I don’t mean to be a cynic. In fact, most people who know me probably wouldn’t think of me that way, if they thought about me at all, which they probably rarely do anyway.
How’s that for cynical?
But no, that’s just realistic.
C’mon, we all do it, see the world through our own eyes, at least to begin with. What’s their angle and what’s in it for me. Everything from Wall Street to Main Street to the garage sales on my street, we want the best bargain with the lowest possible personal sacrifice.
Perhaps, such was the case of the man lying crippled for thirty-eight years by the Pool of Bethesda. The treatment modality of the day had to do with waiting until an angel stirred the waters, and whoever got in first was healed. (Not sure about the veracity of this method, no double blind studies back then, but hey…)
Jesus shows up and we listen in on the conversation:
“When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, ‘Would you like to get well?’”
I love how Jesus (a) doesn’t assume what the person wants, and (b) requires the person to verbally identify what it is they desire of Him.
“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.”
So, in reference to (b) above, notice that the man merely makes an excuse for why he must stay infirmed, not what he actually desires. Hmmmm….
Undeterred, his Creator makes the decision for him:
“Jesus told him, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!’”
“Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, so the Jewish leaders objected.”
(So what else is new?)
“They said to the man who was cured, ‘You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!’”
“But he replied, ‘The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
“Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.
“The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, ‘Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.’”
Initially, one would think this man, being in the Temple, was worshipping God for his healing. That’s a possibility, maybe. However, we have lots of folks going into church buildings for reasons other than God in our century also. I’ll leave it at that, because after Jesus’ injunction about changing his lifestyle, this guy seems to have second thoughts, as in, “Wait, you mean there are some moral ramifications???”
“Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.”
This man was no dummy. Don’t think for a minute that there wasn’t plenty of time sitting around that pool to hear loads of town gossip about Jesus and the Jewish leaders. I don’t mean to impugn someone’s motives who isn’t here to defend himself, but…
“So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules.”
Blessings without change, salvation without sanctification, affected holiness without hardship. It is the church’s undoing. Subsequently, we become mere subculture instead of counterculture. Where’s the modern-day Job who says, “Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him”, rather than merely showing up for the church picnics?
That’s not cynical; it’s just realistic.
John 5:6-16 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved