John 5:1-17 Following Instructions

I want to start off by apologizing to you all. I have been trying to write this for three days now. I had grandchildren spending the last two nights with me and am exhausted by the time I get them to sleep. All I want is sleep myself. Last night I actually caught myself waking up while reading them their story. Needless to say, I have missed a few days. Please bear with me over the first part of the summer, as my grandkids will be with me the first part of the week every week for a few weeks. I LOVE having them and spending time with them is important too. I’m just trying to find my balance between work, kids, husband, and writing. God is ALWAYS a part of that balance and I think I have been short changing Him lately. Please forgive me Father.

Do I want to be healed? YES! Tell me how!

Today we are with Jesus in Jerusalem again. We are not told what festival He was there for, but it was taking place in the temple on the Sabbath. Jesus is not in the temple teaching today but walking about the grounds instead. He stops by the Sheep Gate by the pool called Bethesda.

I’m curious why Jesus is walking about. Did He intentionally set out to find this man? What about the rest of the people there by the pool? Did He heal any of the rest of them? What was it about this one man that got Jesus’ attention?

I was reading a book a while back and, again, I can’t remember the name. I tried searching my Kindle for it but can’t find it. I need to start making “book reports” on books I find especially interesting; at least noting the name, subject matter, and author. Anyway, in this work of fiction the main character knew the man in our story personally. I was thinking the main character was Lazarus, but I could be mistaken. In the story the man Jesus heals had wronged the main character by stealing some of his land and then had an accident that left him paralyzed. The main character in the story met and was changed by Jesus but he still harbored unforgiveness in his heart towards the man in today’s reading. The story’s main character had to work through his unforgiveness and when he was ready he asked Jesus to accompany him to the pool where he knew the man had spent the last thirty-nine years. He recognized that he needed Jesus forgiveness and he didn’t earn it any more than this man should have to earn his. Long story short, I wonder if something like this might be what brought Jesus to the pool that day.

The man Jesus healed that day had been in his present condition for thirty-nine years! During those years he had to sit helplessly by as he witnessed others being healed. He did his best to reach the water when it was “troubled” and healing was being offered, but he always failed. He didn’t have anyone to help him either. I wonder if he was at the pool continuously or if he was brought back and forth each day. If he was brought I would expect someone to be able to help him into the pool. So this lack of assistance leads me to believe his whole life was lived at the pool waiting.

Proverbs 13:12 tells us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” I can’t imagine how many times his hopes had been raised and then dashed, yet he didn’t give up. He stayed by the pool. Did he stay out of hope though, or because of no other alternatives? I can feel his heart break a little more each time he started for the water and missed out yet again. But today was going to be different. Now he would receive the second half of the Proverb; “But desire fulfilled is the tree of life.”

Jesus offered this man real hope. He didn’t stand in the middle of the courtyard and say, “The first one here gets their needs met.” Instead He walked right up to the man and personally spoke to him. He asked him if he wanted to be healed. He listened to his story. Then He offered him help. REAL help.

When Jesus told the man to pick up his bed and walk, the man did EXACTLY as he was told. He picked up his bed and he carried it around all day! Was he afraid if he put it down that he would lose the gift of healing Jesus gave him? He was so careful to follow Jesus’ instructions to the letter that he was willing to “break the law.” He carried his bed even after he was caught by the temple officials. “That man told me to and by George that’s what I’m going to do!”

This newly whole man didn’t even know for sure who it was that had healed him. At the time, he didn’t care. But after the officials confronted him he would find out. Once he knew he also willingly shared that knowledge with the officials.

Jesus gave our man another set of instructions too. He told him to “Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5:14). I believe he tried to follow that command just as faithfully. Was his returning to the officials a sin? Jesus didn’t tell him not to tell anyone. But his disclosure gave the Jews another reason to add to their ever increasing list of “charges” against Jesus. That too though was part of God’s plan, so it probably wasn’t a sin for our man.

Father God, I TRY to follow instructions faithfully but I fall short more than I succeed. I’m SO glad that You offer me forgiveness and don’t let “something worse” happen to me. I know I deserve MANY worse things. Thank You for Your gifts of mercy and grace! I would be forever lost without them.

Lord Jesus, my husband has been suffering for MANY years! I KNOW he would love to hear You ask him the same question You asked the man at the pool. He too would jump at the chance! Forgive me for immediately thinking about how such a change would impact my life. I want to see You work in his life, no matter how it complicates or changes mine. Please keep me out of the way of whatever You want to do in his life. If You are working in his life through his current condition, keep me from interfering in Your work there too. Let me be a help to him and never a hindrance.

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