Friday, April 11, 2014

A DEEPER HEALING (John Chapter 5)

“Do you wish to get well?”  What kind of question is that to ask of an invalid?   But that’s exactly what Jesus asked the man lying beside the pool (John 5:6).

The man had been an invalid for 38 years.  He was paralyzed and all alone and completely helpless.  He was gathered there with a multitude of others desperate souls—blind, lame, and paralyzed.  Some manuscripts, but not the earliest and most reliable, insert the following after verse 3 by way of explanation, “waiting for the moving of the water for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred the water: whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had” (John 5:4).  It commonly supposed that this Scripture portion was added by some copyist who wanted to provide an explanation for why the people gathered there. 

We are not given further information regarding this matter, but it seems likely that some kind of superstition developed regarding the healing powers of that particular pool.  There were community pools in Jerusalem in that day.  Some were spring fed, which could account for the movement of the waters.  There were a lot of sick people in need of healing.  Desperation can give rise to various superstitions—not too many years ago blood-letting was a common practice!

So in the Bethseda pool “lottery” the first one into the water won.  The prize was to the swift or the strongest or those invalids having friends who would help them to get there first.  But this particular man had no one to help him get into the water.  When the water was stirred up, and while he was going another stepped down before him (John 5:7).  The man had been an invalid for 38 years.  For nearly four decades he had suffered.  Jesus saw the man and “that he had already been there a long time” (John 5:6).  And Jesus said to him, “Do you want to be healed” (John 5:6)?

Not every particular sickness or malady is the direct result of sin, but all human maladies are rooted in original sin.  Adam and Eve sinned against God and unleashed a contagion of ills that have infected us all.  No descendant of Adam is untouched in life by the grievous consequences of the curse.  And in response man is prone to look to all kinds of supposed solutions for deliverance. 

“Do you wish to get well?”  There is a sense in which God asks that question of us all.  In response to sin we look to a variety of solutions and rationalize or excuse our sin-sourced infirmities with a wide array of explanations.  A multitude of the spiritually paralyzed gather at the “pool” of superstitious and humanistic solutions to man’s besetting ills.  But if we do wish to get well--with respect to being cured from sin--there is but one alternative.

Jesus did for the invalid what no one else would have been able to do.  He healed him—compassionately, instantly, and perfectly.  He didn’t need an angel’s assistance.  He required no “stirred up” waters.  He told the man to “get up, take up, and walk,” and that’s what the man immediately did (John 5:8-9).  Jesus is able to do the same with the sin-paralyzed (Cf. Ephesians 2:1).  He is willing and able to forgive, cleanse, and re-birth them that so that they might walk “in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).  It matters not if they’ve been a spiritual invalid for many years or few.  The presence of no external means of support is no hindrance to His ability to heal.  He alone is able to heal us “from all our soul’s diseases.” 

Joni Earackson Tada suffered a paralyzing injury at a teenager.  She desperately wanted to be healed.  When friends would visit her hospital room she would ask for them to read from John chapter 5 about the man lying by the pool.  Her sister later took her to a healing conference in Washington DC, but no genuine healings took place there.  Discouraged and distraught she began to harbor a bitter spirit.  But then she cried out to Jesus for help.  She experienced in Him a deeper healing, a healing from sin (Cf. Psalm 139:23-24).  For decades since she has testified to Jesus’ ability to grant such a healing to those who look to Him.  She has said, “Don’t be thinking that for me in heaven the big thing will be to get my new body…I want a glorified heart (i.e. perfectly healed from sin).  On a visit to Jerusalem not too long ago she visited the pool at Bethseda.  She leaned there on the guard rail of the old ruins.  While there alone speaking to Jesus she said, “Oh Jesus thank you for a no request for physical healing, because the no answer to a request for physical healing has worked to purge my heart from sin.”  You can hear her testimony via the following link:

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