I’m not an expert in the area of healing. Have I experienced healing? Yes. Have I experienced someone who was not healed? Yes. And that is the topic de jour.
In John 5, we are at the pool of Bethesda and there were many sick (blind, lame, paralyzed) waiting for the moving of the water. John says that an angel would go down to the pool from time to time and stir up the water. The first one who got in after the water was stirred up recovered from whatever ailment he had. One man who was there had been sick for 38 years.
Stop there and take note. The man was sick for 38 years. Now listen…Jesus saw him and knew he had been there a long time. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
The man answered that he didn’t have anyone to put him in the water after it was stirred and by the time he got going towards the water, someone beats him to it. Jesus told him to get up, pick up his bedroll and walk.
Please notice that there were a “mulitude” of sick people around this pool waiting to be healed. Jesus healed one. And if we back up from here, we can see how this one plays into the big picture. The Jews that were there told the healed man that the day was a Sabbath and it was illegal for him to pick up his bedroll. He told them that the man who healed him told him to pick it up. They asked him who the man was and he didn’t know because Jesus had slipped into the crowd–which must only mean there were quite a few people there.
Jesus later finds this healed man in the temple complex and talks to him. Just as he tells the woman who the Jews brought to Him for adultry, Jesus tells the healed man to sin no more. The man went to the Jews to tell them it was Jesus who had made him well.
I want to pause here for a moment to wonder why the man went to the Jews to tell them it was Jesus? We don’t know for sure, but the next few passages indicate that this situation played a part in Jesus’ death. John 5:16 says, “Therefore [because the healed man told them Jesus was the healer], the Jews began persecuting Jesus because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.” Jesus told them , “My Father is still working, and I am working also.” Verse 18 says, “This is why the Jews began trying all the more to kill Him: not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
Did Jesus heal this man based on his faith? When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, the man did not say yes. He only answered with the excuse that he had no one to take him to the water. For 38 years he was sick and he had been at the pool a long time. Did it take faith for the man to pick up his bedroll as Jesus instructed him? I don’t have the answer to that but it seems that the man was just doing what he was told. He didn’t even know who Jesus was.
Jesus had been to the wedding and turned the water into wine. He went to the temple in Jerusalem and drove out the money-changers. He told Nicodemus about being born-again. He, for the first time reveals Himself as Messiah to the woman at the well. He went back to where he turned the water into wine and a royal official pleaded for his son to be healed. Jesus healed the son. And this is where Jesus heals this man by the pool. Word was just beginning to spread about Jesus. And this man was the tool God used to let the Jews know that Jesus was the One who healed–on the Sabbath! Jesus broke their rules.
Another pause, if you will. These Jews were the experts. They were raised to be experts. They were respected and not questioned. Then here comes this guy from Galilee storming into their temple, telling them things they didn’t want to hear. Then he’s got nerve enough to come back and break the rules. They are angry. More than angry. Indignant. Not only was this guy breaking the rules of the Sabbath, but then–get this–he is calling God his father, making himself equal to God. Wow. Now they are way beyond just anger. They want him dead.
Understand in that day access to God was limited. Only the high priest had access to God and only once a year to offer sacrifices for the entire nation of Israel. The only others that had access to God were those few chosen men, prophets, who were in direct contact with Him. So here’s this guy stepping on the toes of the elite saying that he was the son of God.
If we skip ahead to chapter seven in John, we find Jesus at the Festival of Tabernacles. He went to the temple to teach. The Jews were amazed and couldn’t figure out how He knew Scripture when He wasnt’ trained. Jesus tells them that the teaching isn’t His but from the One who sent Him. The crowd tells Jesus He has a demon. And some of them wondered if this was the man they wanted to kill why was he in public teaching!? Soon, the temple police were questioned by the chief priests as to why they didn’t bring Jesus to them. The police had never heard anyone speak as Jesus did and Nicodemus is with there and stands up for Jesus.
At dawn, Jesus goes back to the temple complex and teaches. The Pharisees bring the adultress woman to Jesus to trap him, so they might have evidence to accuse him. He teaches and again they think He has a demon. They picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple complex.
Now, Jesus passes by a man blind from birth. (chapter 9) His disciples questioned the blindness. They wanted to know who sinned–the parents or the child.
Jesus say, “Niether this man nor his parents sinned. This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him.”
And Jesus healed him.
And guess what? This man was brought to the Pharisees because he was healed on the Sabbath!! He testifies before the Pharisees that Jesus did indeed heal him. They threw him out of the temple. Jesus met up with him and some of the other Phaisees overheard the conversation. Jesus was teaching them again and some said (again) that Jesus had a demon. Jesus tells them (again) that God is His Father and they picked up rocks to stone Him. They tried to seize Him, but He eluded their grasp.
(Do you see the pattern?)
He departed across the Jordan. This is the part where Lazarus dies and Jesus raises him from the dead. His disciples didn’t want Him to go to Lazarus because he had just left there with the Pharisees trying to seize and stone Him. Jesus went.
Some went to the Pharisees after Lazarus was brought back to life. The Pharisees decided they couldn’t let Him continue because “everybody will believe in Him!” (John 11:48) “Then the Romans will come and remove both our place and our nation.” Passover was near and they sent word to arrest Jesus. Notice also that the Pharisees decide to kill Lazarus because “he was the reason many of the Jews were deserting them and believing in Jesus.”
And from here, we move to the Passover and the crucifixion.
Now, I’ve basically taken you from Jesus’ first miracle to His last and skipped over a lot stuff. But what I want you to see is that in looking at things this way, we see that Jesus did not heal every single person He happened upon. He chose two particular men and I think, looking at the story from this distance, we can see that those two particlar men played a direct roll in the crucifixion.
Did they know that? I don’t think so. I don’t even think many people who read the Bible today have made that connection. It seems to me that people are so focused on the miracle of the healing that they lose sight of the real meaning. It is not that the people were healed.
It is that they were healed for the purpose of God’s will.
Healed for God’s glory.
Not so that God could just get credit for healing, but so that God’s ultimate plan is executed.
I can’t say why some are healed and aren’t. But I can say that from this view, I can see that when Jesus was at the pool of Bethseda and chose the man who had been sick for 38 years, He chose someone who was a key player in God’s ultimate plan. Just as the blind man was another key player. We were even told that the blind man was blind simply so that God’s works might be displayed in him.
God’s work: healing a blind man?
God’s work: sending His son as the sacrifice for sin?
Each of us has a different purpose. Those others at the pool, don’t you think they’d have liked to be healed? I suppose they would have. I think, though, that the question should be: Would they want to have their own desires or would they want to have what God desires for them?
Ultimately, I must decide whether I trust Him when He doesn’t give me exactly what I want, but instead gives me what He wants.
I know, in my life…trusting Him for that is a much bigger chunk of faith than anything else I can think of.