“After this, a Jewish festival took place, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. One man was there who had been sick for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well? ” “Sir,” the sick man answered, “I don’t have a man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.” “Get up,” Jesus told him, “pick up your mat and walk! ” Instantly the man got well, picked up his mat, and started to walk. Now that day was the Sabbath, so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “This is the Sabbath! It’s illegal for you to pick up your mat.” He replied, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” “Who is this man who told you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’ ? ” they asked. But the man who was cured did not know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. After this, Jesus found him in the temple complex and said to him, “See, you are well. Do not sin anymore, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.” The man went and reported to the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.” John 5:1, 5-15
After Jesus healed the royal official’s son with just a word, He headed for Jerusalem. There He went to the temple because there was festival. The temple had 8 gates, 2 of which were sheep gates (where animals could be led into the temple inconspicuousy-on the lower level) and beside one of them was a pool called Bethesda, which, according to the 1st century Hebrews, would be stirred by an angel of God occasionally. When this happened, the first person in the pool would be healed!
So Jesus come across a guy who had laid there for 38 yrs trying to get healed! 38 yrs is a LONG time-almost an entire generation, but since the man couldn’t walk and couldn’t work, this option for healing seemed best for him. So Jesus askes him, “do you want to be well?” Now I would think after laying there for 38 yrs, that the guy’s response would be, “of course I want to be well”, but oddly it was not! Instead, the guy states his reasons for NOT being well, including that when the water’s stirred, I have no one to put me in the pool. Jesus pointedly says, “get up, take up your mat and walk!” (vs 6) The man promptly responds, hops up and walks away for the first time in 38 years!
You’d think that everyone would be ecstatic for him, but not so– the religious leaders were mad! You see, these guys had a lot of rules to follow. God had given them the basic 10 commandments for living, one of which was to take a day off each week to worship and rest, but instead of enjoying a day to hang with God and the family, they made law upon law upon law defining exactly what work was, down to how many steps a person could take that day! They had made their religion about the Law instead of about the Lord! So, they get on this guy about carrying his mat of the sabbath. He states that he’s simply following the instructions of the Guy Who healed (which is what I would have done after lying there hopelessly lame for 38 yrs) but instead of rejoicing with him for being healed, they’re mad that he’s “working”!
The man later ID’s Jesus for them, as his Healer, which resulted in them beginning to harass Jesus (vs 16), but here’s the point . . . Often God does wonderful miraculous things for people. Sometimes He simply saves them and releases them from the bondages of sin and sometimes He heals and delivers and pours out unexpected, life-changing blessings on them. Lots of times, though, instead of simply rejoicing with them and congratulating them for what God has done, we, as the church, nitpick and criticize and deflate their proverbial balloon, usually in the name of “mature Christianity”!
How amazingly IMMATURE of us!
God, help us to worship You and not our traditions and opinions. Mostly, in Jesus’ Name, help us to NEVER put out each other’s fire for You!
Think about it!