Thursday, March 24, 2011
Why we stay stuck (Part 3)
Part 3 John 5:2-9
I don’t know what your predicament is, but I do know that God can work change in the midst of it. And even if God does not intervene in exactly the way we might wish, even in those situations that he allows us to struggle though, he gives us the grace to deal with the situation. Paul says that he prayed three times that his particular ailment might be taken away. And God did not grant that request. But what Paul finally says is that he was granted an even greater blessing by receiving grace to deal with his situation to God’s glory.
God may not change some of our situations, but he can and will change our rut. He can and will deliver us to a place where even if we are in the same situation, we will not be in the same place.
He will use all that he allows to come to pass to his glory if we yield ourselves to him. Real change is possible with the God who holds everything in his hands!
So, what is the comfortable predicament that we find ourselves in today? I think for each of us there is a situation or two that we say we want to change, but we really don’t. Perhaps it is because we kind of like our rut and fear the change that it might bring to get out of it. Perhaps we simply think it’s hopeless and we doubt that God could do anything about it, anyway. In either case, God is ready and willing to intervene.
Our man back at the pool never really responded to Jesus’ question, “Do you want to get well?” Jesus simply takes command of the situation and tells him to get up and walk. As Lord of the universe, he really doesn’t need to ask our permission to change our lives. These things are done for His glory, and for our benefit. Jesus merely commands him to get up and walk.
He tells him to do something that is impossible. Paralyzed men cannot walk any more than spiritually blind men can see truth. But Jesus is always commanding us to do the impossible and then, making those things possible.
That leads us back to our question, "Do you want to get well?" It’s a fair question for him and for all of us.
There are three things that we should notice about what took place at the Pool of Bethesda. They are what Jesus saw, what Jesus asked, and what Jesus said.
What Jesus saw: If we look at verse 1, we see that John describes Jesus going up to Jerusalem for one of the many feasts in the Jewish calendar. And in verse 2, John tells us about the pool of Bethesda. It was there, at the Pool of Bethesda that Jesus encountered our main character, who had been an invalid for 38 years. This means that this man had needed healing since before Jesus was born! John then tells us in verse 3: Here a great number of disabled people used to lie--the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed.
But it’s the first part of verse 6 that I want to draw your attention to. Here it tells us what Jesus saw: Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time. This hurting man was surrounded by “a great number” of people and yet, Jesus saw him lying there.
What was true that day beside the Pool of Bethesda is still true today. To anyone who is hurting, remember that you are not alone. It’s not just you. There are “a great number” of hurting people all around you right now. If you were to take a good look around you, you would see “a great number of disabled people,” hurting people, people who don’t have it all together, people with scars, people with wounds so deep and some so incredibly sore that it only takes a word or a look to open the scab, and create fresh hurt.
But, Jesus saw him lying there. Jesus sees us. He is not oblivious to our pain, to our hurt, or to our needs. Just as he saw that man and learned that he’d been there for a long time. And he knows just how long, how much and how deeply we've been hurting, too.
A lot of us Christians fail to do what Jesus did by the Pool of Bethesda; we fail to acknowledge the reality of people’s pain. We avoid the subject because it makes us uncomfortable or we communicate to people, “You’re not supposed to hurt. If you were a real Christian, if you were truly spiritual, you wouldn’t feel this way.” Or we offer superficial answers to deep hurts, saying, “Just pray. Have more faith. Let go and let God.” Do we think people are stupid? Jesus didn’t do that.
Jesus saw him lying there, and that's important. Jesus saw the man’s hurt and knew that it was real, and it had been real for a long time. And of course you’ll ask, “What about all those other people at the pool? The Bible says, there were a “great number” of them. Did Jesus pass them by?” I have no idea. Maybe he healed others whose stories have not been preserved for us. John says about 15 chapters later that Jesus did many other miraculous signs, which are not recorded in this book (John 20:30).
[final installment tomorrow]