Hello, it’s Mick here and welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. We continue in our reflections in John’s Gospel today as this week we are considering ‘conversations’ that Jesus had with different people, and how, as we reflect on them, the Lord can strengthen and encourage us in our daily walk with him.
The challenge yesterday was to make time to have conversations with God, which will enable us to have conversations for God. Today’s story reveals a conversation which points us to a great Biblical truth, which is: “Don’t miss the wood for the trees!” Today’s Bible passage is John 5:1-15 – a story about two conversations; the first between Jesus and a paralysed man and the second between this man and some of the crowd looking on.
First the paralysed man; we read he had been in this condition for 38 years. It was a situation he was used to and it shaped his daily rhythms, one of which, we read, was to be at the Bethesda pool. This was one of two great pools and was a place where many people, especially sick people, gathered. This society saw disability as a punishment from God so such people were hidden away and excluded. Here’s a great truth: God has chosen the weak and the foolish of the world in order to confound the wise (1 Cor 1:27–28).
The belief was that when the pools started to stir, this was caused by the wings of an angel, and if you quickly immersed yourself in the pool, you would be healed. This man had no friends, no close family, he was completely alone. Nobody cared …. but Jesus cared, he always does.Jesus sees this man and asks him this direct question in verse 6: “Do you want to get well?” He asks you and me the same question today.
There are times in all our lives when we are so desperate for healing – either for ourselves or for others. For many years I suffered with chronic knee pain – I knew it was right to keep praying for healing and asking others to also pray. However, over time it becomes increasingly difficult to keep asking others to pray for you especially when there seems to be no breakthrough. Seemingly unanswered prayer can be difficult to endure. When I eventually had my knee replaced (thank God for the NHS!) I was told it was a miracle I had been able to walk at all! – over those years the Lord helped me endure. I believe he always answers our prayers in some way even if we cannot obviously see the answer at the time.
The man’s response is fascinating. You’d think he would say ‘yes’, but he doesn’t, he basically moans to Jesus that he can’t get down to the pool! Jesus cuts to the chase in verse 8, ‘Get up, pick up your mat and walk’– that’s just what which he does. Hallelujah!
Maybe as you are listening to this podcast, you are looking for healing in body, mind and spirit for yourself or for someone else. If so, keep the conversation going with the Lord; don’t give up; ask him for breakthrough.
A second conversation then takes place between the healed man and some religious and political leaders gathered round the pool. They start asking this man, “who healed you?” – I love his reply in verse 13, ‘the man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd’.
Jesus never claims the limelight – it’s something for us to remember as we follow him.
So what does this mean for us on this Tuesday? Let me go back to my opening phrase: “don’t miss the wood for the trees” – in other words, don’t focus so much on the small details that you miss the big picture! All the paralysed man could see was him getting to the pool when the waters stirred, to receive healing, and he completely missed the point that the one who brings healing was stood right next to him!
So today, the Lord is encouraging us to look beyond our own expectations, to go beyond our boundaries, to go through the glass ceiling that we set ourselves. He wants us to look to him so we can realise his expectations for our lives. When those times come when we think it’s not possible to see a breakthrough, remember this story. Remember, Jesus’ reply to his disciples when they asked “how is this possible?”, he said, “All things are possible with God!” There is a bigger picture and you are part of it!
Lord Jesus, thank you that with you all things are possible. Help us, as we engage with the details of our day, not to miss you standing right beside us ready to listen too, and answer our prayers. Amen
READING: John 5:1-15
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralysed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’
‘Sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’
Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.’
But he replied, ‘The man who made me well said to me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”’
So they asked him, ‘Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?’
The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’ The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.