Journal John 5 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation and notes are mine. Please investigate and determine if my assertions are aligned with the Bible on your own.)
Scripture: [At the Sheep Gate, near the pool called Bethesda] One man was there who had been an invalid for 38 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 your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
[later, the local Jewish leaders approached] 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Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.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.” John 5:5-9 and 12-14
Observation: See? Ministry in secret rules!
Application: Is this a lesson in the “fame in ministry” category? Should public recognition be a factor in declaring Jesus to the world?
It appears that Jesus didn’t think so. It looks like it wasn’t so much as “Jesus, the secret agent for the Kingdom” as it was “Jesus, let me do what is right for the Kingdom and not bring attention to myself.”
I picture this: Jesus was walking in the vicinity of the Sheep Gate, noticing all the folk gathered hopeful for a miracle, their motivations perhaps focused on ‘if only I can get well…’ Many people today are just like that.
Randomly (or as random as Jesus gets), he stops by a particular man and asks, “Do you want to be healed?” The text doesn’t indicate that Jesus made a big pronouncement, called out in a sonorous, loud, and deep voice, “Do you want to be healed?”, but maybe in something louder than a whisper but still on the quiet and intimate side, “Old man, do you want to be healed?”
Instead of, “Yes!! Yes, I do…” the old man (being old is important—it isn’t just the young who need Jesus—a continuous mistake in ministry application) replies, making an excuse. Jesus healed him anyway…and then fades into the crowd.
This is so unlike me. I probably would want to stand there and admire the result, like I just hit a towering homerun. Not Jesus. And should this be the example that I ought to follow? Of course, it is.
But what gets in the way? Pride of life? How about fear of not being relevant? What about the desire of fame, like Simon the magician (Acts 8:9-24) who wanted to be famous, even as a Christian?
I struggle with the fame and recognition part. Always have. Don’t know why because I know better, the example of Simon the magician hangs in front of my mind continually.
I also struggle with fear and depression, resulting in what I think is a need (or more precisely, want) of encouragement. Heb 3:12-13 says, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God…but exhort one another every day (as long as it is called today) that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness (dishonesty) of sin…”
Therefore, considering the topic scripture selection for today, what should I do? Plug along in the shadows, not looking for fame and glory, but doing the will of Him who sent me…just like my Lord did, and all the saints that have come before me; fight the sin that dwells within me, put it to death (like I heard from Romans 8)…
Now, if I could only conjure up the joy in surrender…today is an understanding of the “sacrifice of praise…”
Prayer: Lord God, forgive me of my trespasses, my wayward thoughts. Even now, as I type the truthful facts of the scriptures, I feel my struggles within my heart.
I wish I knew what drives satisfaction.
Ricky Two Shoes