Pastor John was given an incredibly helpful word from God this past weekend as he walked us through John 5:1-18, the account of Jesus going to Bethesda to heal a man who had lived with his disability for 38 years.
It is primarily helpful because Pastor John rightfully makes the central point about Jesus, and about his knowledge, compassion and power. Too many writers put the emphasis on the healing event; Pastor John does not make that mistake. This is about Jesus and how good it is to treasure him above all things, even good gifts like healings.
It is specifically helpful because it deals with disability and faith and sin – but, again, not to make much of these things, but to make much of Jesus.
Man-centered theologies fuss over the healing, making people look more important than Jesus or even what Jesus did more important than Jesus himself.
Man-centered theologians take the extraordinary statement from Jesus in John 5:14b “Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you,” to make an argument that the Bible is actually against people with disabilities, that Jesus somehow equated sin and disability in this statement. I’ll point out a few when I get to some book reviews I intend to write, Lord willing.
If you are tempted to think that way, here is a helpful word from the sermon:
And yes, (Jesus) warns him that, if he turns away, and mocks this gift, or makes an idol out of his health, and embraces sin as his way of life, he will perish. I take that—final judgment—to be the “worse thing” (in verse 14) that will happen because there aren’t many natural things worse than the 38 years this man endured, and because in verses 28-29, Jesus says, “An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
In other words: “I have healed you that you may be holy, that you may stop doing evil, and that you may not rise to the resurrection of judgment, but to the resurrection of life. I have pointed you to myself as a life-giver. I heal in more ways than one. Don’t turn from me to a life of sin.”
I know the thing I thought I wanted most for a season was a healthy, normal child. What I really wanted was an easy, wasted life. But Jesus is so much bigger and so much better than that – he conquers sin! He gives new life! He heals us from what could really kill us, forever!
Yes, Pastor John, you got it right. This really is about Jesus! Thank you for helping us treasure the giver much more than any of the earthly gifts he could provide.