Those Pesky Pharisees Again

John 5: 10-11.

The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

¶He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

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There were always, and will always, be the critics; those who stand around being all pious and self-righteous, finding fault with those who do not believe, or behave, according to their dictates.

These were most likely scribes and/or Pharisees, who took delight in obeying every letter of the law they had derived and expanded on from the first five books of the Old Testament. Mind you, a great deal of their law was man-made, but they believed it was sanctioned by God.

I wonder if it was unlawful for them to be “working” on the sabbath. That’s what they were doing, you know. Inspecting Jesus’ acts and words in an attempt to charge Him with breaking the law. If you’re in the habit of looking for fault in others, you will almost surely find it.

We need to be very cautious in accusing others of not following our own beliefs, rules, behaviors. The first thing to do is make sure that our own behavior is indeed scripturally based. Then, we need to keep in mind that from the early ministry of Jesus, there were those outside the circle of disciples who also were teaching about Him, but not the way they were doing it. When the disciples complained to Jesus, He told them to leave those others alone.

Look at Mark 9:37-39. “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in My name welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes not only Me, but the One who sent Me.” 38John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone else driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not accompany us.” 39“Do not stop him,” Jesus replied. “For no one who performs a miracle in My name can turn around and speak evil of Me.…”

It is not our job to monitor what others are teaching or preaching, making sure they do it “our way.” Our job is to share Jesus Christ. Our job is to be becoming holy, Christlike, spirit-filled followers of Christ.

In verse 10, these keepers of the letter of the law admonished the man who was cured. “You are breaking the Law by carrying your bed on the sabbath! Shame on you! Yes, it’s nice that you’re all cured now, but really, you should know better than to pick up and carry your bed on the sabbath!”

I love the man’s response. He doesn’t seem to have been intimidated by these big shots. He said, “The One Who cured me told me what to do.”

I’m imagining the Pharisees’ faces turning red and then purple. How dare such a lowly creature talk back to them! Honestly? I don’t think, in spite of their fancy robes and high level of education, that they were very well-behaved.

What happens next is priceless. Don’t miss it.

Rise!

John 5: 8-9.

Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

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There are so many paintings of this event! I hope to see a replay of what it actually looked like when we get to heaven 🙂

I have always been impressed by the sudden response of Jesus to the powerless man. Immediately upon the man’s response to Christ, without any prelude or any record of His touching the man, Jesus simply ordered him to get up, roll up his bedding, and walk.

So many things to think about here. First, Jesus was God the Creator. He knew exactly what was causing the man’s impotence, and he fixed it without saying or doing anything a person could see.

Second, He had such compassion on this man! Why did Jesus choose to heal him, when there were many others in a similar strait? I don’t know. Maybe, because He was God, He could look into the man’s heart and know that he was ready to believe. The only thing I know for certain is that Jesus’ response was immediate and without any strings attached.

Third, Jesus expected to be obeyed.

Fourth, He actually gave three commands that were each, in their own right, miraculous: “Rise!” The man had been unable to move for 38 years, and now Jesus, without any fanfare, tells him to simply get up.

“Take up they bed.” When a person is immobile for so long, his muscles have atrophied to the point of non-existence. How did he have the strength to get up, never mind to roll up his bedding and carry it? It was part of the miracle, that’s how!

“Walk.” The man hadn’t walked in 38 years. We are not told how old he was at his healing, but we know he endured 38 years of powerlessness, unable to move, never mind to walk! Again, it was part of the miracle. Jesus not only healed what was wrong in his body, but He restored the man’s strength, balance, and physical abilities all at one time.

When Jesus performs a miracle, He does it completely. No half-way measures. No need to return for a tune-up every six months.

When Jesus’ critics, however, saw what He did, they immediately began to plot and plan. After all, he had done work on the Sabbath!

Sunday Morning Coffee: A Nation Divided

This is not a political post. It is a post about how events at the highest levels of government have divided us from each other. The virulent hatred that is being spewed by both sides is unconscionable. The only real winner is Satan, because he has managed, over the course of many years, to turn us into a nation of name-calling, physically violent, hateful people who have lost their way.

I’m not even going to look for a picture to illustrate this post, because I’m sick of looking at all the protests, parades, attacks and screaming obscenities that have polluted our landscape.

I’ve even promised the Lord that I’m going on a politics fast this coming week. That means I’m not going to look at anything that has to do with the unrest in my country for seven days. I need to have a brain cleanse, you know?

It makes me so sad that friends I have who disagree with me on political issues can’t even discuss it with me without becoming angry.

So, what is the answer? Do we all just have to throw in the towel and give in to one side or the other even if it goes against all that we believe?

No. Absolutely not. We do, however, need to find a way to have a more civil discourse that will actually accomplish something rather than just ending in a shouting match.

If I’m tired of it, and I truly am, how much more must it grieve the heart of God? This country has access to more teaching from God’s Word than any other nation on earth, yet we have become so impeded in our ability to speak rationally with each other that the air is constantly polluted with F-bombs and name-calling, threats and abuse.

What can we do?

Pray more. A LOT more.

Spend a lot more time in God’s Word.

Educate ourselves by reading material that is written intelligently on all sides.

Avoid TV channels that you know provide only one aspect of the news. I know, it’s hard to find that, but it IS out there.

Be careful what you read online. Avoid the click-bait. It can eat up hours and hours of time that could be better-spent in other ways.

The best way to make sure your voice is heard is to vote whenever there is an opportunity to do so.

The thing that makes America a republic—NOT a pure democracy– is that we send people to our state and federal governments to be our representatives and senators to speak for us. If every voting-age citizen had to vote on every piece of legislation, nothing would ever get done. So we vote for those who speak in our behalf. That’s why the every-other year elections for the House and the Senate are so important. We need to pay attention to what the people in Washington are doing. They may not be representing us at all, but instead voting with special interest groups who will line their pockets in return for votes.

Yes, it does happen. Don’t be naive.

Let me clarify : America is a democracy IN a republic. It is not a pure democracy, which always leads to anarchy and then to totalitarianism.

If you hated history class, were bored spitless by civics (does anyone teach civics any more?) and had no interest in the Constitution when you were still in school, maybe now would be a good time to go back to basics. Most American who were born in America wouldn’t score very well on the test that immigrants have to take to become American citizens. We’re ignorant about our own government, and when that becomes a widespread condition, government can do whatever it wants to.

Educate yourself.

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Wilt Thou be Made Whole?

John 5:4-6.

For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

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First, I want to share with you that the two young men who underwent the donation and the gift of a kidney came through surgery very well; the kidney began to function right away. They are both dealing with the pain that always results from a surgery, but the donor is scheduled to go home today. The donee will take longer because they’re going to be watching him closely for any sign of rejection. At this point, we’re just so thankful that it’s over, and that both of them are right on track.

Now, on with this amazing story.

The words whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had  are said not to be found in several old manuscripts. I have no expertise in these types of discussions. What I do believe, however, is that the words in question do not contradict the nature of the miracle Jesus will do; and it is also clear that the people believed in the healings that happened because they had seen it.

Apparently the waters were troubled only once a year, at the time of this particular feast, which would explain the crowds all around the pool and in the city itself.

There was a man who had been afflicted with “an infirmity” for 38 years. Jesus had compassion on him, and asked him, “Wilt thou be made whole?”

The man must have thought, “Well, of course I want to be healthy! Why do You think I’m here? But I don’t have anyone to help me, and by the time I get to the edge of the pool, someone else has stepped in ahead of me. It’s just hopeless.”

I want to clarify here that when the scripture says “When Jesus saw him lie. . .” it is not “saw him telling lies.” It is the correct verb tense, in English, of “to lie,” in the sense of “go lie down.” We have become so accustomed to the incorrect usage (Go lay down) that we don’t always understand exactly what is being said when we hear the correct usage.

Just a small grammar lesson from a retired English teacher. You’re welcome 🙂

The Pool called Bethesda

John 5:1-3.

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

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When I was a little girl in Sunday school, I remember loving to hear this story told. Later, teaching it myself, I researched in our encyclopedias. Some of you are old enough to remember those amazing books.

Jesus traveled all the way from Capernaum to Jerusalem for His next divine appointment. It’s a long trek, by foot, and they needed to arrive in time for the feast. We don’t know which one it was. There were three feasts at which attendance was required: Passover, Pentecost, and Purim. If it was the Passover, then we can count four Passover feasts during Jesus’ ministry, which lasted about 3 1/2 years.

It is a wonderful story, pointing at the amazing mercy, grace, and compassion of Jesus.

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There were always a lot of people around the pool, waiting for the water to move so they could rush their loved ones into the pool for miraculous healing. The first one into the water got the benefit. There were blind people, lame people, and people whose muscles were atrophied so much that they couldn’t move on their own. Many of them depended on friends and relatives to move them closer to the pool. The ones who managed to have moved to the very edges were, of course, the first ones in the water.

Did they actually receive healing? I don’t know. I do know that in some modern healing services, some people have received healing. I personally know of a man who was healed of leukemia after the pastor and some deacons anointed him with oil and prayed over him. He lived to be 96, I believe, a wonderful godly man who was full of the joy of the Lord. You could see the scars on his neck from sores that had healed. This happened before 1974, when we first moved to Pennsylvania. I didn’t know him when he was sick, but he never tired of telling his story. He had already planned his funeral, and was ready to meet Jesus.

I believe with all my heart that God is still in the healing business. The two men I mentioned yesterday are in surgery right now, and so far all is going well. One is the donor, the other the recipient, of a healthy kidney. One man giving health and life to another through the miracle of modern medicine, but all under the hand of God.

Signs and Miracles

John 4:54. “This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judaea into Galilee.”

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Jesus used miracles to bless the recipients; He also used them to give the much-desired signs of Who He was to the people who came to see Him, and hear Him teach and preach.

His first miracle, in Cana, served to be a sign that helped His disciples believe.

The second, in Capernaum, caused the nobleman and his whole household to believe in Him.

There is no recorded miracle, as such, in Samaria. However, any time a soul is saved through belief in Jesus Christ, that is a miracle in its own way.

God is still in the miracle business. Tomorrow, a young man in our church who is afflicted with a serious kidney disease will undergo surgery to remove the sick kidney and replace it with a healthy kidney that our assistant pastor/youth pastor is giving him.

This is a miracle of medical technology. It is a miracle of compassion. It is a miracle of the wonderful grace of Jesus. It is a miracle for the young man’s family. It is a miracle of God’s creation on several levels: The intelligence He gave mankind to be able to figure out how to do these incredible surgeries; the adaptability of the human body to be able to put someone else’s healthy organ into the body of another; the highly-trained nurses who will be caring for both patients. I could go on. We’ve been praying for this young man for a long time, and his condition finally made it necessary for either the transplant or dialysis. God’s timing has been perfect the entire time. I am hoping that the procedure may be a “sign” to someone on the team who is seeking the Lord.

Thy Son Liveth

John 4:49-53.

The nobleman saith unto Him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

Unchecked Copy Box ¶Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

Unchecked Copy Box 1And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

¶Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.

Unchecked Copy Box So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

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In spite of the gentle rebuke Jesus gave this nobleman, he persisted in begging Jesus to save his son.

And Jesus did. With no fanfare, no press conferences, no cameras or huge crowds shouting their approval or disapproval, Jesus simply said, “Go thy way. Thy son liveth.”

I’m imagining a long moment of silence here. The nobleman must have been caught by surprise, for he clearly had hoped that Jesus would actually go with him to his house and heal his son there. I don’t think that moment lasted too long, though, because there is no more conversation recorded between Jesus and the nobleman. I think that worried, heartbroken father rose from his knees quickly, perhaps thanking Jesus with nothing more than the look in his eyes, as he prepared to hurry back to his home. I am sure his heart was filled with incredible hope and gratitude. We do know that he believed.

As he was on his way home, a group of his excited servants met him on the way with the wonderful news that the boy was recovering. We know that his fever broke and he rested peacefully; we don’t know what the problem was to begin with. We only know that his recovery was unexpected, and the servants could hardly wait to run to tell the father the wonderful news.

The father already knew, though. He talked with his servants and established that his son had begun to improve at exactly the same time he’d been talking with Jesus, and Jesus had uttered the words, “Thy son liveth.”

Guess what? Not only did the nobleman believe in Jesus that day, but his whole, entire household also believed! Can you imagine the stir that must have created in the neighborhood? The servants of one household spoke to the servants next door. The wife/mother and perhaps grandparents and siblings told their friends, relatives, and acquaintances of the miraculous healing of the child.

This event certainly plowed and fertilized the ground of the hearts of the people of Capernaum to receive the seed of the gospel!