October 22, 2010

Nameless But Notable VI: Embracing An Anchor

The Healing at the Pool of Bethesda

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?" "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me." Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat." But he replied, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Pick up your mat and walk.' "So they asked him, "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?" The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well."
John 5:1-15

An invalid or handicapped man sits beside the Pool At Bethesda. He has been ill for 38 years and is clearly hoping to be healed somehow or he would not be beside the Pool. As stated in the narrative it was believed he was waiting for the water to "stir". It was believed that when the water stirred it was and angel and when it happened the water was to have healing properties for the first that entered. The Bible never validates this claim though. Every time the water stirred though the invalid had..."no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me." This thereby supposedly negated the healing effects of the water. The fact that this unnamed man was so incapacitated that he couldn't even move quickly enough to beat other invalids into the water shines a light on just how bad his condition was.

Jesus healed this man without laying a hand on him. He only stated a command, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." So how do the Pharisees view this? Legalistically and contentiously. They tried to nail the former invalid with violating the Sabbath by picking up his bedroll and carrying it. The invalid's reply: "The man who made me well said to me, 'Pick up your mat and walk.'" The Pharisees reply pretty much alludes to a witch hunt at this point. Jesus slips away into the crowd. Later Jesus sees that sinner again and warns him of the danger of his sin and the newly healed man spreads the news of Jesus' miracle. What can be implied here is that this man's invalid condition may have been the direct result of his sin. We do not know how old he was but we do know he was in the condition he was in for the 38 years mentioned.

First, we must realize that Jesus' asked this man if wanted to be healed. Wouldn't every person with a handicap or anchor like this holding them down want to be healed? The answer to this is NO. Some people like their anchors, in most cases they are called sin. Some chose to hold onto their sin rather than accept their Savior, their healer. In this case the this man wanted healing.

As for those repulsive legalists (Pharisees) they again only concerned themselves with violation of their illegitimate legal code rather than the mercy and grace exhibited by Jesus. Pathetic...but we see it every day even in this day and age. Sadly, we again see a negative response from a person positively affected by Jesus' miracles and showcases of mercy. The now newly healed man shifts the blame for his violation of bogus laws onto the very One that allowed him to violate the Pharisees overly restrictive legalism...Jesus Christ. Jesus can't catch a break with either the people he performs miracles for or these thickheaded religious leaders. What made it worse for this invalid is he eventually rats out Jesus to the Jews.

It is obvious to all that can correctly read and interpret this passage that, even though Jesus healed him, the invalid found it more important to get back into the good graces of a twisted religious elite rather than take the chance of being punished for bringing glory to the only One that matters. The very One that healed him. How messed up is that? There is a word that sums up what this man did. Betrayal (and senseless). It is astounding that some will gleefully wallow and drowned in the depth of their depravity and ignorance. They are content to stay in threatening waters never once reaching for a life preserver. Instead they only push it away and flail in the other direction to embrace an anchor (sin). Some have eternity so close to them they can touch it, literally within their grasp...and they let it go and they turn away. They have the truth and embrace lies. They can see the light but prefer dwelling in darkness. They could have life but they chose death. Makes no sense to me but the Bible said there would be people like this didn't it?

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