Rules rule (not)
“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] 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.  [b] 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 Jewish leaders 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.”
How could they miss the miracle? It astounds me. Whenever I am astounded by someone else’s mistakes I try to pause and look at my own life. Where am I missing a miracle? I know I can be judgmental and prudish, excusing myself from the same scrutiny I give others.
But 38 years of torment erased by a single command of Jesus!? It says that Jesus found out how Long he had been there, I think Jesus may have enquired, “who has been here the longest?” and picked that guy out of the “great number” of people there to heal.
I don’t want to miss the miraculous by tripping over the mundane. The religious leaders of the day had written volumes of rules to live by, very specific rules that were like application for the 10 commandments. Somehow these rules were given as much or more importance than the original word of God. Jesus exposed the ridiculousness by telling this man to break the rules. God said rest on the sabbath, do no work. man said well this is what work is. Carrying a weight, the mat.
I don’t want to miss the miracle by explaining the background. Jesus healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years.
“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 Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.”
I really wish Jesus hadn’t said this or that John forgot to write it down. “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you”.
Is there a cause and affect relationship between my behavior and the consequences of my life? I don’t have the answer for that here yet.
There’s a difference between following rules made by man and following rules made by God. Breaking the rules have different consequences too. Jesus saves us from our broken rule records by paying for all those blunders with his life, dying in our place on the cross. Following rules doesn’t get us closer to God, following Jesus does.
I have accepted Jesus’ death as payment for my sins. Will you too?
(Originally posted 3/1/2016)