TUESDAY, JUNE 20
SCRIPTURE: John 5
This is really an incredible chapter. It begins with an incredible story. It moves to an incredible indictment against humanity. (The religious leaders were angry that Jesus healed a man who had been handicapped for 38 years. Their anger was primarily because Jesus had the audacity to heal this man on the Sabbath.) And then the chapter moves to some incredible words that Jesus speaks about His Father and Himself.
As a result there is much we could and should delve into in this chapter. But I want to focus on the story in the first nine verses. There is much here we can learn here about Jesus, about us, and even about the church.
The story unfolds at the Pool of Bethseda. It seems an angel periodically visited that place. He would stir up the water in that pool and the first one in the pool at that point was miraculously healed of his illness/handicap.
That should bring up an important question. If the angel stirring up the water was sufficient to heal one person, why didn’t the angel continue stirring up the water until everyone there was healed? There was, after all, a multitude there. Now let me take that question to another level.
In our story, Jesus appears on the scene. Of all the people there that desperately needed healing, Jesus picked out one man. You can almost imagine Jesus walking around others who were in desperate need to get to this one man. Why didn’t Jesus just heal them all?
In part, I think this story gives us a pattern of ministry for the church. In our “democratic” society, the American church has historically taken a position of “if we can’t do something for everybody, we won’t do anything for anybody”. We have convinced ourselves it isn’t fair to everybody else if we do something extravagant for one person. The ultimate and ironic effect of this has been the American church has basically tied her own hands and done nothing for anybody.
I believe Jesus is demonstrating a different ministry model. I think that model is we should be willing to do for one what we would love to do for all if we had all the resources in the world. This is difficult for us because we have some notion that we have to treat everyone equally.
I struggle with that as well but our church is actually moving in the direction of this ministry model. We decided to build a house and give it away. That was quite an undertaking that effectively benefited only one person (and her family). OK. Our church benefited from that effort as well but you get what I mean.
I am not suggesting that we ignore the needs of the masses. But I would encourage you to think carefully about what it might look like to do for one what you would like to do for all.
Let me quickly point your attention to verses 6-7. Jesus asked the man what appears to be an unnecessary question. “Do you want to be healed?” Instead of a quick “Yes” the man went into a long description of why he was still the way he was. He was actually taking the blame for his not being healed and refusing the gift of healing from the Healer standing next to Him.
I leave you with this. We should always be ready to receive the gift of grace that Jesus offers regardless of what form that comes in: healing, salvation, calling to ministry, restoration, etc. We should never let our failures stand in the way of His future for us. We should never let our excuses exempt us from the Lord’s grace.