Poolside Manners’ Pt. 1 of 2

Are we right, or are we right beside the pool?

The 6th Chronological healing recorded in the Gospels marks the beginning of the 2nd year of Jesus’ ministry. Healing #6 is what my NIV study Bible calls “The Healing at the Pool.” John’s Gospel is the only of the 4 to record it. John only recorded a few of the healing that Jesus performed so we better queue in.

John 5:1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"
7 "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me."
8 Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat."
11 But he replied, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Pick up your mat and walk.' "
12 So they asked him, "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?"
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

Just a quick note of interest: you may have noticed that there is no verse 4. I almost always use the NIV; it’s just easier to read and it’s rumored to be better translated from the original text. The NIV left verse 4 out because it’s translators felt that verse 4 was inserted by a later copyist to explain why people waited by the pool. Most other versions do go with verse 4, well except for the Message which didn’t really break up any of the verses by a numeral indicator. One commentator on this subject stated that “verses 3 and 7 could not be properly understood without verse 4. Also, at the excavation site of the pool of Bethesda, archaeologists found a faded fresco on the wall depicting an angel and water.” Anyway enough wasting time; let’s get to the meat of the story.

In this story we have 3 types of people, you decide which group you fall into. The first group is those in need of healing (i.e., the sick). Second we have the rule enforcers; they are right in what they say but they’re missing the real issue. Third we have the one who has phenomenal poolside manners. We’ll look at all 3.

The 1st Group: The Sick
John 5:3 said a great number of disabled people hung out at this pool. The AMP Bible put it this way: “In these lay a great number of sick folk--some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)--waiting for the bubbling up of the water.” You can say this pool was a hospital of sorts. All of these people were poolside waiting desperately for their healing. In Verse 5 we find the main subject of this story. We don’t know how old the man was at this time of the story, but we do know that he was sick for 38 years. Again, the AMP Bible says in verse 5 that this guy “had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years.” How do you properly and Christian-ly say: That Sucks! Thirty-eight years is a long time to be in that condition. Do you realize that this guy had been sick longer than Jesus had been alive? Jesus was probably 31 by now. I am sure this sick guy tried everything to get well and this pool was his last hope. This pool was either people’s shortcut or last hope to health. Because of the way verse 7 reads, I believe it was this guy’s last hope. He’s desperately miserable.
We’ll leave that group right there; on to the next.

The 2nd Group: The Rule Enforcers
We don’t know how long he, the sick guy, had been poolside by the time of his healing but from reading into this story I think it’s safe to assume that the rule enforcers had no idea how long either. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe they knew who he was. Here, let’s read verse 10: “and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.’” If they knew this guy and his prior condition then they would have cared less about the law and rejoiced at the fact that he was even able to carry the mat while walking around. I don’t think the rule enforcers ever hung out poolside. It’s not like the pool was far away from where they were at. The guy just got his legs back under him; he would not have got far from the pool. What they were saying was not wrong, the guy was carrying around his mat on the Sabbath; but maybe, just maybe if they opened their eyes they would have noticed the miracle walking before them. They, the rule enforcers, were so worried about the rules that they forgot about visiting the sick, the hospital.
We’re done with that group.

The 3rd Group: The Healer

Now, look at who was poolside. John 5:6; using the AMP again: “When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]” Jesus had to be poolside to see this guy. On top of that, Jesus knew that he had been sick for a long time. I bet this was not the first time for Jesus to be poolside. At this time Jesus would have been about 31 or32. I wonder how many times on the way to these Jewish festivals Jesus passed by this pool. Luke 2:39 states that Jesus’ parents moved to Nazareth, but in Luke 2:42 it picks up the story of Jesus at the age of 12. If Jesus made the trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem just once every year from the age 12 until He was 31 then that would have been 20 trips. Nazareth was to the North of Jerusalem and the pool of Bethesda was a little to the north of the temple. That means Jesus would have passed this pool about 20 times, if my calculations and geography are correct. There were 3 pilgrimage feasts that all Jewish males were expected to make - Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. If He made the 3 required pilgrimages every year from age 13 to 31 then that would be a potential 57 times that Jesus passed by this pool; and I am only counting the trips to the temple. I mean I am not including the trips back from the temple. So that bumps up the number to 114 times that Jesus could have walked by this pool. I think that over the years He would start to recognize a few people’s faces. In all of Jesus’ travels of back and forth, before His ministry started, I wonder if He longed for the day when His healing touch would begin and He could empty the poolside. Did He notice this guy laying there before His ministry started? Sure there would be new faces at the poolside all the time, but Jesus would start to recognize the faces that were always there. We do know from John’s account that Jesus noticed this guy and knew he had been sick for awhile. Like I said before, this dude was sick longer than Jesus had been alive. So, whether this was Jesus 115th time of walking by the pool or just his first, he still knew this guys condition and did not leave him the same as when he found him. Jesus completes the Healer group.

So, which group do we fit into: the sick, the rule enforcer, or the healer? When I started this study of the healings of Jesus, I wanted to get a better understanding of faith and how it works-- specifically towards the need for health/healing. As I continue this study I find these stories have so much more to do with living the life than just about healing. The healings in these stories are like a fine tasting frosting on top of an already yummy cupcake. . . But back to the question that started this paragraph. Which group do we fit into? If we fit into the sick group then we need to keep studying the word, reach out in faith, and never give up hope. Remember that Jesus, during His earthly ministry, never left anyone sick who wanted to be healed. If we fit into the rule enforcing group then it’s time for us to open our eyes and behold the opportunities for miracles that are right next door to us. If we fit into the last part, the healer, then it’s time to find some poolsides. You might say only Jesus fits into the healer group. Well that’s true sort-of; but Jesus told us in His Great Commission to Go Preach the Gospel, Signs & Wonders will follow, Don’t walk in Fear, and Lay hands on the sick and the sick will get…. What? I can’t hear you, what is the final part of the Great Commission? “The Sick will get well!” Mark 16:18. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go do some poolside struttin’.

Stay blessed y’all, it your choice.

The Roof Rippers!! Pt. 3 of 3

Catchin’ Jesus Attention.
I was just going to do 2 installments on “the Roof Rippers!!” but I can’t skip this major point. Before we move forward we better read the story again. In Roof Rippers pt.1 I went with Luke’s account. In Roof Rippers pt. 2 I covered Mark’s story. It’s time to go with Matt’s record.

Matt 9:2 Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." 3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!" 4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." 7 And the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.

When I was in youth, I remember hearing messages about “For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” That statement is pulled from the first half of 2nd Chronicles 16:9. It’s funny that I don’t remember hearing the 2nd part of that verse in youth group. It states: “You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war." Looking back it may have done me better to hear the 2nd part more than the 1st part of 2nd Chron 16:9. But the point of the messages I heard in my youth was to spark something within me, to make me rise up and be noticed by God. Here in Matthew chapter 9 we see Jesus taking notice of some individuals. Look at Matt 9:2 “Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’” All the translations that are my go-to’s pretty much translate the statement “Jesus saw their faith” the same; but the Message did give this scripture a good twist. The Messages Bible states the phrase in Matt 9:2 this way: “Jesus, impressed by their bold belief”. This is actually pretty close to what the original Greek stated. The Greek word used in Matt 9:2 for “saw” is “eidon.” It does mean to literally see, but in Matt 9:2 is has more of a metaphorical meaning as in: spoken of the mind meaning to perceive by the senses, to be aware of, to remark. The same Greek word “eidon” is used in Romans 11:22 when it says “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God.” Eidon is translated to the word “consider.” Back to Matt 9:2, Jesus saw/considered their faith. Something caught Jesus eyes; something caught His attention. What was it that caught Jesus attention? Was it the faulty roof that just opened above Him? Was it the dust and rubble from the roof that was falling all over Him as He taught? Was it a dude being lowered down to His feet? No, it wasn’t any of those distractions. What made Jesus take notice was the 4+ friends’ faith. Matt 9:2 states “when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic…” It was their faith that made Creature/Savior of the world stop mid-sentence of what I am sure of was an earth shattering message and take notice. I really never thought of this before, but do you realize that these 4+ friends committed a crime in trying to get their friend to Jesus? Think about it, this is truly breaking and entering. They broke somebody’s roof. I am positive that the house Jesus was speaking in was not one of theirs. If the house was one of theirs then that person would have spoken up and said: “hey, stop breaking the roof. It’s my house; we can just kick everyone out and talk to Jesus.” I wonder what the owner of the house was thinking as he watched his ceiling open up. I’m sure it was some serious damage. This could not have been a weak roof. It had to support at least 5 people. James 2:17 famously says “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” These guys did not have dead faith! It took work to bust through that ceiling. On top of that, they really had to trust the roof because by busting a hole in it they compromised the integrity of that roof. Roof Busting Faith: that will catch Jesus attention every time. I want some Roof Busting Faith, don’t you? The truth is I/we have it, if we call on Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Jesus, as recorded in Luke 17:6* and Matt 17:20*, said that just a small amount of faith can move some serious stuff. Romans 12:3 says: “in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” From Romans 12:3 some theologians debate whether God gives some Christians more faith than others or if He gives all the same measure. Really, it doesn’t matter because according to Jesus’ teaching we just need a small amount to do great things. These 4+ guys moved something. They moved a roof to get their buddy healed. I think it is time for today’s church to practice its’ Roof Rippin’ skills. It’s time to move some thangs. Yep, I used the word thangs.

This healing miracle is the last of Jesus first year of ministry. Or you can say this is the last of His first Passover year. WOW! What a 1st year! From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. The highest would be people flocking to Him for his teaching and healing touch. The lowest would be His own home town trying to kill Him. Jesus 2nd year of ministry promises to be even more exciting.

Stay blessed y’all, it’s your choice.

*Luke 17:6 He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.
*Matthew 17:20 He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."