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Be Made Whole

Week_24_Be Made Whole Gillette Wyoming

Be Made Whole

When John described the sick man at the Pool of Bethesda, he told us that the man was sick for thirty-eight years, not that he sat by the pool for thirty-eight years. Based on what we know about life expectancy at this time, it is likely that this man was sick his entire life, or at least most of his life. He was an old man in their community. A life of illness was the only life he knew.
 
My home television is often turned to the Golf channel, which means that we watch the senior tour when there aren’t other tournaments happening. Golf is unique because it is one of the few sports in which senior competition gets public attention. Can you imagine if seniors continued to play other sports…like mixed martial arts? A twenty-year-old can fight in the cage for hours, but an old man fight would be a death match. I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I knew there was a senior citizen UFC fight on TV.
 
That’s what I picture when I think about the sick man fighting to get into the pool when the waters of the Pool of Bethesda began to churn, but everything changed when the old man encountered Jesus.
When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
Sometimes, we complain about things in our lives that we are not willing to actually change. When we see ourselves as overweight, poor, depressed, lonely, childless, or overwhelmed, Jesus asks us, “Would you like to get well?” When we have our own idea of how life should be lived, Jesus confronts us with an alternative solution.
 
When Jesus healed the man at the Pool of Bethesda, you would assume everyone who witnessed the event would celebrate and choose to follow Jesus. However, that is not how the religious leaders responded. Because Jesus performed the miracle on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders objected. When the Jewish leaders saw the man who had been cured carrying his bed, they reprimanded him for carrying his bed on the Sabbath.
 
After the prophets wrote the Hebrew Scriptures, Rabbis added oral traditions, laws, and interpretations to the collection of holy writings. These Rabbinic writings added to the laws that we see today in the Old Testament, and they took the Sabbath laws to the extreme. For example, one of these laws forbade people from carrying their bed on a Sabbath. The Sabbath was no longer about honoring God. Instead, it was about appearing to be righteous.
 
Jesus knew the oral traditions. He knew that carrying your bed on the Sabbath was forbidden. So, why did Jesus heal this man on the Sabbath? He could have come back the next day or simply told the man to wait until the next day to carry his bed. Instead, Jesus instructed the man to break this Sabbath law. Jesus was teaching us that sometimes it is necessary to break a law, especially a religious law.
 
Growing up, my church used the word “sanctuary” to describe the large room where we gathered to worship on Sundays, and there were special rules for the sanctuary. For example, we were instructed to never stand on the altar, drink in the sanctuary, wear a hat in “God’s house,” or eat all the extra communion bread. Okay, that last one might have been necessary.
 
What is a sanctuary? A sanctuary is a holy place or a place that provides protection, and that is why it is a terrible name for the Christian Church to use to describe a room. The church building is not God’s house. We are God’s house, His holy temple. God has tabernacles in us.
Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
In addition, the church building should not be a place for Christians to bunker for safety. We are not commanded to separate from the world, but to be in the world. We cannot complete our great commission or the command of Acts 1:8 (make disciples) without interacting with the world. When we cower in fear, we are ineffective.
 
Sanctuary language implies that God’s home is in the church building and that He stays there, and if God stays in the church building, so does our faith. That is why our church chooses to use the word “auditorium” to refer to the big room in which we gather on Sundays to worship, to avoid the sin the Jews continue to commit at the Western Wall of the Jerusalem Temple Mount. They believe that God resides in a location, but God, and the ability to worship Him, is not confined to a building. The Jewish temple was destroyed, and we should have no desire to see it rebuilt.
 
We choose not to act differently in the auditorium than everywhere else because God is with us wherever we are. God is everywhere. For that reason, we choose to break sanctuary rules. I believe Jesus had similar motivations when He instructed the man to carry his bed on a Sabbath.
But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” 12 “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded. 13 The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. 
So far, this interaction with the sick man has almost nothing to do with the gospel message that is preached in churches today. The man was healed without confessing sins, without praying a prayer of salvation, or even without putting faith in Jesus. Usually when Jesus healed people, He told them that He healed them because of their faith.
 
It also appears that Jesus is disregarding the law and encouraging this man to misbehave, but that is not the end of the story.
But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” 15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.
Jesus did not heal this man to lead him to rebellion. He healed Him to lead the man to repentance. Jesus was inviting the man to a journey of sanctification. It wasn’t enough to recognize that Jesus was the source of life. Jesus invited him to surrender to the source of life. You can’t fully experience the life that Christ offers us without following His plan for life, and sin is rebelling against God’s plan for life.
 
The problem is that religious people often take God’s plan and attempt to leverage it for their own gain. That’s why the Jewish religious leaders created the oral traditions. They twisted the rules God created to acquire power. That is why Jesus said the Sabbath was never created to hold us back. It was created to improve our lives, to make us more like Christ.
Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
The Lord of life is inviting you to a better life. He is asking you to turn your back on the false gods of this world and live the good life that He designed for you. Jesus didn’t just want the sick man to be able to walk. Jesus wanted to make him whole.
 
A terrible idea that is destroying lives in our world is that people don’t change, but that idea is not Biblical. It’s not even logical, and it’s incredibly depressing. You’re not stuck the way you are. God created you on purpose, for a purpose.
 
In John 5:6, Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be made well. The actual Greek word that Jesus used for “well” was “hygiēs.” This word literally translates to “healthy or whole.” Jesus was asking this man if he wanted to be whole. God’s promise of salvation isn’t that He’ll forgive your sins then leave you screwed up and broken. Jesus wants to make you whole.
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