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How to Be Healed

Week_23_How to Be Healed Gillette Wyoming

How to Be Healed

In John 5:1-15, there is a story about Jesus healing a crippled man by the pool of Bethesda. The passage describes the location of the pool in detail. It states that the pool was inside the city near the sheep gate and had five covered porches. That description is important because for centuries there was no evidence the pool ever existed. Skeptics used its nonexistence as proof that the book of John was written by some zealot, not by the apostle John. That is until archeologists found the Pool of Bethesda in 1888. It is right by the Sheep Gate and, because it has two separate bathing areas, it has five porches. Trust your Bible. 
 
The pool was built in the 8th century BC by damming up rain water in a valley. That means the pool qualified as a Mikvah. In Jewish tradition, a Mikvah is a pool of natural water in which one bathes for the restoration of ritual purity. The water was called natural because the water flowed naturally into the pool. It was not gathered by hand.
 
Say this water was also referred to as living water or holy water. If living water is water gathered without human effort, what does that say about God offering us living water? A few verses before this story, Jesus offered living water to the woman at the well.
But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.
In this verse, Jesus gave us a metaphor of His gift of grace. We can’t earn it. It is a gift. Like the water in the Mikvah, Jesus produces it and gives it to us.
 
This Mikvah, though, was unique. The locals believed that it had the ability to heal people.
Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. 5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 
 
Did you catch it? We read verse three and five, but there was no verse four. The translation above is the New Living Translation. This translation, along with many other translations, have removed verse four because it is not in the oldest manuscripts of the Bible. However, the New International Version does include verse four. Let’s read verse four in the New International Version.
(Some manuscripts include here: wholly or in part, paralyzed—and they waited for the moving of the waters.) 4 From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had.
If this verse was not written by John, who added it, and what was the motivation? Who actually stirred the waters and healed people? The translators of the New International Version say it was an angel, but many people in Jesus’ day believe that it was another god.
 
Many people in Jesus’ day were members of the Cult of Asclepius. They built temples for the serpent spirits by Mikvahs, and they believed serpents would churn the waters and heal people. The Greeks attributed the healing power to natural occurrences and chemicals in natural springs. Others theorize that it was all superstition, and no one was actually healed.
 
Jesus, however, said that He was the source of living water. When He saw the sick man who had been ill for 38 years, He asked him if he would like to get well. The answer to that question seems obvious, but I think Jesus knew more about this man’s situation than we do. Jesus was asking him if he was comfortable. He wanted to know if this man wanted to keep putting his faith in the pool, or if he was ready to put his faith in God. Jesus was challenging Asclepius.
 
The sick man told Jesus that he was incapable of getting into the pool when the water bubbled up. He was still looking to the pool for healing. He didn’t realize that the source of the power he was so desperate for was standing right in front of him.
 
Then the sick man brought up another excuse. He said someone else always got in the pool before him. Everyone was looking out for themselves. Apparently, adherents to the cult of Asclepius weren’t in the habit of putting others before themselves. But Jesus was undeterred by the sick man’s excuses.
Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
Notice that this man did not pray a prayer of salvation before Jesus healed him. He didn’t confess his sins. He didn’t even put his faith in Jesus, but Jesus healed him. The man rolled up his bed and began to walk.
 
We have been invited to look to Jesus. The world offers us solutions to our problems that will only lead us to more pain. They ask us to look inside ourselves for meaning and hope, but we are crippled, incapable of healing ourselves. We are lost, and the only way to be found is to surrender to Christ.
 
A couple of years ago, my wife (Darci), two sons (Lincoln and Titus), and I went to Disney World. Darci and I were talking as we stood in line for the Peter Pan ride when I looked down and realized Lincoln was no longer standing by us.
 
If you have ever lost a child, you know that it takes no time for your heart to start beating faster. We were in a huge crowd, and I was separated from our son. I imagine God feels this way when His children turn their back on Him. Separation from your children brings excruciating pain.
 
Darci and I started yelling and frantically looking all around us, but we could not find him. Then, a little boy standing behind us pointed down the path and said, “He ran.” So, I ran. I ran faster than I could run. I was literally shoving people out of my way. After what seemed like ten minutes (but was really ten seconds), I saw Lincoln far down the path with a guy who was wearing clothes that looked like mine. I was still pretty far from him, but I could see that Lincoln was crying very hard. When he had realized that the man he was chasing wasn’t me, he was overwhelmed with fear. When I finally reached him, he grabbed me and said, “You left me.” I replied, “No, your mom left you…” No, I didn’t say that. I said, “Son, I will never leave you.” Lincoln thought that he was chasing me, but by chasing someone he thought was me, he actually ran away from me. 
 
Compare this story to your relationship with God. We spend so much of our lives searching for solutions to our problems, healing for our pain, and answers to our questions. God has all of these for us. The world offers solutions to our problems, but it can only give us more pain.
 
This sick man by the pool looked to the pool for healing, but the only one who could ever heal Him was standing right beside Him. The man chased after the wrong healer.
 
When it comes to following, there are a lot of options. Every politician, every pyramid scheme, and every celebrity wants you to follow them, but none of them can heal you. None of them can save you. Follow Jesus.
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