My observations from chapter 5:
Jesus is provocative! By this I mean, that He was challenging, provoking, disturbing, goading and inciting. It seems He not only knew what each person’s big, red button was, but he didn’t avoid that big red button at all. Rather, it seems He deliberately and precisely pushed each person’s Big Red Button. He didn’t shy away from confrontation.
Consider here, that Jesus is in essence going to a nursing home or a hospital. Again, just like in Samaria, he didn’t avoid being around the undesirables. He went to them. Sheep Gate Pools was a place filled with invalids, the blind, the lame and the paralyzed. As our family has cared for our three parents over the last several years, we have spent a great deal of time in hospitals, rehab centers and even nursing homes when our parents needed special services. I never looked forward to going to those places. The smells, the sights, the sounds were always so disturbing and distressing. Yet, here Jesus chooses to go to such a place. He goes where others are uncomfortable going.
Consider too, what it would be like to walk up to someone who has been lying in a hospital bed for 38 years and saying to them, :Do you want to be healed?” While we don’t hear Jesus’ tone when he spoke these words, don’t they seem a bit offensive? Any of us who has had first- hand experience dealing with a sick person knows that it would be rude and an incredibly weird thing to go up to them and ask them if they want to get well.
The man’s answer, I think, reveals the issue in His heart , the issue that Jesus was honing in on. His response seems kind of silly really. Ummm.. for 38 years, I have not been able to get into the water because of …….(drumroll)………others. They are always going in there before me. Seems to me like he is shifting the blame. Do you mean, that in 38 years, you could not find anyone to take you down into the water? You couldn’t sit right at the edge of the water and roll in while it was being stirred up? Was there really no way in 38 years for you to get into that water?
Jesus’ response is very revealing. He doesn’t show pity. He doesn’t go up to the man and wrap Him in a big bear hug and say, “oh, how horrible those people are. I feel for you.” “What a poor, neglected fellow you are.” Instead, Jesus tells him to do something: “Get up, take your bed and walk.” And He commanded him to “sin no more.” In expecting him to do something himself, wasn’t He expecting the man to take personal responsibility for His life instead of shifting the blame like he did in his response to Jesus’ initial question.?
And then Jesus presses lots of Big Red Buttons when it comes to the Pharisees:
- He healed on the Sabbath
- He had the man carry something (also considered work) on the Sabbath. So not only did Jesus work, but He called someone else to work too.
- He says to these men who are students and teachers of God’s Word, that they never heard His voice. v.37., that they don’t know Him. Pretty offensive when you spend a lifetime studying and this is your profession.
- He tells them they do not have the love of God in them. Again, I try to imagine myself going up to a teacher of the Bible. This time I will use Janie as an example leading a women’s Bible study group, and telling her in the hearing of everyone that she does not have the love of God in her. Pretty strong words, no? Thems there’s some fightin’ words, don’t you think?
- He called them unbelievers (v.44) because they sought the praises of man, rather than the praise of God. Wow. That strikes close to home for me.
Doesn’t it seem like He is going for those religious rulers. red buttons?
These are still more examples to me of Jesus being full of grace and full of truth. He was not what most paintings depict – a feminine looking man that spent His days cuddling sheep. His grace to His hearers was that He spoke the truth to them. He did not water down His message. He did not try to ease the blow of His words. He wasn’t flowery in His speech. He loved these people enough to tell them the truth so that they would have opportunity to repent.
Jesus redefines power and strength
Consider for a moment what we would think of someone who describes their relationship with their father in this way:
- I do only what I see my father doing.v. 19
- I show my friends everything my father shows me v.20
- I cannot do anything on my own. I am dependent on my father. v. 30
- I don’t seek to do anything I want to do, because I only always do what my father wants me to do. v.30
Wouldn’t we think them strange and weak from the world’s perspective? Can’t this person think for himself, judge for himself, act on His own behalf?
Yet Jesus, when describing His relationship with his father, puts Himself in a position of complete surrender and submission and says the very things I bulleted above. Jesus, who was given the position of ultimate judge (v.22),the most powerful being, redefines strength with the word “submission.” According to Jesus, strength does not mean glory, power and control. Rather, strength is made manifest in a total surrender and submission of self to the will of the Father. Again, spiritual perspective vs. temporal perspective.
I must ask myself – am I any of these things that I see in Jesus in this chapter? Is my primary concern first to do the will of my heavenly Father? Is my heart’s desire to save lost souls? Am I brave? Am I forthright? Am I so consumed with spiritual realities that I am at peace in my temporal home?
Do any Christians around me live like this?
Is this who people think of when they think of Jesus?
Is this the Jesus being preached?
Is this the life believers are being called to?