This is a day in which I am marvelling that I caught something I've never seen before in a portion of scripture I've read many times. I am talking about the very familiar Bible story regarding the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda.
King James Version (KJV)
5 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.
12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.
14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
I've often wondered at the plight of this poor man at Bethesda's pool. 38 years is a long time to hope for a little kindness from another, and yet no one would stoop down to lift this man into the water. Surely after all that time it seems someone should have taken an interest! Today, I think I came upon something within the body of this text which would explain the hesitation of anyone to help him. After the Lord healed him, He spoke these words to him, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee".
Whatever his particular sin was, even in his infirm condition, he probably was still carrying out the deed or Jesus would not have had to say, "Sin no more".
Sin in your life will have that type of effect on your "social standing". It will cripple relationships, and cause people to hold you at arm's length, and even shun you. Even after you're repented, since others cannot really see into your heart like God can, there is a good chance you'll still be avoided. We don't know that this man was at the side of the pool for 38 years. We only know he had his infirmity for that long. He could have been there every day since the doctor's report, or perhaps he just recently started showing up at the pool within recent years. The only thing we're really sure of in this story is that before Jesus showed up, no one wanted to help this man.
Now let's switch our focus from the lame man, and from those who didn't want to be associated with him unto Jesus. Jesus was not like the other people at the pool. Here's a perfect example of how Jesus made Himself of "no reputation". (See Phillipians 2:7) He had no worries that he would lose status by associating with this man. He wasn't worried that he'd be seen in the company of someone who wasn't part of a popular crowd. He wasn't watching to see if the man had finished jumping through the hoops he needed to jump through in order to prove himself worthy of fellowship. He wasn't looking to see if Sister Jones or Brother Smith were now friendly toward him, a sure indication he was back in good standing and now worthy of being accepted.
Everyone could see the condition of that man's body, but only God truly knew the condition of his soul. It may not have been much better than his body, and yet Jesus had nothing at all to lose by helping him, by associating with him. In fact, Jesus was so much bigger than worrying about what others thought, He marched right in where others had feared to tread. And in the long run, this was not a situation which worked out well for Jesus. In fact, it caused the launch of an attack when the man "tattled" on him to the Jews , thus instigating more persecution! And yet, Jesus alone was the only one willing to be a friend to this man sick in his body and somewhat wretched in his soul!
What was it that sparked the heart of the Father to respond to the plight of this man? We know he had to be on the Father's heart because immediately upon the revelation that Jesus was the one who healed this man on the Sabbath Day, Jesus taught on how He did nothing except that He saw the Father doing it. Jesus saw the Father lift this man up and heal him, and that is why He did it!
19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. John 5:19
The day may come when you'll be as one of the characters in this Bible story. You may be someone who has lost favor with people because of sin in your life, and you'll feel the rejection of others, and be in a situation, maybe even for years, where you're held at "arm's length" because of a past sin, or a mistake you've made. Even after you've fully repented, others can't see inside of you, and they can still treat you like you're just as horrible as when you were in the middle of your worst day of transgression! You may be the man at the pool, and stuck there for a very long time in that condition! Perhaps you've already been there, and "know the feeling". For you my dear friend, I pray God sends someone like Jesus to minister to you!
You may be as one in the crowd who is watching to see "which way the wind blows", afraid to be associated with another because you don't want to sully your own "spotless reputation." You might feel a little prodding to help that man, but it's just too risky. You've got way too much to lose! So, you'll hold back, and watch and wait to see what others do.
Or, you may be the like the Lord. You may be the one who can see past the rumors, see past the embarrassment of association, see past your own fears about how you might be personally negatively affected by ministering to someone that others are avoiding. You'll reach down your hand, and lift that fallen one up.
And let me tell you, my beloved friend, when you do, like Jesus, you are going to be the one who is manifesting the heart of your heavenly Father.
Dear Heavenly Father, In the Name of Jesus, we ask that You help us to be more concerned with the heart of God than the opinions of others. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen!
Always in the Love of Jesus,