“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
“Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.’ But he answered them, ‘The man who healed me, that man said to me, “Take up your bed, and walk.”’ They asked him, ‘Who is the man?’ …The Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.” John 5:2-12,16
The first person to miss the point in this story is the invalid. Any hope and expectation for what could be had atrophied; his life view was distorted into how he had always been and forever would be. When the wonder-working Jesus asked whether he wanted to be healed, he could not even imagine anything beyond immediate complaint and helplessness. The truth was that Jesus had come to seek and to save the lost, and he recognized neither his own actual need nor his Savior’s omnipotent majesty. (Luke 19:10)
Along came the Jews, whose intent on the prescriptions of the law warped both their judgment and hearts. Compassion had no place alongside their dictates, and rather than seeing a human being freed from decades of illness and rejoicing, they tripped over a broken rule and castigated both the healed and the Healer.
And can’t we walk so hard and fast in our scheduled days and regulated plans that when Jesus shows up in an unexpected way, we fail to notice the treasures He has for us? Where are we so trapped in the temporal that we miss the spiritual point?
When the Lord enters our ordinary and presents a jarring offer, how do we respond? When sovereign God breaks into our expectations and turns our lives topsy-turvy, do we chafe and resist the inconvenience, or seek the deeper meaning in what He is doing, the aspects of His character that shine anew? When unusual circumstances require we change our usual, do we complain and accuse, or humbly ask what He is teaching about priorities, idolatry, sacrifice? Do we have the courage to repent, and make deliberate adjustments?
God intends for nothing to be wasted in life’s twists. He invites us to get up and walk out of our self-determined, self-regulated habits and live on His plain, think as He thinks, love what He loves.
Father, help me learn and embrace Your point in every aspect of life. Teach me Your ways and show me Your glory, that I might be fully engaged in Your heavenly, holy purpose. (Exodus 33:13-19)