Monday, January 18, 2016

The Tragedy of Unbelief (John 5:1-18)

With the third sign in John’s Gospel we see the tragedy of unbelief.

Jesus finds a man who has been lame for many years. The man is waiting near a pool where he believed he might be healed, if only he could get into the water first after an angel stirred the surface. Jesus choses to heal him without having to wait on the superstition to be fulfilled.

It is important to see here that Jesus heals the man, independent of faith. It is Jesus (that is to say God, see the next passage) that heals the man, not his belief. In other stories in the Gospel people could try to make the erroneous argument that a person’s faith is what heals them. That is never the case. In the Gospels faith is nothing more than trust in God, and it is God who works in the lives of those who trust Him. Or, as in this case, those who don’t trust but in whom God wants to move.

When this man is accused of breaking the religious law, he is quick to absolve himself. It isn’t his fault, the man who healed him told him to carry his bed! He is clearly one of those people who see themselves simply as victims of everything around them.

The Pharisees for their part are not interested in any miracle or sign of God’s power in their midst. They are too concerned with keeping all the rules they have created to avoid offending God. As is the case with such legalistic people, they have slowly shifted their thinking so that they are no longer concerned with what God might think. Forget offending God, you better not step on their toes!

Jesus later warns the man that he needs to change his way of life. His sin is going to lead to his destruction. This man has encountered God, has been healed by God, and is invited to trust and follow God’s better way of life. How does he respond?

He turns to the religious legalists of his day to let them know who it was that made him break their law.

He looks like he is well on his way to being a good, religious hypocrite!

Don’t get to know Jesus only to become a good “Christian.” That would be the tragedy of unbelief. Jesus wants those who will trust and follow, those who will look to HIM as Lord.

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