Missing Out on the Messiah

Posted: February 1, 2015 in John
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John 5:1-15, “Missing Out on the Messiah”

Some things are meant to be camouflaged.  Hunters, soldiers, go to great lengths in their attempts to blend in with their surroundings.  Others try to be more obvious.  Construction workers, firefighters, all try to stand out to be seen.  Yet sometimes even the most obvious can be overlooked.  Sometimes even though someone is dressed as bright as possible, people still don’t see them…it’s as if they were camouflaged into the background.

Such seems to have been the case with Jesus and the man at the pool of Bethesda.  The man had been there for who-knows-how-long, and Jesus stands before him.  Yet even when Jesus does a miracle on his behalf, it’s as if the man still didn’t have a clue who Jesus was.  The man was so focused upon himself, it’s as if Jesus merely blended into the background.  Likewise with the Jews that confronted him that day.  A true work of God was done in their midst, and all they could think about was their man-centered traditions.  They missed the forest for the trees – they missed out on the Messiah in their midst.

John had just recounted another miracle of Jesus done elsewhere in the land, though that was received with far better results.  Jesus had travelled through the region of Samaria (where He brought the townspeople of Sychar to faith) and arrived back in the small town of Cana in Galilee.  While there, a nobleman of Capernaum came to him, begging that Jesus would heal his son who was on the verge of death.  Jesus understood this man was looking for a miracle, but also understood this man needed the greater miracle of salvation.  Jesus refused to go with the man back to Capernaum, but told him that his son was healed, the father just needed to leave and go back.  The man believed, and while on the way home, received confirmation that his son was healed.  His initial faith had blossomed into full salvation, not just for him, but for his whole household – and it was marvelous.

That would be quite the contrast with the situation back south in Jerusalem.  There, another miracle would take place, but instead of being amazed at Jesus and believing in Him as the Messiah, the miracle would simply fade into the background with people more focused upon themselves and their traditions.  They would miss out on Jesus, and miss the greatest miracle of all.  May God keep us from doing the same.

John 5:1–15
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.

  1. Time has passed since Jesus was in Galilee, though we do not know how much time.  Another “feast of the Jews” has come around, and Jesus again travels to Jerusalem.  Many scholars believe this feast to be another Passover, but John never specifically tells us which feast it is.  If it is Passover, then it would indicate that Jesus’ ministry was about 3.5 years long, considering the other feasts and Passovers specifically mentioned in the Gospels.
  2. Once in Jerusalem, we’re told about a particular pool by the “Sheep Gate.”  Technically the word “Gate” is not in the text, but is supplied by the translators (usually via italics), but this does seem to be the reference.  Nehemiah described the priests’ building the Sheep Gate way back in his account, as he oversaw the building of the wall of Jerusalem (after their return from Babylonian Captivity).  Tradition holds that they called it the “Sheep Gate” due to the sheep coming through that gate to be brought to the temple.  Not far from that gate (thus not far from the temple) was a particular pool by the name of Bethesda (or Bethzada, depending on your translation).  This was a mikveh – a Hebrew ceremonial pool to be used for ritual cleansing, and this particular pool was unique because John described it as being quite large, “having five porches.”  For years, scholars looked to a different part of the city, thinking John was wrong until archaeologists discovered evidence of a pool somewhat close to the temple grounds.  It was actually a site with two adjacent pools having four sides each, and thus evidence of 5 porches.  One pool seemed to be perhaps spring fed, and that allowed the other pool to have replenished water.
    1. Although this is nice to know, this isn’t just trivia; it’s historical fact.  It serves to emphasize once more that our faith is grounded in history.  Skeptics often look at the Bible as a storybook filled with myths, and unfortunately sometimes Christians do the same.  It’s so remote from us – we don’t know these places or this culture, and so we have a tendency of just making it all background and irrelevant.  Beloved, we have factual, historical, intellectual reasons to know that what the Bible tells us is true!  These are real events that happened at real places with real people.  And just as God really worked in the past with those people, He works in the present with people like us.

3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

  1. John here gives us the background of the pool.  Apparently it was well known as a place for healing.  The very name “Bethesda” could be translated “house of mercy,” and all kinds of people flocked there for medicinal purposes.  Some scholars have even suggested that the reason John mentions its location near the Sheep Gate was because of the reddish colors of the waters (due to minerals), suggesting the sheep blood from the nearby temple.  Seemingly, even the Romans were attracted to this site for healing, and they added their own medicinal baths to the area.
  2. It was so popular for healing that a particular legend developed as to the reason why.  There’s quite a bit of debate about this legend.  There’s no doubt the legend persisted among the people, but there is some doubt as to whether or not John actually wrote about it in his gospel.  The words do not begin appearing in the manuscript record until the 4th century, and it’s possible that a copyist’s explanatory note was placed into the text and was picked up in the copying process.  Because of the doubt, some Bible versions omit the words entirely (NIV & ESV).  That said, even if the text is original, it’s important to note that it does not teach a doctrine of people needed to look for angelic-touched pools of water for healing; it just explains the superstition that surrounded this particular pool at this particular time, and provides the necessary explanation for the man’s statement in verse 7 about wanting to get into the pool.
    1. There will be occasions that our Bible versions differ from one another due to differences in the manuscripts.  What’s important to remember is that even with all of the differences combined, there is absolutely zero change to any doctrine.  No historical manuscript family affirms anything other than the deity of Christ, the effect of the cross & resurrection, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, etc.  As long as you have a legitimate Christian Bible translation, you can trust the Bible you hold in your hand.  God the Holy Spirit not only gave us His word, but He preserved His word…and that in itself is a miracle.
  3. What all manuscripts of the text do affirm is who came to the pool: “a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed…”  It didn’t matter what the infirmity was, people thought they could be healed, so they came streaming to the site.  Legend or not, they did whatever they knew to do in order to get well.  Admittedly, sometimes God does use unusual methods.  Back in Genesis, when Jacob needed to free himself from the trickery and tasks of his father-in-law Laban, Jacob relied on some superstitious means to breed the kind of sheep that he wanted for his flocks (Gen 30).  Amazingly, God allowed him to be successful.  It doesn’t mean Jacob was scientific in the slightest; it just means that God was gracious as Jacob did the only thing he knew to do.  It still happens today.  Some people do get legitimately healed when they go a false teacher.  It doesn’t mean that God is honoring the teacher; God may just be honoring the faith of the individual, or simply showing His grace.  In this particular case, people were convinced that something happened, so they (pun intended) flocked to the sheep gate.
    1. Spiritually speaking, there’s a great illustration here.  Isn’t this just like the world?  There we are, all lost in our sin.  We have no hope – we may have sinned differently than someone else, but we’re all equally lost.  We were all lame, blind, and paralyzed, unable to save ourselves.  We turn to whatever we know to do, even though we’ve got no hope of it working…it’s all based on superstition.  They put their trust in medicine or nutrition, thinking that they can push off death indefinitely.  Or they put their trust in finances, thinking that they can buy their way out of trouble.  Or they (we) do all kinds of things, always missing the main point: we’re absolutely lost, and the only thing that can save us is a miracle from God Himself.  In the case of the man, that’s exactly what he experienced when Jesus came up to him.  Jesus approached him and offered him the very thing he could never gain for himself.  He offers us the same thing too.  As lost and invalid as we are, we need but one thing: Jesus.

5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.

  1. We’re not told the exact nature of the “infirmity” or illness of the man, although we can assume that it was some sort of paralysis or inability to walk.  The NIV/ESV both go ahead and translate this as “invalid,” but the word really just refers to sickness or weakness.  Either way, that was the result of whatever sickness that he had.  After all (as we learn in vs. 7), he was unable to get down to the pool before anyone else, no matter how long he lay at the water’s edge.
  2. How long had he been at the pool?  We don’t know.  He had been sick for “thirty-eight years,” though surely not at the pool for all of that time.  No doubt he had gotten sick at home, and at some point over time, eventually came to this pool in hopes to be healed.  Yet those hopes were dashed.  Day-in and day-out his sickness remained.
    1. 38 years is a long time to suffer!  Have you ever suffered long?  Have you ever lived with discouragement and disillusion?  Have you ever lost hope?  What do you do?  Look up!  Jesus is right before your eyes.  He was ready to help this man, and He is ready to help us.  Let Him bear your discouragements with you.  Receive the strength and power to endure that He offers.  He may not take away the source of suffering, but He does offer the grace you need to walk through it.  [Paul & the thorn]

6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

  1. Jesus saw him.  Can you imagine the scene?  In the midst of this throng of suffering, this sort of ancient hospital waiting room, Jesus comes walking in.  No one takes notice of Him, but He takes notice of everyone else.  Walking around the room, He comes to one particular man and watches him.  We’re not told how long Jesus looked at him, whether He spoke to the man immediately, or took some time to observe him, but we know this much: Jesus took notice of him.  The Son of God looked upon this man and saw Him.  There is grace in the gaze of God!  Jesus loves us enough to look upon us.
  2. Jesus knew about him.  Jesus did not see just the present facts of the man, but He knew all about that man’s “condition.”  Some have wondered if someone told Jesus about the man, or if He overheard people speaking about the man – but that’s not what John writes.  All John tells us is that Jesus saw him, and knew him.  That’s all that needs to be said.  Jesus is the Son of God.  Of course He knew the man’s condition because Jesus’ knowledge is infinite!  He knew everything about this man: when he first got sick, how long he had been lying there, what he did every day as he waited, even what he was thinking at that very moment.  Jesus knew this man inside and out, better than the man even knew himself.  Jesus knew his struggles & pains, just like He knows all of ours.
    1. Again, perhaps you’ve suffered – perhaps you understand how lost you are and how paralyzed you’ve been.  You might feel alone and insignificant, but you are not.  God sees you.  Jesus knows exactly who you are & what you’ve been through.  He even knows what you’ve done, in all of the various ways you’ve sinned against Him.  And He still loves you and offers to save you.  He loves you!  He reaches out to you!  This is the grace of our God & Savior!
  3. Jesus spoke to him.  Jesus didn’t stop with seeing and knowing; Jesus reached out to him as well. (Just as He does with us!  Just as He may be doing right now with some of you.)  Jesus spoke to the man, and asked him a crucial question: “Do you want to be made well?”  Was that what the man wanted/desired?  It may seem like an obvious answer, but it’s not quite that easy.  Did the man want a quick-fix – a feel-good moment, or did he want true healing?  Did the man really want whatever it took to be healed?  True healing would take more than a superstition about a pool, it would mean surrendering in faith to the Messiah.  Is this what the man wanted?  This man didn’t seem to be thinking through all of these things at the time, but he needed to.
    1. It’s still a good (and important) question.  Do you really want to be made well?  Do you really want healing & forgiveness?  Is that our true wish and desire, or are we really looking for something else?  Think about it in physical terms.  Many people wish to be physically healthy, but they aren’t willing to do what it takes to get there.  “I want a six-pack!”  Great!  Stop eating fried chicken, pizza, and soda seven days a week, and start exercising.  “Never mind…”  There’s a big difference between wanting the reward, and wanting to do whatever it necessary to get a reward.  It’s a similar mindset when it comes to the things of eternity. “I want to go to heaven when I die.”  Great!  Turn away from your sin, and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord & King, believing Him to be God.  Sadly, too many people will say “never mind.”  They want heaven, but they don’t want Jesus.  They want eternal life, but they aren’t willing to give up the things that lead to eternal death.  Jesus does offer forgiveness – true spiritual healing – real reconciliation with God.  But is that what you truly want?
    2. If not, why?  What could possibly be so important to you right now that it’s worth turning away from the grace of Jesus?

7 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.”

  1. Notice the man never answers Jesus’ question.  We assume that he wants to be healed, but he never comes out and says so.  How simple it would have been to say, “Yes.  Please heal me!”  And Jesus would have done it gladly, and the man would have known what it was like to walk in true faith.  Yet the man doesn’t make it simple.  Jesus offered a gift of grace that just needed to be acknowledged to be received, but the man was so focused upon himself that he couldn’t see it.  Instead, he made excuses as to why he hadn’t yet been healed.  There was “no man” to help him into the pool.  It’s so telling that his blame immediately goes to someone else!  It wasn’t “I am unable to walk to the pool” or “I cannot drag myself to the pool,” or simply, “Please help me!”  Instead, it was bitter & self-centered & everyone else’s fault as to why he suffered.  It was every human excuse as to his lack of healing, with no thought of turning to God to ask for help.  The ironic thing was that God was standing right in front of him.  The man was so focused upon himself that he never even looked up to realize it.
  2. Even though he offered excuses, it does seem that the man was truly alone.  No one helped him.  He had been there day after day, and not a single person looked upon him with mercy (though he was in the “house of mercy”).  No family was there to help – no friends were anywhere to be seen.  How sad is it that an infirm man cannot even get a bit of help to lower him into a pool when he is in the middle of Jerusalem – so close to the temple, no less?  No one had compassion?!  All were so selfish?!  This infirm man wasn’t the only man focused solely upon himself and his own sufferings; apparently so was everyone else around him as well.
    1. Obviously the pool wouldn’t help him, but love and compassion was still needed.  All those around had their religious reasons for being there, but none had enough compassion to help the man get into the water.  Sometimes the simplest act of compassion is enough to help break hardened hearts.
    2. The good news for this man (and for all of us) is that he DID have a Friend standing right in front of him.  He just didn’t realize it yet.

8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. … 

  1. The man never answered the question, but Jesus healed him anyway.  Jesus reached through to him and gave the man the grace he didn’t even know he needed.  That’s so often how salvation works!  Some people search and search for God, and finally find true grace in Jesus.  Others of us didn’t even realize we were lost until Jesus suddenly made it clear.  He reveals to us our condition & the offer of His grace, and we are immediately changed.  It wasn’t something we were looking for, but we are so grateful that Jesus was looking for us!
  2. The healing is remarkable in itself.  What Jesus commanded the man to do was impossible.  In fact, to the casual observer it would have been downright absurd.  If the man had been able to stand to his feet and walk, he would have gone to the pool by himself.  And if his inability to walk was the full extent of his problem, he wouldn’t have been at the pool in the first place.  If Jesus had been anyone else, His words would have been exceptionally cruel.  Yet with Jesus’ words came power.  What was impossible became possible through the word and will of Jesus Christ.
    1. When Jesus speaks, there is power!  God spoke and the world came into existence.  God willed it and the Red Sea parted.  Jesus spoke, and this man was healed.  There is power in the word and will of God!  This is true not just with physical miracles, but also with spiritual.  What else has God declared for those who trust Jesus?  He has declared us to be righteous.  Romans 5:1–2, "(1) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." . The very act of justification is one of declaration.  It is God deciding by His judicial will that based upon the sacrifice of Jesus for us, we are made righteous in His sight.  In other words, our sin had placed us in the center of God’s wrath.  Everything was wrong, and we deserved eternal punishment.  But because of what Jesus did, God has declared us to be at peace with Him.  We have been “justified by faith” – we have been made right in God’s sight, all through God’s gracious power and will.  He declared it to be so, and it is.  THAT is a powerful word!
    2. There’s another aspect of this beyond our salvation (as great as that is!): with God’s command comes God’s enabling.  Jesus told this man to rise, pick up his bed & walk, and that is exactly what this man was able to do.  When God wills for us to do something, then He gives us the grace and power to do it.  We see it in the acts of the apostles, when Peter and John gave a similar command for a different paralyzed man at the temple gate to get up and walk (Acts 3).  It wasn’t that Peter and John just up & decided to do that on their own; they were obviously moved by the will of God, being filled with the Holy Spirit.  What God willed them (and the man) to do, they were able to do.  What is it that God wills for US to do?  There may be times it seems that God asks us to do the impossible.  What is impossible with men is possible with God.  We cannot rely on our power to do such things; we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, trusting Him by faith. 
      1. That doesn’t just apply to the physically miraculous.  It seems absolutely impossible to forgive certain people.  They’ve hurt us too bad.  What’s impossible with men is possible with God.  He has commanded us to forgive, so we know He will give us the power to forgive.  It seems impossible to extend compassion to some people, but God commands us to love our neighbor.  We know that He will give us the enabling.  What is it that seems impossible to you?  Trust God.  His word and will make it possible.
  3. Note that, as with the nobleman in Cana, the command of Jesus required faith.  We’re never really told whether or not this particular man in Jerusalem came to full saving faith in Jesus.  The nobleman did…he and his whole house believed (4:53).  But even in his case, his faith started out small.  He first had to believe Jesus at His word when Jesus told him to go home because his son lived (4:50).  First, he had to believe the words of Jesus, and then he had to act upon what Jesus had said.  Likewise with the man at the pool of Bethesda.  Jesus told him to “rise.”  He hadn’t been able to “rise” for a long time!  He had been sick for almost 4 decades, and perhaps invalid for just as long.  How do you (today) tell a paralyzed man to get out of his wheelchair and walk?  What is that person supposed to think?  Yet that was precisely the scenario between Jesus and this man at the pool.  The man was faced with a choice: (1) believe the impossible and act upon it, or (2) do nothing and experience nothing.  He had experienced nothing for 38 years – what did he have to lose?  He chose to believe, and discovered that the impossible had been made possible.
    1. We have the choice whether or not to believe.  We have the choice whether or not to walk by faith.  Either Jesus is exactly who the Bible says that He is, or He’s a crock.  There’s only one way to find out: choose to trust Christ.
    2. Once you trust, you need to act.  There is no faith without action.  It wasn’t enough for the man to intellectually believe he had been healed.  If he never made the effort to get up, he would never experience anything – no matter what he believed in his head.  He needed to act upon the command of Jesus to rise, pick up his bed and walk.  We need to act.  We need to rise.
      1. Some of you have been waiting a long time to act upon your belief.  Some waiting.  Rise up!  Act upon what you truly believe, and demonstrate your belief.

…And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”

  1. It was an incredible miracle!  It was amazing & everyone ought to have been rejoicing.  There was only one wrinkle: the day.  It was “the Sabbath,” and that was about be the source of all kinds of problems, and sets the stage for the rest of the chapter.  Here the man is, following the command of Jesus, and he’s stopped by legalists who object to his carrying his bedroll.
  2. Keep in mind that the Sabbath day was definitely to be honored, and the Jews were required by law to do so.  This is the 4th Commandment, and Israel had been often guilty of breaking it in the past.  It was definitely a command, but it didn’t have anything to do with legalism.  The Sabbath was given so that the people could honor the Lord God and find their rest in Him.  God had given an example of resting on the seventh day (the Sabbath), so the Hebrew people were to do the same as an outward symbol of their national covenant with God – and ultimately to point them to the fulfilled rest they would have in the Messiah.  Yet all of this got lost in their rabbinical tradition.  They were supposed to rest from work, but this became interpreted to refrain from doing all kinds of activity, including transporting objects in public.  Jeremiah 17:21-22 did prohibit carrying a burden on the Sabbath day, but the whole context of God’s word through Jeremiah was to honor the Lord God and trust Him.  The man by the pool of Bethesda had not been carrying wares to sell in the street, nor construction materials for a building project.  One could even make the argument that the pool had been his private domain for some time, and now he was just going home to his real private domain.  In any case, he wasn’t carrying a large mattress & box-spring; he was carrying a bed-roll, likely with no more weight than the tunic he & others wore.  In addition, it was Jesus who told him to carry it.  Obviously the Jews did not know this at first (nor did they believe that Jesus is God), but there was hardly any better way to honor God than by believing and obeying the words of His Son!
  3. The legalists took something joyous and turned it into a controversy, which is what legalists always do.  This is something they should have praised God for.  Surely they recognized the man from the pool & knew that he had been healed.  The man had been there for a long time, and it was probably common knowledge that he had suffered for decades.  No doubt the man would have looked like he had been lying on the ground for a long time, but now had strength enough in his legs to be walking around.  He was literally a walking miracle.  Yet the Jewish authorities completely overlooked his healing to focus on their manmade traditions and legalistic rules.
    1. How careful we need to be not to let our traditions and culture not trump the work and grace of God!  Just because someone isn’t doing it our way, or they have a slightly different interpretation of a non-essential doctrine doesn’t give us permission to come down on them like a ton of bricks & declare them to be a heretic or a bad-Christian.  We ought to be able to rejoice in the work of God wherever it is seen, and no matter who it is that demonstrates it.  Not only do we rob someone else of their joy in the Lord, but we rob ourselves from the opportunity too.

11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ” 12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.

  1. Interestingly, the man’s response to the legalists wasn’t that much different than his initial response to Jesus: he immediately finds someone else to blame.  They confront him on potential law-breaking (false though it was), and he immediately tries to shift the focus off of himself.  “It’s not my fault!  I don’t have someone to put me in the water… I didn’t pick up the mat because I wanted to, but because someone told me to…”  To be sure, it’s the truth, but it’s still an excuse.  He doesn’t even give God the glory for his healing, but treats his healing as an afterthought.  In fact, he gave so little regard to his healing that he didn’t even know Jesus’ name.  Think about it: what does it say about your attitude if you don’t even stick around long enough to find out the name of the Man who healed you?  Did he even bother to thank Jesus?  This man received enough faith to be healed, but he didn’t seem to want much more than that.  He wanted a miracle, but not the Messiah.
  2. Of course the legalists weren’t any better.  If they had earlier missed the fact that this man had received a miraculous healing, then he just told them.  Yet that didn’t stop their line of questioning.  They immediately asked who it was that told the man to pick up his bed.  They did NOT ask, “Who healed you?”  They basically asked, “Who told you it was OK to violate our Sabbath tradition?”  They didn’t care about the miracle; they were concerned only about their rules.
    1. Again, legalism causes us to miss out on grace.  Legalism causes us to miss out on the wonderful works of God.  We get so obsessed with the minor things, and we end up missing the forest for the trees.
  3. As for Jesus, He was nowhere to be seen.  He “had withdrawn.”  He obviously knew what He was doing.  It was not lost on Him that He healed the man on a Sabbath day, nor was He taken by surprise that the legalists objected to the man.  Jesus was going to use their legalism as an opportunity to testify of Himself and the grace of God, but it was going to be done in His way & His timing.  As John’s gospel will demonstrate often, Jesus was fully in control of His surroundings at all times.

14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”

  1. Jesus had withdrawn, but He hadn’t totally disappeared.  The formerly invalid man had looked around for Jesus, but it was Jesus who found him.  Jesus had known where he was the entire time, and when the time was right, He approached the man once more to address the bigger issue at hand: his sin.
  2. Remember the first question Jesus had asked the man: “Do you want to be made well?”  Apparently Jesus had known something about the man’s heart that might cause him not to truly want healing.  Sure, he wanted a miracle, but did he really want to be reconciled to God?  Did he really want the peace of God, and all that entailed?  Or was he still in love with his sin?  Although sickness isn’t always directly tied to sin (as in a form of punishment), occasionally it is the direct consequence of sin.  Sexually transmitted diseases are almost always the result of fornication of some sort.  Other times people are injured when they’re engaged in some activity they aren’t supposed to be doing.  Some sins truly do lead to death.  Of course beyond that, ALL sickness eventually can be traced back to sin.  If Adam and Eve hadn’t sinned in the Garden of Eden, no sickness would have entered the world.  And that’s what Jesus came to rectify & save us from.  As for the man, Jesus had already delivered him from one disease, but if the man wanted to remain free and safe in a relationship with God, then he needed to stop his sinning.
  3. Jesus offers us grace and salvation – praise God!  He gives us forgiveness and eternal life, and there is not a single thing we can do to earn it ourselves.  But that doesn’t mean that He wants us to stay the same.  We don’t have to change our lives to come to Jesus; but our lives do change when we come to Jesus.  The invitation is “Come as you are,” but not “stay as you were.”  God calls us to repent.  He calls us to turn away from our sins, change the way we think about them, change the way we act upon them, and turn completely to faith in Christ.  “But that’s impossible!”  Remember what God does with the impossible. J  With God’s will comes God’s enabling.  God calls us to repent through Jesus Christ, and that is exactly what He enables us to do.  It doesn’t mean that once we come to faith in Jesus that we live every single day perfectly without sin.  (We’re human, after all!)  It means that once we come to faith in Christ, our lives change, and God helps us to live differently than we did before.  It means that we’re out of excuses.  We have no basis to say, “That’s just the way I am – I’ll never change.”  Baloney.  God already changed you when you put your faith in Jesus.  You CAN change because God has given you the power to change.  What we might lack is the will to do so.

15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

  1. We’re not told anything more about this man after this point, but it seems he lacked the real will to change.  What did he do after Jesus told him to repent?  He reported Jesus to the authorities.  He turned in the One who healed his physical disease, and who offered to give him everlasting peace with God.  Where was his faith?  Where was his love for God?  Jesus had reached out to him with mercy, but there was no gratefulness shown in response.  He received his miracle, and apparently that was all he wanted.  He missed out on what was far better: abundant life now, and eternal life in the future.

It was such a strange end to what should have been a remarkable day!  Here the man was, healed and walking around after 38 years of suffering.  He was no longer lying on a dusty mat waiting on a superstition at the side of a pool; he had been approached by the Lord Jesus Christ and given the opportunity to be healed.  The man hadn’t even realized the grace that was being offered to him when Jesus declared him healed and empowered him to rise and walk.

At that point everyone should have been leaping for joy!  Instead, there was legalism and a round of passing-the-blame.  Everyone missed out on the grace of God that had been displayed that day.  From the super-religious to the lost & dying, the miracle of God went virtually unnoticed.  Jesus was right in their midst, and (no matter what their background was) they were all too blind to see.

God help us be different!  May God help us not be blind to the grace that is offered us in Jesus, nor to the work that He is doing in others.  May He help us look up and see the Lord Jesus right in front of us, and have the faith to rise up to act in obedience to His command.

We miss out on Jesus when we don’t realize how lost we are without Him.  We miss out on Jesus when we refuse to give up our excuses and give ourselves over to His grace.  We miss out on Jesus when we decide we’d rather have our current situation rather than the true healing and peace He offers.  We miss out on Jesus when we don’t act upon His command in faith.  We miss out on Jesus when we impose our rules upon others, or allow others to steal our joy, or especially when we refuse to repent of our sins of the past (and present).

Don’t miss out on Jesus!  He calls us to something far greater – far grander!  He has seen us where we are, understands how lost we’ve been, and offers us the grace to rise above all of that.  No longer do we need to live in the dust; we can walk as children of the living God.


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