Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lessons from a Familiar Story

I have always loved the story of Jesus healing the crippled man at the pool (John 5:1-18).  I love how Jesus notices the man in his hopeless situation, and how he takes time out of his busy schedule to talk to and heal this man.  To me, it shows me so much about Jesus' character and the priorities he set during his ministry.  I think it is also a good lesson in what our character and our priorities should be as Christians.

The setting for this story is that Jesus is in Jerusalem during one of the Jewish feasts on the Sabbath.  As he is walking near the temple, he notices a particular man, among many diseased, sick, and crippled man who had gathered around the pool.  They were there, because legend had it that an angel would come down to the pool, and stir up the waters.  The first one into the pool after it was stirred by the angels would be healed.  

This particular man had been there for thirty eight years, waiting for his miracle.  He had no family, and no friends.  He was crippled, abandoned, helpless...and essentially hopeless, yet he still sat by the pool...waiting for his miracle.  What a sad situation for this man to be in.  

Jesus goes up to the man, the first thing he asks is basically,"Do you want to get well?"  

The man replies by recounting his situation to Jesus, that he has no friends or family and that every time the pool is stirred, someone else gets into the pool before he does.  The poor man was helpless.  Seeing his hopelessness, Jesus heals him and tells him to get up and take his mat and walk.

At this point, we should all be happy.  After all, a man who had been crippled for 38 years, a man who could not help himself, was finally free to move about on his own.  He could walk!  

But...the religious people of Jesus' day were not happy.  A law had been broken, because no work was to be done on the Sabbath. The man was questioned about why he was carrying his mat on the Sabbath, and healing was evidently in their eyes, work.

The laws regarding the Sabbath would allow you to do certain things, like help and animal who was in danger, so why is this a problem?  After all, we are talking about a human life being forever changed...isn't that what the Sabbath is supposed to be about, resting in God and getting spiritual healing?  Well, the Pharisees did not see it this way, and gave the man and Jesus a hard time.

Another thing I noticed, is that Jesus had compassion.  Jesus was probably on his way to the temple, after all, it was the Sabbath, and a special one at was a feast day.  There was a lot of preparation involved in preparing for those extra special holy days.  In the midst of all that he was involved in, Jesus still had time to notice the man and heal him.

How many times do we hurry through our busy days and not notice someone who is alone, hurting, and hopeless.  Jesus' top priority was doing God's will, and a big portion of that was helping others.  Jesus regularly took notice of specific people with a desperate need when he was busy with other things.  Jesus set his priorities in a way that showed that other people were a priority, and treated them with love and compassion--rather than the interruption that they were.  How many times do I fail to do this?  More than I can count and want to admit.

Christianity is about the relationship that we have with God, and our fellow believers.  It is about those relationships more than the rules. Sometimes we have to jump in and do the work at hand to help others, after all, isn't that what Jesus did?

No comments: