If you have been reading the opening chapters of John, you have probably noticed that the location of each of Jesus’ miracles is far less significant that who is doing the work.
In John 2, Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding. In John 4, Jesus heals the son of a royal official. Now at the beginning of the 5th chapter of John, Jesus heals a man at the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem.
The pool is near the Sheep Gate, bears the Aramaic name “Bethesda” and is surrounded by five covered colonnades. It is a place where disabled people used to lie and hope to be healed by being dipped in the pool.
Jesus was attending an unidentified festival in Jerusalem when he encountered the man who had been an invalid for 38 years by the Bethesda Pool. Jesus asks the man: “Do you want to get well?”
The man recites the standard procedure for being healed requires someone to lower him into the pool while the water is being stirred. Then Jesus illustrates that it is the Healer that provides the cure and not the stirred water, when he orders the man to pick up his mat and walk.
When the former invalid encounters Jewish leaders, they criticize him for violating the law by carrying a mat on the Sabbath. You would think that if the former invalid was constantly at the Bethsaida Pool, they would have been amazed to see him walking. The Jewish leaders seem more preoccupied with the violation of the law than the healing of the man.
One of the most dangerous phrases uttered in a church is: “We’ve always done it that way.” You have to be careful that religious practice does not overrule the purpose of a righteous act. One of the key components of Christian worship is communion and yet there are a variety of ways to celebrate this sacred ritual.
The fact that Jesus healed the man without dipping him into the water reminds us that it is not the baptismal water that redeems a lost soul, but the power of a risen Savior. We baptize because we want to be obedient to Christ and follow his example (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22).
When I become too proud or arrogant, I turn to Matthew 23 and read what Jesus said to the Pharisees and the teachers of Jewish law. Am I heeding Christ’s instruction to focus on the “important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness”? (Matthew 23:23)
Read the 5th chapter of the Gospel of John.
You could also read Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22 and Matthew 23:1-39..
In preparation for the 21-minute period you’ll spend listening to God, meditate on the following ideas and concepts:
- Jesus was faithful in attending spiritual events
- Some people (like the invalid at the pool) are more preoccupied by routines
- Jesus sought the permission of the invalid man before healing him
- The religious leaders were more concerned about the laws of the Sabbath than the healing of the man
- Jesus reminds the man in their second encounter to “stop sinning.” (John 5:14)
Go to a place of solitude and just listen for 21 minutes. If you are struggling to be still and wait upon the Lord, then review the five meditation points noted above.
After you are done listening, pray for what God has revealed to you through the power of the Holy Spirit and what you learned from reading the 5th chapter of John.
Since one of our goals in the 21-day challenge is to reach out and spend time with people who don’t know Jesus Christ as Lord, you should pray for the people that you have met or will meet during this journey of faith.
What did I do on day #4 to ‘Be the Message’?
I recognized the limitations on my body. Having Parkinson’s disease is no picnic. There are some days I need to come home from work, lie down, take additional time to pray and listen to the Lord, and to take a nap.
I hope, like the story of the invalid at the Bethesda Pool, you realize that the Lord does the healing on this fifth day of the ‘Be the Message’ challenge.