Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 8:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “In Keeping Them.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 5:1-15 (ESV).
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.
As I read through the lyrics to this song, “In Keeping Them,” which is based off Ps. 19 & 111, and then I read through this passage of scripture in John 5, the Lord Jesus brought to mind many parallels between the truths in this song and the events which took place in this story of Jesus healing an invalid. So, I believe I am to share these parallels here, which make spiritual application of this Biblical story to our walks of faith with Christ today.
If someone is physically disabled he is immobilized, restricted and/or hindered in some way from operating normally, such as his eyesight or legs or arms may not function properly. So, what would it mean if someone is spiritually disabled? It would mean that person is not going anywhere in a spiritual sense, i.e. he is spiritually inactive, perhaps. He would be so because he is being restricted or hindered by sin in his life (See Ro. 3:23; Heb. 12:1-4).
This could apply to the unsaved, and it could also be in reference to the saved who are out of fellowship with their Lord, and who have slipped back into sin and into following after the flesh, instead of following after the Spirit. The sin that is in their lives is hindering them from fellowship with their Lord, and so they have become complacent, lazy and untrustworthy in their walks of faith, and they are thus “disabled.” They may go through the motions and may give off the appearance of having walks of faith in Christ, or not, but they are still following after the flesh and so their walks are hindered by sin’s deceitfulness. Some of these spiritually disabled have been that way for a very long time, too.
Do you want to get well?
The first step to spiritual healing is to recognize that you are disabled and that you need help. The problem with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law is that they did not see that they were sick and in need of healing. They thought they were righteous, even though they were full of wickedness. So, we have to humble ourselves before God, and admit that we are sinners, and that we need help, before we can receive help. We have to admit that we are without resources to save ourselves, and in our own strength, and that we need God to save us. And, we have to not make excuses for why we are not well, either. Since it is not in our own strength that we are spiritually healed, anyway, and thus we must rely upon God’s saving grace and Jesus’ sacrifice for sins to save us, there is no excuse for us not to be walking by faith, in the Spirit, and no longer according to our sinful flesh.
Follow His Instructions
Once we have expressed a desire to be spiritually healed and/or saved, and we have humbled ourselves before God, admitted our sin and our need of him and of his healing, then we need to do what he tells us to do (See 2 Kings 5). The healing process will stop right there if all the further we get is just to admit our sin and to acknowledge our need of our Savior. It will stop right there if we refuse to do what he tells us to do next. If all we ever do is take in head knowledge, but it never gets applied to our lives and moved to our hearts, then we will remain disabled. We have to “Get up, pick up our mat and walk.” So, what would that mean in a spiritual sense? What are Jesus’ instructions to us if we want to be saved, or if we want to be whole spiritually and to walk in fellowship with him?
Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny (give up) his self-life, die daily to sin and self, and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self we will lose them for eternity, but if we willingly die with Christ to our old ways of living in the flesh, then we will gain eternal life (See Lu. 9:22-25; cf. Eph. 4:17-24). He said that if anyone loves him, he will obey his teaching (See Jn. 14:23-25; cf. 1 Jn. 2:3-5; 3:24; 5:3). He said that his sheep know him, they listen to him and they follow (obey) him (See Jn. 10). Jesus said we also have to repent of our sins if we want to see the kingdom of heaven and have eternal life with God (See Matt. 4:17; Lu. 5:32; 13:3-5; 24:47). For, Jesus died, not just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15).
Jesus told the man to get up, to take up his mat and walk. At once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. When Jesus spoke with Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus, he told him to “get up” and stand on his feet because the Lord had a job for him to do. There were other times, as well, when the Lord used these words “get up” because he had something he wanted to do in those people’s lives. To “get up” means to “stand,” and to “stand” means to take a position on something or to be steadfast or courageous, or to “hold one’s ground against an enemy” (Dictionary.com). It is a call for action. It is a call for change of position, too, i.e. for a change of heart, mind, and thinking, which is the meaning of repentance, though applied Biblically to turning from sin to God.
In standing to his feet, the man gave Jesus honor and respect (obedience). The man could have just continued to sit on his mat and complained that he was unable to stand, i.e. he could have listed off a bunch of excuses why he couldn’t get up, but he didn’t. After all, this is what he had always known, at least for 38 years. He could have feared the unknown or felt more comfortable staying where he was, because it was the known. Yet, he heard the Savior tell him to get up. He believed him, and he stood and did what Jesus told him to do.
Many people are right where that man was. Jesus is ready and willing to save them and/or to heal them spiritually and to deliver them out of slavery to sin, only they prefer to stay on their mats and to remain disabled because it is the known for them rather than them trusting in Jesus Christ to save them from their sins and to set them free. Oh, how sad!
He Comforts and Warns
As soon as the man was healed, and he obeyed God, he was faced immediately with persecution. Now this man was not a seasoned Christian. He didn’t have the training in the scriptures as did the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. He was not yet even in relationship with Jesus Christ, for he didn’t even know who had healed him, and yet he knew instinctively that he could trust Jesus, and so he believed Jesus’ words. Yet, he showed no fear and did not seem to be intimidated at all by those who would rebuke him for doing what the Lord had told him to do. He simply just answered their remarks with what he knew which was that the man who had healed him told him to get up, take up his mat and walk, and so he did it. Don’t you just love this example of child-like faith?
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, especially in some areas of the world, we may be immediately persecuted, too. If we have died with Christ to sin and self, and we have changed position (heart and mind) away from sin to following our Lord in obedience, even worldly Christians in the church may persecute and reject us because of our child-like faith and trust in our Lord in doing what he has told us to do. In much of today’s modern church here in America they no longer teach about sin, hell, judgment, repentance and obedience. And, if we do, then we are tagged as disunifiers, intolerant, bigoted, and judgmental.
Yet, the Lord comforted the man. He found him and said, “See, you are well again.” Don’t you just love it? I do! When humans reject and persecute us, the Lord is always there to comfort and encourage us with his love. If our persecutors begin to cast doubts in our minds about God or about his work of healing in our hearts and minds, then he speaks softly to us and says, “See, you are well again.” Yet, don’t expect these words of comfort and assurance if you are still living among the spiritually disabled because you refuse to get up, take up your mat and walk, because you like it better down on the ground. He is not going to assure you that you are well if you are still living as though you are not. Yet, if you did follow him in obedience, but you have fallen again, I do believe he will remind you that he has made you well, and that you need to live like you say you believe.
Then, he warned the man to stop sinning or something worse may happen to him. I am not certain of the “worse” Jesus had in mind, or the extent to which this man’s relationship with Jesus was now established, so I can’t speak definitely concerning what Jesus intended with this man specifically. Yet, I do know that when Jesus forgives us of our sins and he heals our sin-sick souls, that he tells us to stop sinning. He said we need to die daily to sin. There are lots of instructions in the New Testament written to Christians that tell them to “stop sinning” now that Jesus has set them free from sin. So, I know Jesus is saying that to us. I also know that God disciplines those he loves, and that he calls even his followers to turn from sin or to cast off (throw off) besetting sins. So, we may have to undergo painful discipline, at times, when we ignore our Lord and we refuse to follow his instructions.
After Jesus had spoken these words to this man, he then went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. He immediately gave testimony to the name of Jesus Christ as the one who had healed him. And, we should do the same. We should not hide our testimonies out of fear of those who might rebuke or reject us for our faith, but we should be bold and courageous in testifying about our Lord and in being his witnesses and servants. This man had simple child-like faith who believed Jesus’ words, did what Jesus told him to do, then responded in faith in the face of persecution, who was then encouraged and strengthened by the Lord, and then went and told his persecutors that it was Jesus who had healed him. May we all have that kind of simple faith and trust in Jesus Christ in doing what he says, in not fearing persecution, and then in being bold and courageous in testifying about our Lord and of his great salvation. Amen!
In Keeping Them / An Original Work / June 3, 2014
Based off Ps. 111:10; 19:7-11
Stand in awe of your Lord.
Harken to His teachings.
Follow where He leads you.
Live for Him today.
Through Him you gain wisdom;
To my Lord belongs all
Worship and my praise.
Perfect is the Word,
Refreshing souls in His love.
His commands are faithful,
Guiding us each day.
Joy comes to the heart of
Those who love His teachings;
Follow His instructions.
He will light their way.
Abide in the Lord, and
Obey His commandments.
His Word is more precious
Than all of our gold.
By His Word He warns us,
Comforts, and implores us.
When we follow His Word,
There is great reward.