame because of sin. Our souls and spirits are crippled. It is only in Christ and the healing power of His blood, His Word and His Holy Spirit can we be made whole and walk in new, spiritual life. As this invalid man looked up from his mat and saw Jesus, we must look up from our fleshly, earthly ways and see Jesus.
      No doubt this poor invalid saw hope, love and compassion in Jesus's eyes. Even though this invalid didn't know who Jesus was yet, when He heard His powerful Word of authority, he listened and obeyed and was made whole. Jesus didn't lecture him. He didn't point out his sin. He didn't judge and condemn him. He didn't ask anyone to help him. He merely spoke His powerful Word and showed this hopeless one compassion and mercy. Jesus bent over at the cross to show us His and the Father's love, as He bent over this poor invalid with eyes of love and compassion. In the healing of the royal officer's son, the officer sought Jesus. But, here Jesus sought the invalid.
          John 5:6: 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?"  Jesus picked the person who was the worse case there to show His love, grace and healing power. In so doing, the others would also have hope in Jesus. Anyone would assume that this man wanted to be made well. This man had been trying to get into the healing waters for 38 years! But Jesus asks him this question. Jesus had mercy and compassion toward this invalid that He picked out of the crowd of the sick, but He must know that this man wants to be made whole. Jesus will not go against his will. We have to want Jesus's healing and restoration. Jesus must awaken a desire within him as He must in us.
          There are those who don't want to be made whole. Some use their sickness to get sympathy or attention. Others will remain in their addiction and even make excuses for it. Still others will stay in an abusive situation or in the darkness of sin instead of coming to Jesus for healing and restoration. We can stay in unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, condemnation and judgment and justify it rather than turn to Jesus and His ways. We have to walk away from these things and turn to the love of God in Christ and His transforming power. If we continue in these heart attitudes, the situation will only get worse. Jesus calls us to a higher calling far above these fleshly ways. His transformation is a process done progressively by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word (Jesus). What this invalid does with Jesus's Word will determine the outcome, just as what we do with Jesus's Word will determine our outcome.
         "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." John 5:7 This invalid was looking to man for help. No human can do what only Jesus can do. Jesus will show him that his help comes from the Lord! This man didn't ask Jesus to heal him. He didn't even know who Jesus is or that Jesus could heal him! Jesus did it through His love and grace. Jesus didn't tell this invalid to get into the water nor did Jesus carry him into the water. He merely spoke His Word of authority. "He sent His Word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction." Psalm 107:20
          Jesus's powerful anointed Word will give hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless. It gave this man the courage to rise up and walk anew. First this paralyzed man had to hear the Word of God, believe it and walk it out in his life. Believers today must do the same. This is a responsibility that all believers must understand. We must hear the Word, believe it and walk it out in our lives. This is how we become whole. We must wholly belong to Jesus.
          We can blame others for our problems or we can listen to the Word of Jesus and be healed. Jesus will deliver us from our sin and set us free to be all that He wants us to be -- whole and at peace.
          Jesus gives this invalid man a command. "Rise, take up your bed and walk." Jesus's Word of authority instilled faith and strength in the man. The man obeys Jesus's Word and is healed both spiritually and physically. Once he received Jesus, his sins were forgiven him. Jesus indicated this when He said to him the next day at the temple after revealing Himself to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." John 5:14 There is no life or blessing in sin. Sin brings consequences and not good ones. "The wages of sin is death."  This is why Jesus said this to this newly-restored man. He doesn't want him to hurt or be lamed again. Jesus knows that sin will bring him down and destroy him. This is the heart of Jesus and the Father. Jesus wasn't threatening him. He was warning him out of His love and concern.


           Jesus told this man to pick up his mat and walk so others would see the miracle. Jesus did it on the Sabbath knowing the religious leaders would question His work, and He would declare that their manmade restrictions are void! Since sin entered God's Holy Garden, the Godhead never ceases doing good and restoring. At Creation, God rested on the 7th day because all in the beginning was holy and in peace and harmony. Once that holiness and harmony was broken by sin, the Godhead labors continually to restore His creation to holiness and harmony once again. He can't do it against our will. If the Godhead ceased to work before this is accomplished, all would die spiritually and physically. Physically, the rivers must keep flowing; vegetation and fruit must keep growing; the sun and moon must continue to give their light; mankind must labor and children must be born. Spiritually, it is the same until the end of time. The river of the Holy Spirit and Word must keep doing their work; the fruit of the Spirit must keep growing; the Light of Jesus and the light of darkness will keep shining; spiritual children will be birthed and mankind will continue to labor for the Kingdom of God until all things are fulfilled in Christ and restored to perfection and holiness again. Then the Godhead will rest again based upon their finished work for all eternity. In the meantime, our Sabbath rest is in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Everyday is the Sabbath in Christ because He is Lord of the Sabbath. As the Godhead does not rest from doing good, neither should those who love and serve Him. Doing good honors the Lord of the Sabbath -- the very One in whom we have our rest and peace both here on earth and for all eternity. God's holy rest day was indeed made for mankind!!

             (Next week:  Attitude of the religious leaders)




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