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John 5:1-17

“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?”  -John 5:6

38 years.  This is the length of time that the man that Jesus encountered at the pool of Bethesda had been paralyzed.  Imagine the scene:  “multitudes of invalids,” blind, lame, paralyzed, gathered at the pool, hoping for a miracle, but at the same time, not really expecting one.  It puts me in mind of some of the homeless camps in our own country, the “under the bridge” population of our day:  homeless, lonely, hopeless, stuck….paralyzed. 

So when Jesus approached the man, it’s curious to me that He asked him this question:  “Do you want to be healed?”  The answer would seem obvious-of course he wanted to be healed from his paralysis, why else would he be there?  But as was the case so many times, Jesus was thinking way beyond the man’s physical healing, He was concerned for his spiritual healing.  We are given insight to this several verses down (v.14) when Jesus again encounters the man in the temple and says to him, “See, you are well.  Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”  Was Jesus suggesting that maybe the man’s sin is what caused him to be paralyzed in the first place?  And that if he continued to sin, would he be punished with bad things, physical things even worse than his previous paralysis?  By no means!  God just doesn’t work that way!  Of course, our sinful actions can surely result in bad physical consequences in this life.  But we know from the Word of God and from our own life experiences that bad things happen to good people.  “Being a good person” will not keep us from the trials of this life.  

So what did Jesus mean when he said to the man, “Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” ?  Jesus knew that the man’s paralysis was not the worst of his problems.  He addressed the man’s physical sickness by healing his paralysis.  Now he addresses the bigger problem-the man’s spiritual healing-his unrepentant heart.  Jesus knew that the consequences of a sinful and unrepentant heart would be much worse than the 38 years of physical disability the man had endured.  

The apostle Paul speaks of the terrible consequences of an unrepentant heart, not only in this life, but for eternity:

“But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.  He will judge everyone according to what they have done.  He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers.  But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.”  -Romans 2:5-8

We often pray for physical healing, and rightly so!  God still works miracles today, just as Jesus did at the pool of Bethesda.  But our bigger concern should always be our spiritual state.  We are all in need of healing.  

Blind:  Refusing to recognize or admit to areas of sin in our lives that we need to see (Revelation 3:17).

Lame:  Ineffective due to laziness or feelings of inadequacy (James 4:17).

Paralyzed:  Incapacitated by fear or inability to overcome sin in our lives (Psalm 143:4) 

Do we want to be made well?  Do we really want to address our spiritual sickness by eliminating sin in our lives? Or like the man by the pool, have we become comfortable with our situation, with feelings of blame, shame, self pity, or victimization?

“I have no one to put me in the pool, and while I am going, another steps down before me.”  (v. 7)

 We are all sick, wounded, disabled, in need of a Savior-Turn your heart to the only One who can heal.  

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” -1 Peter 2:24

Reflective Questions: 

In what areas of your life might you be suffering from spiritual blindness?  Lameness?  Paralysis?  

What do your prayers most often look like?  Do you always ask God for help in addressing “worldly” problems (health, finances, etc.) or are you asking Him for spiritual healing and guidance?

When you help people in need, do you also address their spiritual needs, or do you tend to focus on the physical?  

Prayer for today:

Thank You, God, for being our healer, for caring about our physical needs as well as our spiritual needs.  We are thankful that You give us a life of abundance, that You care about us, that You provide for us, that You still work miracles today.  But more importantly, God, we thank You for healing us spiritually, for turning our hearts toward You, and promising us eternal life, where there will be no more tears, no more pain and sorrow, and where we will be completely healed, physically and spiritually, and enjoy everlasting life in Your presence.  In Jesus name, amen.  

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Devin Otte
Devin Otte
28. Feb.

What a powerful devotional! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to our spiritual struggles!

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