“Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” ~John 5:8 (NLT)
Nothing in God’s Word should go unnoticed but ya gotta agree on this one point…God likes to hide stuff in His word. I think He designed it that way because He wants us to dig into it beyond the obvious. Such is the case when we get to the 5th chapter of John’s Gospel. Many of us read of the cure that takes place at the pool of Bethesda, then we get to those wacky Pharisees with their charges against Jesus, “He violates The Sabbath!! Let us pick up stones and throw them at this blasphemer!!” and we think the sermon illustration should be reflecting that our God is always at work even on His day of rest and anyone who is a Pharisee about it is just plain…wacky.
But that keeps this story one dimensional doesn’t it? Now in some Bibles this chapter is titled “The Healing at the Pool on the Sabbath” but let’s change that this morning shall we and see what we can come up with.Hmmmm….ah, I got it. How about we call it, “When Jesus Steps into Your Story”? Yeah, that’s better. So, it starts like this, “On the corner of “Woe Is Me” and “It’s Their Fault”, is a pool that bubbles every so often. When it does a great crowd of people rush into it and think that the bubbling water is gonna cure them of their ill. And in their mad dash to save themselves there this dude still laying there struggling to get into the water. The water stops bubbling and everyone gets out…and leaves this poor guy behind. Then from outta nowhere comes Jesus Christ.”
Now in Scripture we read this very differently. The pool at Bethesda is surrounded by five porches and is by the Sheep Gate. In the 3rd chapter of Nehemiah we see that this gate was rebuilt by the High Priest, Eliashib, and is very significant to the story. First, the name of the High Priest who rebuilt this gate, Eliashib, means “God Restores”. Second, we see that the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (and High Priest) makes an appearance at that gate to man that doesn’t know who He is. The Sheep Gate was used to bring lambs to The Temple for the traditional offering but now Jesus is on the scene to show us that He IS The Gate through which a man can find salvation.
So Jesus approaches this man and asks him, “Do you wish to get well” to which the man replies with the calamity of his circumstance “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” and not with a simple “YES”. This is so like us. When Jesus steps into our stories we begin our conversation with Him by letting a barrage of “Woe is ME’s” and “It’s Their Fault’s” fly outta our mouths. We can be unknowingly right by something significant and at the ready to make a divine change and all we can see is that everyone else bet us to the punch and we got left behind.
But isn’t true that The Great Shepherd came for that one lost lamb? Isn’t true that He already knows the calamity of our circumstances and has shown up for such a time as this? If you’ve said yes to these questions, then be assured that when Jesus steps into your story all that should matter is doing what He says to do, “Pick up your mat, and walk” Walk in the newness of life that Jesus brings you and be mindful of what he told the man that was once hanging out, poolside, by the gate, on the corner of “Woe Is Me”and “It’s Their Fault”, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and serves on the Deacon Board at Trinity Alliance Church in Cologne NJ
The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 36; Proverbs 6
Daily Quote: “The trouble is that the whole “Accept Christ” attitude is likely to be wrong. It shows Christ applying to us rather than us to Him. It makes Him stand hat-in-hand awaiting our verdict on Him, instead of our kneeling with troubled hearts awaiting His verdict on us.”—A.W. Tozer
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you. ~Isaiah 54:10