June 6, 2018
John 5:1-18 The Voice (VOICE)
During the time of Jesus’ ministry, Bethesda was known as a place full of suffering, impurity, and darkness. Most people in the vicinity purposely avoided this place, but Jesus walks boldly into it in order to serve people. Among those plagued with disease and physical challenges, Jesus singles out a lame man who for 38 years has waited patiently for God to heal him. The man has been looking at his limitations and talking about needing people to help him, but the Lord is going to get him to look Higher for salvation in order to receive the wholeness found in the presence of God.
We are all tempted to focus on our limitations, but we must resist doing so because God is not limited by our weaknesses. For 38 years the “mat” has been this man’s resting place, but Jesus tells him to pick it up and carry it in new strength. Pick up your mat—that thing you have been resting on for comfort—ask and expect the Spirit to move you into wholeness leaving weakness behind. Be bold with your asking and avoid trying to figure out how God will touch you. Trust, because Jesus is the Healer and we all need him!
1 When these events were completed, Jesus led His followers to Jerusalem where they would celebrate a Jewish feast] together.
2-3 In Jerusalem they came upon a pool by the sheep gate surrounded by five covered porches. In Hebrew this place is called Bethesda.
Crowds of people lined the area, lying around the porches. All of these people were disabled in some way; some were blind, lame, paralyzed, or plagued by diseases; and they were waiting for the waters to move. 4 From time to time, a heavenly messenger would come to stir the water in the pool. Whoever reached the water first and got in after it was agitated would be healed of his or her disease].[b] 5-6 In the crowd, Jesus noticed one particular man who had been living with his disability for 38 years. He knew this man had been waiting here a long time.
Jesus (to the disabled man): Are you here in this place hoping to be healed?
Disabled Man: 7 Kind Sir, I wait, like all of these people, for the waters to stir; but I cannot walk. If I am to be healed in the waters, someone must carry me into the pool. Without a helping hand, someone else beats me to the water’s edge each time it is stirred.
Jesus: 8 Stand up, carry your mat, and walk.
9 At the moment Jesus uttered these words, a healing energy coursed through the man and returned life to his limbs—he stood and walked for the first time in 38 years. But this was the Sabbath Day; and any work, including carrying a mat, was prohibited on this day.
Jewish Leaders (to the man who had been healed): 10 Must you be reminded that it is the Sabbath? You are not allowed to carry your mat today!
Formerly Disabled Man: 11 The man who healed me gave me specific instructions to carry my mat and go.
Jewish Leaders: 12 Who is the man who gave you these instructions? How can we identify Him?
13 The man genuinely did not know who it was that healed him. In the midst of the crowd and the excitement of his renewed health, Jesus had slipped away. 14 Some time later, Jesus found him in the temple and again spoke to him.
Jesus: Take a look at your body; it has been made whole and strong. So avoid a life of sin, or else a calamity greater than any disability may befall you.
15 The man went immediately to tell the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the mysterious healer. 16 So they began pursuing and attacking Jesus because He performed these miracles on the Sabbath.
Jesus (to His attackers): 17 My Father is at work. So I, too, am working.
18 He was justifying the importance of His work on the Sabbath, claiming God as His Father in ways that suggested He was equal to God. These pious religious leaders sought an opportunity to kill Jesus, and these words fueled their hatred.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for asking me questions to stir my faith for a move of the Spirit. I will pick up my mat and follow you into greater wholeness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.