Thursday, July 21, 2011

on John 5, and getting up!


Our hyper-vigilant, but thankfully always mistaken, fire alarm woke me up at 5:30am, and after rolling about for a bit I finally decided to just get up. What better time than this to consider John 5!

The chapter tells of Bethesda, and a miracle Jesus performed there. Bethesda was a pool with five porches at which sick people would wait for a miraculous healing:

“For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted.

There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years.

When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]

The invalid answered, Sir, I have nobody when the water is moving to put me into the pool; but while I am trying to come [into it] myself, somebody else steps down ahead of me.

Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your bed (sleeping pad) and walk!

Instantly the man became well and recovered his strength and picked up his bed and walked…” (John 5:4-9).

As I read that, I wondered if many of us go through life like that, just “lying there [helpless]”, having already “been a long time in that condition”. We mope about, wallowing in dejection and self-pity, perhaps even expecting somebody else to pick us up, to “put us into the pool”, perhaps thinking defeatist thoughts about how other people always get ahead of us.

We say we’re believing God for miraculous breakthroughs, and yet do nothing but keep a negative confession and a pathetic, negative attitude.

I thank God I’m no longer in that deep rut of depression, just “lying there [helpless]” and complaining, but I know I’m not where I need to be yet. Having occasional bouts of “helplessness” and negativity is very frustrating in its own way. In my spirit I know it is no way for a victorious Christian to act, and yet… “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”.

I think there’s a definite lesson for me in these verses. When the man had told Jesus what his problem was – and it actually did sound pretty bad to me – Jesus didn’t go, “Aw, poor you… yeah, you’ve got every reason to just lie there sad and depressed”.

Instead, He said, “Get up!” (note exclamation mark!)

Get up!” Whenever I’m tempted now to wallow in useless self-pity and negativity, whenever I take a perverse pleasure in being dismal and pessimistic, I remind myself of Jesus’ rousing, energising command.

“Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

It’s interesting that Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]” It’s like He was asking, “Do you really want to overcome this? Or are you actually content to just stay stuck in your familiar, comfortable, miserable rut? Are you prepared to make a real effort and rise up in faith in order to see God’s power at work?”

It is an effort to pick ourselves up, to take those steps of faith, one after another after another… keeping a good attitude, and staying positive and peaceful all the while. Trust me, I know.

Jesus told the man to “Get up!” and the man did – he took that literal step of faith. He believed Jesus had the power to heal him, that Jesus was willing to, and had, in fact, already done so.

I believe God expects us to do our part, to do what we can. Then when we get up and walk in faith, He takes care of the rest. I know, through conviction and experience, that when I make that effort, suddenly I find that I’m on my feet, and that I’m well.

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