Two things before I dive into today’s SOAP.
First, On the advice of a trusted brother here on WordPress (thank you, Bruce), I have loosened the noose and am giving myself permission to not “feel” behind if I can’t keep up with this SOAP series EVERY day.
But I have chosen instead to compensate for by, God willing, continuing SOAP through the entire New Testament.
I will let it take however long it takes, but I’m really getting a lot out of this process and I’ve never read the NT from beginning to end straight through, so I’m really excited about this.
And the second is, unlike other mornings, I read the passage today before starting this intro section and my heart is already heavily stirred by today’s reading.
In my opinion, one of the most challenging verses in all of the Bible is in here, can you guess which one it is?
I’ve also got a second challenge for everyone.
Something is missing in this passage, do you see what it is? (hint: it has something to do with the translation I am using)
I’m excited to get started, let’s do this!
Artus Wolffort – Christ at the Pool of Bethesda
John 5:1-15 (ESV)
The Healing at the Pool on the Sabbath
5 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.
- v1 – there was a feast of the Jews
- v3 – in these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.
- v5 – One man…invalid for thirty-eight years
- v6 – “Do you want to be healed?”
- v7 – Sir, I have no one…
- v8 – Get up…
- v10 – It is unlawful
- v11 – But.. the man who healed me… said to..
- v13 – the man who had been healed did not know who it was
- v14 – “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”
v1 – these guys eat a lot!
What that stirs in me is that I’m not a very social person. I find crowds and lots of simultaneous conversations creates anxiety in me. But the Jews and the first church of Acts, they hung out together all the time in celebration and fellowship.
Is my propensity for solitude a God-given trait or leftover from my younger wounded places?
Should I be pushing more against my comfort zone and spending more time “feasting with the community of believers?”
v3 – a multitude, as in a lot of crippled people.
This just broke my heart for all of the sick and suffering in hospitals, convalescent centers, rehabilitation centers, and the host of other people where the millions of sick, crippled and dying gather with the hope that they may be healed.
When we pray for Jesus to break our hearts for what breaks his, these are who he is talking about, along with those in prison who are just suffering from broken hearts and minds.
Is my heart troubled enough to take action for the people in my community who need prayer, comfort, encouragement, mentorship or other tangible resources that I could provide?
v5 – Thirty-eight years, likely most of his life.
When I’m struggling with feeling like my life is hard or isn’t fair, do I ever take into consideration how incredibly blessed I am, even with the challenges I face?
When I complain, am I not telling God I am dissatisfied with my life?
And when I’m complaining to God about areas of my life that are the results of my own choices (hated job, broken relationships, self-induced health issues, child custody problems), am I not blaming God for situations that I got myself into and in which I have the free-will to get myself out of, or at least make the best of?
An invalid likely doesn’t have the same opportunities that I do, the same as persecuted Christians throughout the world don’t have the same freedoms I have, and yet I can complain about my life?
According to 2013 statistics, over 50% of the world’s population lived on less than 2.50 per day, nearly 4 billion people. Am I ever ungrateful for my income?
v6 – Do you want to be healed?
The obvious answer is “of course Jesus, please heal me”. But we shouldn’t be so quick to answer questions with our minds without first letting God check our hearts.
If I got well, I would have to go back to work. Isn’t being sick convenient for me?
Am I doing everything I can to get back to work ASAP, or is there a part of me that enjoys the freedom of being sick?
Doesn’t being sick come with the perks of not having to be responsible for anything? Or being able to tell people “I can’t”. Or having people serve me or express sympathy for me?
Obviously, I’m not suggesting anyone wants to be sick, I surely don’t! And as much as I hate not being able to live the life I once lived, being forced to unplug from the matrix isn’t an entirely horrible experience. The daily challenge for me now is to reinvent my life within the boundaries of my new condition and not just succumb to a victim and helpless mindset.
I believe the question is powerful in that it makes us take ownership of our condition, we must choose to get well before we can be healed.
v7 – Sir I have no one.
This stirs a couple thoughts. One, how sad! He has no friends, he has no community support. He has been left alone and forgotten for 38 years. He has nobody to show him compassion or mercy.
My church is doing a very intentional season of finding orphans and foster children new homes. How much these at-risk children need someone to show them compassion and assistance.
The second is, he didn’t respond to Jesus with “yes, I want to be healed”, he replied with the reason why he believes he hasn’t been healed. Maybe not an excuse, but it wasn’t a direct answer to Jesus’ question.
I’ve recognized this in myself, I think it comes from (within me anyway) from shame. I feel the need to explain why I make the choices I make or how I got in the situations I got in. Someone can ask me a simple question and I’ll give my resume’.
Why do I feel the need to explain (defend?) myself when I’m not even being accused?
Is this a place of my long-standing victim mentality that wants to constantly say “it’s not my fault”, when in reality, everything in my life since moving out of my parent’s house has been my choice, so everything is of “my doing”.
What would it look like to truly take ownership and responsibility for everything in my life that was under my control, good and bad?
v8 – GET UP!
This hits home in ways.
What would it look like to “get up” emotionally, be to filled with gratitude instead of discontent, to be filled with hope instead of fear, to be filled with love instead of apathy?
How easy is it for me in my condition or situation to “stay in bed longer” (proverbially or actually) than is necessary, could I “get up” more often physically, press against my mental or emotional resistance that says “I can’t”?
In what ways could I “get up” spiritually when God feels distant or disengaged from my life? Is that not an intentional pursuit on my part, especially in light of the fact that He promises to never leave us or forsake us?
v10 – The Jews…It is unlawful
Again, our journey into SOAP is meant to be personal. How do the attitudes, mindset, and culture 2000+ years ago affect me today?
With this one, I recognize that because of my abusive childhood I was taught to live by “the law”. You break the rules you are punished, lived within them and you are accepted and maybe even get a glimpse of love.
Here, Jesus heals someone of a lifetime disability yet “the law” says He did a bad thing.
How much of my own self-worth or expectations are still governed by what some perceive as right or wrong instead of by what is motivated by grace-filled and compassionate love?
Sometimes the world’s (or even religious) laws are to be broken in the name of love, compassion, rescue, redemption, restoration.
Have I stopped judging myself and others legalistically and instead see the world through the eyes of Christ?
V11 – Jesus told the man to get up, so he did. Chances are he was aware of “the law” also, so there might have been a concern that “if I pick this up I might get in trouble”.
We don’t know that, but I’m struck by the thought of what it would look like to be obedient and when others complain simply blame Jesus.
How often am I willing to do the Christ-like thing and when persecuted or ridiculed simply point to God and say “He told me to”? Obedience, obedience, obedience!
v13 – The man didn’t even know who Jesus was, all he knew is that he was healed. That was enough for him to obey Jesus when he told him to ‘break the law’ by picking up his mat.
Have I been rescued from my old life?
Aren’t I being made whole more and more each day?
Hasn’t God protected me my entire life from my insane years of active addictions and horrible decisions?
Isn’t He providing strength each day, new wisdom over the years, and a promise of better days ahead and eternity with Him?
Should not all of that be enough for my gratitude to overflow my borders and pour out into the world in the form of obedience, service, and sacrifice for His glory and not still be in pursuit of my comfort or pleasures?
v14 – Sin no more! If you do, something worse may (will?) happen.
This should terrify us all. There are many scripture verses that tell us our sin is at the root of all that ails us.
After salvation, our sin no longer holds the penalty of eternal death, but it very much gives Satan and his minions of pain and darkness to affect our lives.
My sin invites in “worse to happen to me”, why would I ever consider it an option ever again?
I don’t know about you guys, but this passage is packed with some of the most intense life-altering truths when I gut-level honest with myself.
The beauty is, God didn’t come to condemn so these really close-to-the-bone questions and exhortations are meant to grow us, not fill us with shame or condemnation.
This leads to the place of “what am I going to do with the gift of insight God has given me through His Word today?”
So, at the start of this blog, I challenge you with two questions.
Can you tell which verse I believe to be the most challenging in the bible?
For me, Jesus asking “do you want to be healed” digs so far down in my soul if I am being soul-searchingly honest with myself.
I have found in recovery ministry that “being the victim” is what serves us very well in keeping us locked in our attitudes and addictive mindsets.
Even if we stop using our drink/drug/food/shopping/gambling or other coping mechanis of choice, we still can believe that most of our life problems are everyone else’s fault and that we are helpless victims.
Being healed means I will need to take 100% accountability for my success and failures in life, and that can be SCARY!
Denial kills more people than any other cause in life (my opinion). A person who doesn’t believe he is sick, or that his illness (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) isn’t serious, will never ask for help. And if others offer to help, they will never take “the treatment” offered. (again, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual remedies)
What is “missing” in this translation and many other translations within this passage?
John 5:4 is missing!?!?
That blew me away!!! And I looked up several translations and it is missing in many of them. Some without a footnote even mentioning that it is missing.
How can that be?????
In the NIV, NLT, ESV, and others it is just not there. Here is the footnote from NIV
John 5:4 (NIV)
Footnotes: John 5:4
Many think all translations are sound, but here is an example of a profoundly good reason why we all should reference several versions when looking for biblical accuracy.
There is a big difference between the waters having healing power (the inference without verse 4) and that of an Angel stirring the water (actual verse 4).
So, did you get them both right?
Did you have a different verse in here that strikes a deeper chord in you than the one I picked?
Today the message on my heart is gratitude, let’s go live as if God is truly good to us and our life in Him is sufficient. ~Blessings in Christ