Sometimes when we have a problem, we become fixated on the one thing that must happen for our problem to be solved. In waiting for that “one thing”, we have inadvertently put God in a box. Today, I wish to invite you to study the gospel of John, chapter 5, verses 2-6 and learn how God redirected someone who was consumed with solving a problem his way to solving a problem God’s way.
Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a]and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. -John 5:2-3 NIV
The people were lying by the pool. Where have you been camping out? What have you been waiting for as your solution?
As early as kindergarten, children learn the idea of grouping things together. For example, a dog, a cat, a rabbit might fall under a group called “pets.” Groups are formed based on something the items have in common. In the same way, notice “blind, lame, and withered” were grouped into the grouping, “sick.” In this case, the thing in common that created the grouping was their sickness.
Oh, Beloved, you will find yourself having “things in common” with many people. However, what puts you in a group depends on the thing in common you wish to focus on. If you focus on your common interest in God, you may be in a Bible study group. However, if you focus on your common interest in something else, it might lead you away from godly things.
Often we separate from groups only when we feel we no longer share anything in common. Has it ever occurred to you that God might call you to pull away even while you share something in common? Just as the man by the pool who still shared a common disability with the rest of the people at the pool, Jesus was inviting him to leave the group to enter into a different association with God Himself.
In the midst of all the things we might have in common in a group, God invites us to choose. Beloved in the groups you associate with, do your “things in common” draw you closer to God or away from Him?
And a certain man was there, who had been thirty-eight years in his sickness.
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?” – John 5:6 NIV
Notice the man did not see Jesus. His eyes were focused on the pool. It was Jesus who “saw him lying there.” — In the Greek, there are different words to express the idea of seeing. The Greek word God chose for “saw” is “eido” which expresses “merely mechanical, passive or casual vision” as contrasted to another Greek word for “saw” which means “intense inspection.” The fact that God was seeing “casually” as compared to seeing with intensity or with earnest inspection tells me that God did not pick this invalid because he was deserving. What does this tell you about God’s character? What hope does this character give you for your own life?
God, in His grace, comes to redirect us. Moreover, when God comes, He says the least expected words. We want God to just say “Yes” to our idea.
Instead, Jesus said, “Do you wish to get well?” What did Jesus mean? Of course, the man wanted to heal or else he wouldn’t have been by the pool. Jesus’ question forces us to reflect, “How badly do you want this?” It is absolutely necessary for us to resolve this question because it is only after we have resolved it that we can respond to God’s challenge to attempt the extraordinary, to “Arise, take up your pallet, and walk.”
God has been watching you and in His mercy, God is ready to act. The question is, “Do you want what you want bad enough to take a leap of faith, to step outside of the box, to do things God’s way?” What are your reservations?
…“Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” – Isa 35:4-6 NIV
Isaiah prophesied the sign of the Messiah. Healing the lame was one of the signs to prove that Jesus was the one sent by God to save His people.
In the context of this immediate passage, the “things” that Jesus did was not only the act of making the man walk but He also redirected the man’s focus to God as his hope and turned the man into an evangelist who “told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.”
God is “working until now” doing “these things.” Notice that “until” is an adverb of continuance. In other words, God is always at work to redirect our focus to Jesus. As the Son, Jesus joins in his Dad’s work ethics and is always working as well. What about you? Do you have a start and stop ministry? Describe a time when you abdicated from your role as a son or daughter because you allowed yourself to be idle in sharing the gospel message?
In summary, when a problem consumes you, know that:
1. Progress begins when you disassociate yourself from the “things in common” that focus your attention on your limitations instead of God’s ability. The Invalid associated himself with a group called “sick”. God walked him into an association with God Himself.
2. Jesus “saw” him lying there. Assurance begins when we realize God chooses to help the helpless, not because of any merit on our part but because of His character of grace and mercy.
3. When God speaks, He may not say what you expected to hear: “Do you wish to get well?” You must settle this question first before you are willing to solve the problem God’s way.
4. The way God acts is often contrary to the normal “rules of the game”: Jesus healed the man on a Sabbath.
5. The way God acts often defies odds: Against a personal history of 38 years was God’s command, “Arise, take up your pallet, and walk.”
6. God expects you to act when you may not have all the facts: The man who was healed “did not know who it (Jesus) was.”
7. When God touches your life, He expects you to leave the old patterns. God’s Words are severe to those who return to the past: “…do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you.”
8. God touches your life so that you will know Him better. God made a return visit so that the Invalid would know it was Jesus who had healed him.
9. God touches your life to turn your life into a testimony for Him: The ex-invalid “told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.”