Key Text: Jn. 5:1-30
The colonnaded pool of Bethesda is today hard to reach and identify, but one of the three pools near or under the Convent near St. Annes Church in Jerusalem certainly is the pool where Jesus healed the lame man who suffered there for 38 years. The five colonnades are not all intact, but various artefacts attest to them being around the three different pools. The Jews of his day had very strong opinions and faith in angels, and it lingers to this day. This story is to help us restore our faith in God’s powerful mercy, being greater than the demands of any law. We need His word here, to help us enact His mercy in our lives, rather than exacting the demands of God’s law upon our self or others. Once the mercy of God touches our hearts, then the motivation is there, to help us obey the law of Christ. Hosea 6:6, Matthew 9:13 & Galatians 6:2.
The law of the Sabbath was strict and real. Jesus obeyed it, but not the contemporary interpretation of the Sabbath law. As Christians we need to always have a ready and open mind in applying our lifestyle to the law of Christ. However, we must be ever conscience of what the law of Christ is, and what an interpretation of it is. Understanding Galatians 6:2 is imperative, believing it and living it, is impossible without God’s strength and wisdom. This is exactly where Jesus and the religious leaders of his day came into conflict. Christians can expect the same conflict to arise, when we try to practice the law of Christ. Why does this conflict exist? Because as humans, we all try to please God by our own means, wit, strength and wisdom. It doesn’t come naturally to any of us, to cooperate with God’s word & Spirit. How do we let Him work in and through us, in obeying the law of Christ? Here are some facts about God’s work in Jesus.
1. God desires our cooperation with the words of Jesus. He told the man to get up, pick up his mat and walk. Jesus did NOT tell him to go to the water when the angel stirred it. God simply desires our cooperation with His word and Spirit.
2. God’s commands, when we first hear them, might sound impossible. After being lame for 38 years, which one of us, would actually try to do what Jesus said?
3. God’s work demands our hearts desire to be healed, fixed, helped and strengthened. Do we really want his help to do His work, not our own? This question, is the reason, God proclaims faith as God’s work, not our own. John 6:28-29, Romans 14:20 & 2nd Cor. 9:8.
4. God’s work always supersedes our own work. Notice the lame man, without anyone’s help, actually did try to get to the pool on his own steam, maybe crawling, (v7) but regardless of how hard we try to help our self, it is futile in God’s eyes. We must let him help us in our attempts to do what is right.
5. God’s work takes us into direct conflict with the worlds’ work. If Jesus had told the man to Rise and Walk, that would not have upset the Pharisees. It was the fact that he picked up his mat, that broke their interpretation of the Law on the Sabbath. The healed man would have not been an offence to them. But Jesus working to heal him, would indeed upset the Pharisees, but since the man picked up the mat, he too was in danger of prosecution. The Pharisees ‘let him off”, but ONLY after he confessed that it was Jesus who told him to pick up the mat.
6. God’s work is in searching and finding people who want to do His work and cooperate with His word and Spirit (v14). He will not forsake us, Hebrews 13:5 & John 4:23.
7. God’s work always results in any real damage from the world being done against Him, not necessarily or always our self. (v16-17). Colossians 1:24.
Are we willing to make progress in God’s work in our spiritual healing and helping others to get His work of spiritual healing too?