By Aisha Darwesh
The Word: John 5:32-38 (ESV)
32There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.In today’s verses, Jesus is addressing the Jewish leaders who were harshly persecuting Him because of the miracles and works He performed on the Sabbath. In verse 30, Jesus states He is not acting on His own, but that everything He does is in accordance with God’s will and is in obedience to God who sent Him.
This sayings of Jesus must have been a hard pill for the Jewish leaders to swallow. For the longest time, they were following age-old traditions to establish their version of righteousness, and now that someone who is genuinely righteous enters the picture, they don’t even recognize Him.
This common thread is embed throughout John 5: being stuck in a rut or instead in a wrong mindset. In the same way that the man at Bethesda lay crippled on his mat for a long time, these Jewish leaders were crippled by their own man-made rules and regulations.
There are a lot of similarities in both situations. The invalid man experienced a much lower standard of living due to his illness. Similarly, the Jewish leaders substantially lowered the holy standard of God’s law by bringing it to a level that they could justify. In doing so, they became ensnared by all their rules and lost sight of what it truly means to be holy and righteous.
Jesus, in His love and wisdom, establishes His authority over both healing and the Sabbath. While the invalid man expected to get healed by being tossed into the swirling waters, Jesus commanded him to pick up his mat and walk. Interestingly enough, that very command that set the invalid man free from his bondage directly violated a rule the Jewish leaders invented to keep the Sabbath.
Jesus wanted to lose both the invalid man and the Jewish leaders from their limited ways of thinking. Verse 34 gives us a beautiful picture of our Lord’s heart: “But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I’m speaking to you this way so that you will be saved” (John 5:34 MSG).
Verses 32-38 listed above is Jesus’ appeal to the Pharisees. He’s trying to show them a more excellent way to live–the way of true freedom. He’s essentially saying, “Look if you don’t believe me, look at the works I do. Everything testifies to the truth that I am who I say I am and it’s the Father who sent me. I’m here to set you free!”
Isn’t God good? In our utterly hopeless state of bondage and confusion and weariness, God wants to save us.
Think of it: out of the hundreds of sick people who lay by the pool, Jesus went out to seek the very one everyone had given up on and forgotten. I’m sure he had given up and accepted his fate as the crippled man on the mat by the pool. But Jesus hand-picked him and displayed God’s glorious power and victory in his life.
God wants to do the same with us.
Is there any area of your life where you feel “crippled” or helpless? Do feel hopeless about a situation or like God has forgotten about you regarding this situation?
If you’re dealing with feeling like you’re stuck in a rut or worse, stuck in a hopeless situation, remember the man who lay by the pool. Or remember the Pharisees that criticized Jesus. Sometimes things don’t go the way we think they should, but that’s when God can move in a situation. It’s when the situation is particularly bleak, that God’s glory shines all the brighter.
Be encouraged by God’s faithfulness and miraculous power to heal today. Trust Him with that situation and live victoriously over sin. He’s already won the victory for you. All you have to do is rest in it. Rest in Him.
Father God, I thank You for Your grace and mercy operating in my daily life. You are so good to me. Forgive me for my small thinking concerning You and Your ways. You are on a whole other level. Help me see things like You do. Lift up my head. May Your Name be glorified in my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.