Again, Jesus is in the right place at the right time. It is interesting to note that He had probably been here before but, as He obeys the leading of His Father, this time it will be different.
Jesus appropriately asked, “Would you like to get well?” After thirty-eight years, this man’s problem had become a way of life. No one had ever helped him to be the first into the pool. He had no hope of ever being healed and no desire to help himself. He tells his sorry story to Jesus in John 5:7, as he had told it to so many people before, over the years.
Then Jesus spoke, obviously with great authority because this man overcame many obstacles and was instantly healed.
One conversation with Jesus and…
- his lack of hope,
- his unbelief that it would ever happen,
- his self-pity,
- his huge disappointment over previous wasted opportunities,
- his bleak future,
- his concern for the opinions of others,
…were all wiped out and his outlook was totally different!
Just like the Samaritan woman, who was so insignificant but became the messenger of salvation for her town, this man, who no one had bothered about for years, became famous, causing a near riot as the authorities tried to kill Jesus.
“Would you like to get well?”
This is such a valuable question today. Many of us know of a time when we made a choice to stay sick, as getting better made us have to face up to a situation that was easier to cope with when we could hide behind ill health. How many times have we had a cold or headache because we did not want to go to a prior appointment? A “sicky” is a very popular reason for not going to work or school, but all this really does is open the door for the devil to give us sickness. So many illnesses are related to emotional problems and sin and we need to tackle these problems with honesty.
This does not mean that every sick person is walking in sin. After all, this man by the Pool of Bethesda in John 5:1-15 was healed before Jesus tackled the problem of the sin in his life.
Sickness benefit makes it more difficult to get healed because our source of income is removed immediately and we need to have good employment straight away so that we can provide for our family. We require faith that, as God has already provided healing for us at the Cross, when we receive healing we can trust the Lord to have the right job for us when we are well again. No matter how trapped you feel in your problem, God can minister to your deepest needs. Don’t let disappointment, difficulty or hardship cause you to lose hope.
God may have special work for you to do in your condition, or even because of it. Many have ministered effectively to people who are hurting, because they have already triumphed over their own hurts. Whatever you do, do not sit and think that you are always going to be sick. Spend time in the Word until you see yourself healthy and whole. If, when being honest about this question, you realise that it looks as if it would be difficult to walk in healing for emotional or financial reasons, stop now and pray. God’s plan is abundance and a very full life, without sickness and disease, John 10:10.
“My Father is always at His work.”
The religious people described here obviously had very hard hearts because all they were concerned about was that this man had broken the law. According to the Pharisees, carrying a mat on the Sabbath was work and was, therefore, unlawful. It did not break an Old Testament law so much as the Pharisees’ interpretation of God’s command to “remember to observe the Sabbath as a holy day” – Exodus 20:8. This was just one of hundreds of rules they had added to the Old Testament law.
If they had known anything of the heart of the Father, they would have known that God was rejoicing over this man’s new life and He would not see the carrying of a mat to be a problem under the circumstances. God is prepared to do great things in our lives, but we can shut out His miracles by limiting our views about how God works.
A man who hadn’t walked for thirty-eight years was healed, but the Pharisees were more concerned about their petty rules than the life and health of a human being. It is easy to get so caught up in our human structures and rules that we forget the people involved. Are your guidelines for living God-made or man-made? Are they helping people, or have they become needless stumbling blocks?
This man had been paralysed, but now he could walk. This was a great miracle. But he needed an even greater miracle: to have his sins forgiven. The man was delighted to be physically healed, but he had to turn from his sins and seek God’s forgiveness in order to be spiritually healed. God’s forgiveness is the greatest gift you will ever receive. Rejoice now over who you are in Jesus Christ.
“…the Son can do nothing by Himself.”
Another problem that the religious people had with Jesus was the fact that He was identifying God as His Father. The Pharisees also called God their Father, but they realised that Jesus was claiming a unique relationship with Him. Because of Jesus’ claim, the Pharisees had two choices: to believe Him, or to accuse Him of blasphemy. They chose the second.
Because of His unity with God, Jesus lived as God wanted Him to live. If Jesus spoke about not being able to walk the God-life in His own strength then how much more should we depend upon the Father to be able to walk the walk as He has called us to do? Jesus left the earth so that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, would come to give us the power to do God’s work and walk in obedience to the Word of God. Because of our identification with Jesus, we must live as He wants us to live. The questions, “What would Jesus do?” and “What would Jesus have me do?” may help us make the right choices.
Eternal life – living forever with God – begins when we accept Jesus Christ as Saviour. We may not understand with our minds how we are tied up with the three persons of the Trinity, but we certainly rejoice in our spirit that God has an amazing plan and we are all a vital part of it. God is the source and Creator of life, for there is no life apart from God, here or hereafter. The life in us is a gift from Him – Deuteronomy 30:19,20; Psalm 36:9,10. Because Jesus exists eternally with God, the Creator, He too is “the Life” (John 14:6) through whom we may live eternally, 1 John 5:11.
Those who have rebelled against Christ will be resurrected too, but to hear God’s judgement against them and to be sentenced to eternity apart from Him.
The key for us, if we want to walk the supernatural life of victory, is the same as it was for Jesus: to recognise that, “by myself I can do nothing” and “seeking not to please myself but Him who sent me” and to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Home challenges for Power Up! – No. 9: Who are you pleasing?
1. Read the first section of “Who are you pleasing?” about the man healed beside the pool of Bethesda. If you had been the man, how would you have felt before you were healed?
2. How do you think you would have felt after you had been healed?
3. Have you ever felt that it was easier to stay sick? What would have been your reaction, were you to have been asked, “Would you like to get well?”
4. Read the second page of the notes. Do we care more about things being done “properly”, like a church meeting, than we do about someone (whoever they are) hearing about Jesus and responding to Him?
5. Look at an area of your life that you are finding difficult and ask the question: “What would Jesus do?” What changes are you going to implement in your life today?
Read John 5:31-47
6. Whose testimony does Jesus value most? (John 5:36)
7. What do you think is “the work the Father wants Jesus to finish”?
8. Why does the Word not dwell in the Jews according to John 5:38?
9. What was missing from the Jews’ hearts according to Jesus? (John 5:41)
10. From whom are we not meant to be looking for praise? Who are we looking to please?
11. Are you keener to please God than to please people?
Read John 6:1-15
12. Why were the people following Jesus at this time?
13. What two things did Jesus see when He looked up? (John 6:5)
14. Why did Jesus ask the first question?
15. What was Philip’s answer to the problem?
16. What was another answer to the problem?
17. What was Jesus’ answer to the problem?
18. What was the first thing Jesus did with the bread before He distributed it? (John 6:11)
19. Do you always pray over your food and give thanks?
20. How do you think the disciples felt as they gathered up the left-overs?
21. How do you respond to an “impossible” situation in your life? Stop and pray now, asking Jesus about His solution.
22. What did you find most exciting from this whole passage?
23. Choose one verse to learn by heart. Write it down.